The Ministry of Health (MOH) has launched a new Licensing Experimentation and Adaptation Programme (LEAP) beginning with telemedicine services.
The healthcare landscape is changing rapidly. New and innovative models and services have the potential to bring significant benefits to patients and support healthcare transformation. First announced by Senior Minister of State for Health, Dr Lam Pin Min, at the 2018 Committee of Supply debate, LEAP will provide regulatory sandboxes that enable new and innovative models and services to be developed and refined in a safe and controlled environment. Participating providers and MOH will achieve this through clear boundary conditions, data governance measures and risk mitigation strategies.
LEAP will bring about a wide range of potential benefits:
(i) For patients and caregivers – Those utilising services under LEAP will benefit from early access to new healthcare models while being assured that essential safety and risk mitigation measures are in place. Being able to develop an appropriate and clear regulatory regime with LEAP will enable the growth of these services that can bring benefits to more patients and caregivers, while safeguarding their interest.
(ii) For providers – Providers participating in the regulatory sandbox will be able to introduce new healthcare models or evolve their current models in a safe manner, with early visibility over the eventual regulatory environment. This positions them to transit more seamlessly into the eventual regulatory framework and meet patient safety and welfare requirements.
(iii) For MOH – LEAP will enable MOH to keep in step with the fast evolving healthcare landscape. By working alongside providers participating in the sandbox, MOH can develop more timely, fit-for-purpose and effective regulations that support new services that benefit patients while safeguarding their interests. Services under the sandbox can eventually transition to licensed services.
Telemedicine as First Service Area under LEAP
Telemedicine will be the first service to come under LEAP. Telemedicine offers greater convenience and improved accessibility to medical support and medication through new digital self-help options. It has the potential to enhance productivity and cost-effectiveness, and become an impactful enabler in Singapore’s healthcare landscape.
MOH will take a risk-based approach by focusing on tele-consultation services, which provide direct clinical care (e.g. diagnosis and intervention) between a doctor and patient, and work with the participating providers to bring about a safe and vibrant telemedicine environment. Our plan is to eventually regulate telemedicine as a licensed healthcare service after the successful completion of the regulatory sandbox.
The first two providers participating in the programme are WhiteCoat and RingMD. More providers may come on board later, as more telemedicine providers recognise the benefits of LEAP and work to meet the requirements.
For identification purposes, MOH sandbox providers will bear a Regulatory Sandbox logo (Figure 1). Further details on the sandbox initiative and the list of telemedicine providers participating in the regulatory sandbox will also be published on MOH’s website at https://www.moh.gov.sg/healthcare-regulation.