A New Standard in Health Care – Farrer Park Hospital, Singapore’s First Fully Integrated Healthcare/Hospitality Complex
Author: Gail S. Thornton, M.A.
Co-Editor: The VOICES of Patients, HealthCare Providers, Caregivers and Families: Personal Experience with Critical Care and Invasive Medical Procedures
Farrer Park Hospital, Singapore’s newest private healthcare service provider, headed by newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Timothy Low, M.D., is a private, acute tertiary institution that represents an innovation in hospital administration, incorporating the latest technology to support better decision making for better patient outcomes and shorter hospital stays along with the beauty of nature and art to enhance the patient experience. The hospital, opened in March 2016, is sited within Singapore’s first, fully integrated healthcare and hospitality complex, called Connexion, which is Asia’s first, integrated lifestyle hub for healthcare and wellness. Connexion houses the 220-bed Farrer Park Hospital with its more than 300-accredited specialists and 18 operating rooms, a 10-floor specialist Medical Center, along with a five-star hotel and spa. In 2016, Farrer Park Hospital was awarded best new hospital of the year in Asia Pacific by Global Health and Travel Awards.
Image SOURCE: Photograph courtesy of Farrer Park Hospital, Singapore. An integrated healthcare and hospitality complex, called Connexion, Asia’s first, integrated lifestyle hub for healthcare and wellness, which includes Farrer Park Hospital.
The hospital is also a teaching site for undergraduate medical training, providing enhanced medical care, service quality and professional integrity and value. Supported by approximately 600 hospital staff, specialists at Farrer Park Hospital provide a range of services, such as cardiology, oncology, orthopedic surgery, gastroenterology and ophthalmology. A 24-hour emergency department provides attention for acute illnesses and the hospital has the most modern facilities for diagnostic imaging, nuclear medicine, radiotherapy and clinical laboratories.
Image SOURCE: Photographs courtesy of Farrer Park Hospital, Singapore. Left is a deluxe suite, top right is Farrer Park Hospital lobby, bottom right is Farrer Park Hospital building.
Medical tourism — the process of traveling outside your country of residence to receive medical care — represents a worldwide, multi-billion-dollar business that is expected to grow considerably in the next decade. Interestingly, Singapore’s medical tourism market is projected to grow by 8.3 percent annually and reach revenue of USD $1.36 billion a year by 2018.
My first question is: Why has Singapore emerged in the past few years as an international healthcare and research hub?
Dr. Low: With Singapore’s excellent patient services and its dedication to research and wellness, the country continues to remain as the top destination for those seeking medical care. By providing convenience and trust in our medical sector, there is no doubt that it will continue to expand and grow. Our dedication is towards the patient, cutting-edge technology and personalized care. This makes Singapore a multi-faceted medical hub and a center of excellence. