By KK Lim

Electronic health records pilot successful

On February 17, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), the oldest (established in 1821) and largest acute tertiary hospital and national referral centre in Singapore, together with Singapore Telecommunica-tions Limited (SingTel), and HSA Global announced their successful pilot of the Community Care Management Solution (CCMS), an electronic health record (EHR) and management system that makes patient data available to health care providers across the island state. The use of technology is not new—Short Messaging Services (SMS) are used widely to remind patients of upcoming appointments and to provide queue status updates.
Essentially, the EHR solution has the following features:

  • the patient’s complete health information, including case notes, can be shared across the continuum of providers, including step-down providers such as polyclinics and those in community care settings;
  • healthcare providers similarly can access the information through their personal computers or PDAs to view and to update a patient’s records, as well as to share them with similar providers; and,
  • the solution is offered as a Software as a Service (SaaS) model; healthcare providers pay a monthly subscription fee to use the service.

In the future, patients will access, view, receive timely updates, and test results through an online portal. If the patient uses a monitoring device, then information such as blood glucose and weight from the device can also be uploaded to the portal, allowing healthcare providers to provide timely medical advice so as to prevent serious problems from developing.

What is unique here is that the solution is available in Singapore, where there is no specific legislation governing the privacy of personal information per se, such as Hong Kong’s Personal Data Ordinance or one pertaining to personal health information, such as the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Currently, personal information is protected on an industry- or sector-specific level (the banking sector for example); although there is a general code on protecting personal information—The Model Data Protection Code—based on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines. Meanwhile, the government has reportedly formed an inter-ministry committee to review the issue and to find a way to protect an individual’s personal data and addresses. at the same time as issues relating to privacy concerns, commercial requirements and other national interests.

The efforts by SGH and her partners are laudable in terms of providing better healthcare service for the patients and providers. The solution, as it stands, has raised a number of legal, security, and privacy related issues:

a) Is the patient’s consent given to the hospital on a blanket, one-time basis, therefore allowing the information to be subsequently released to a third party (a step down healthcare provider, for example), or do we need to consult the patient each time before the information is released to a potential healthcare provider? What happens when the patient changes his or her healthcare provider and what is the requirement in relation to protecting the information held by the previous healthcare provider?

b) Who will be responsible for the adverse medical situation of a patient in the event a patient or third-party healthcare provider enters erroneous information on the online portal, leading to improper treatment by an innocent third-party doctor?

c) How is security ensured across the whole continuum of those who possess the health information of the patients? What if a physician downloads a patient’s information on his or her PDA and the device is subsequently stolen?

Perhaps a Singapore version of HIPAA, or something akin to it, is needed to address the many interrelated legal, security, and privacy issues. It might be the next logical step to undergird these laudable efforts by the hospital and her providers.

KK Lim is a senior lecturer at the School of Information Technology, Nanyang Polytechnic, Singapore. He also serves on the Association of Information Security Professionals in Singapore (AiSP) and the editorial review board of The Journal of Information Privacy and Security. This article is written in his personal capacity and the author can be reached at kklim@live.com.sg.




If you want to comment on this post, you need to login.


Board of Directors

See the esteemed group of leaders shaping the future of the IAPP.

Contact Us

Need someone to talk to? We’re here for you.

IAPP Staff

Looking for someone specific? Visit the staff directory.

Learn more about the IAPP»

Daily Dashboard

The day’s top stories from around the world

Privacy Perspectives

Where the real conversations in privacy happen

The Privacy Advisor

Original reporting and feature articles on the latest privacy developments

Privacy Tracker

Alerts and legal analysis of legislative trends

Privacy Tech

Exploring the technology of privacy

Canada Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top Canadian privacy news

Europe Data Protection Digest

A roundup of the top European data protection news

Asia-Pacific Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from the Asia-Pacific region

Latin America Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from Latin America

IAPP Westin Research Center

Original works. Groundbreaking research. Emerging scholars.

