Taiwan future-ready hospital sets ‘smart’ goals
Dr. Shih-An Chen shares Taichung Veterans General Hospital’s pioneering research, innovation, and education at Medical Fair Taiwan 2023.
Whilst the goal of smart hospitals is to improve care quality and the patient experience whilst cutting costs, the Taichung Veterans General Hospital (TCVGH) strives for more as it also focuses on research and medical education.
As it is, TCVGH is already one of the top smart hospitals not just in Taiwan but around the world. In a US magazine’s 2023 list of the World’s Best Smart Hospitals, TCVGH is at 254th place and the only Taiwan-based hospital included in the rankings.
Taking the stage at Medical Fair Taiwan on 9 June, Dr. Shih-An Chen, superintendent of TCVGH, discussed the future of smart healthcare as industry players and stakeholders crowded the Nangang Exhibition Center.
On the sidelines of the big event, Dr. Chen told Healthcare Asia that education, research, and innovation are necessary when investing in new drugs and medical devices to enhance patient care.
Out of the three, Chen said innovation is a top priority, especially innovating in stem cell therapy. In Taiwan, the Taiwan Medical University (TMU) is leading in systematic cell therapy and regenerative medicine (CTRM).
For this research, TMU has partnered with five US universities and one US company, four Taiwan companies, a Korean university and hospital, two top Japanese universities, and both Hong Kong University and the Duke-NUS Medical School.
Chen said TCVGH has a CTRM team composed of 40 physicians who are specialists in cancer, autoimmune diseases, and cardiac, neuronal, and joint degenerative diseases.
Their mission is to translate stem cells and cancer-fighting cells from the bench to the bedside, providing new treatment options for those with cancer or chronic diseases who have failed conventional therapies.
The team has an in-house core team of scientists and clinicians to build new cell processing laboratories to create clinical-grade novel cell products through collaboration with universities and industry.
The world’s best smart hospital list featured 300 hospitals from 28 different economies with most of them coming from the US, followed by Europe, and the Asia Pacific region.
Whilst the TCVGH is the only Taiwan smart hospital included in the list, Chen said Taiwan is trying to catch up with the smarter healthcare system.
The esteemed cardiologist known for his research work said they attributed their inclusion on the list to the hospital administration’s dedication to integrating IT systems.
“In our past years, every superintendent in a hospital emphasised the important role of IT and smart healthcare systems in a hospital. So the IT department and engineering, are devoted to developing a smarter healthcare system [in TCVGH],” Chen told Healthcare Asia at the sidelines of the event.
TCVGH, the only public health center in central Taiwan, provides patient care with advanced equipment and tech, including cross-department center to provide integrated care, such as the Comprehensive Cancer Center, Cardiovascular Center, Chinese-Western Medical Consultation Services, Health Examination Center, and the Digestive Endoscopy Center. Its advanced medical equipment includes Positron Emission Tomography, Gamma Knife, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Chamber, and Multi-Detector Row CT.
A McKinsey study showed that future-ready smart hospitals tap AI, robotics, precision medicine, 3-D printing, augmented reality/virtual reality, genomics, telemedicine, and more to create cost control and efficiency optimisation in healthcare delivery.
The research also found that OECD nations implementing digital tech in healthcare may save costs of more than 10% of overall annual national healthcare expenses.
Since medical education is one of TCVGH’s goals, Dr. Chen touts their hospital’s emphasis on medical ethics.
The hospital currently has training contracts with 10 universities and 119 hospitals to train over 3,000 students and medical professionals annually.
He also shared that the hospital has an ethical and human research protection committee to manage an overlap in ethical issues.
To explain further, Chen said addressing ethical issues is important to get consent from the patient when performing a medical procedure.
“You need to get a full explanation from the patient and the family. Its purpose is to avoid medical arguments after the procedure or to protect their human rights,” he said.
Photo from Taichung Veterans General Hospital (TCVGH) Facebook page