Get more News »

IAPP Communities

Meet locally with privacy pros, dive deep into specialized topics or connect over common interests. Find your Community in KnowledgeNet Chapters, Sections and Affinity Groups.

IAPP Job Board

Looking for a new challenge, or need to hire your next privacy pro? The IAPP Job Board is the answer.

Join the Privacy List

Have ideas? Need advice? Subscribe to the Privacy List. It’s crowdsourcing, with an exceptional crowd.

Find a KnowledgeNet Chapter Near You

Talk privacy and network with local members at IAPP KnowledgeNet Chapter meetings, taking place worldwide.

Find more ways to Connect »

Find a Privacy Training Class

Two-day privacy training classes are held around the world. See the complete schedule now.

The Privacy Core™ Library Has Evolved

Privacy Core™ e-learning essentials just expanded to include seven new units for marketers. Keep your data safe and your staff in the know!

Online Privacy Training

Build your knowledge. The privacy know-how you need is just a click away.

Upcoming Web Conferences

See our list of upcoming web conferences. Just log on, listen in and learn!

Train Your Team

Get your team up to speed on privacy by bringing IAPP training to your organization.

Let’s Get You DPO Ready

There’s no better time to train than right now! We have all the resources you need to meet the challenges of the GDPR.

Learn more »

CIPP Certification

The global standard for the go-to person for privacy laws, regulations and frameworks

CIPM Certification

The first and only privacy certification for professionals who manage day-to-day operations

CIPT Certification

The industry benchmark for IT professionals worldwide to validate their knowledge of privacy requirements

FIP Designation

Recognizing the advanced knowledge and issue-spotting skills a privacy pro must attain in today’s complex world of data privacy.

Certify Your Staff

Find out how you can bring the world’s only globally recognized privacy certification to a group in your organization.


The IAPP’S CIPP/E and CIPM are the ANSI/ISO-accredited, industry-recognized combination for DPO readiness. Learn more today.

Learn more about IAPP certification »

Are You Ready for the GDPR?

Check out the IAPP's EU Data Protection Reform page for all the tools and resources you need.

IAPP-OneTrust PIA Platform

New U.S. Government Agency privacy impact assessments - free to IAPP members!

IAPP Communities

Meet locally with privacy pros, dive deep into specialized topics or connect over common interests. Find your Community in KnowledgeNet Chapters, Sections and Affinity Groups.

Privacy Vendor List

Find a privacy vendor to meet your needs with our filterable list of global service providers.

More Resources »

Europe Data Protection Intensive 2017

The Intensive is sold out! But cancellations do happen—so hurry and get on the wait list in case more seats become available.

Global Privacy Summit 2017

The world’s premier privacy conference returns with the sharpest minds, unparalleled programs and preeminent networking opportunities.

Canada Privacy Symposium 2017

The Symposium returns to Toronto this spring and registration has opened! Take advantage of Early Bird rates and join your fellow privacy pros for another stellar program.

The Privacy Bar Section Forum 2017

The Privacy Bar Section Forum returns to Washington, DC April 21, delivering renowned keynote speakers and a distinguished panel of legal and privacy experts.

Asia Privacy Forum 2017

The Forum returns to Singapore for exclusive networking and intensive education on data protection trends and challenges in the Asia Pacific region. Call for Speakers open!

Privacy. Security. Risk. 2017

This year, we're bringing P.S.R. to San Diego. The Call for Speakers is now open. Submit today and be a part of something big! Submission deadline: February 26.

Europe Data Protection Congress 2017

European policy debate, multi-level strategic thinking and thought-provoking discussion. The Call for Speakers is open until March 19.

Sponsor an Event

Increase visibility for your organization—check out sponsorship opportunities today.

More Conferences »

Become a Member

Start taking advantage of the many IAPP member benefits today

Corporate Members

See our list of high-profile corporate members—and find out why you should become one, too

Renew Your Membership

Don’t miss out for a minute—continue accessing your benefits

Join the IAPP»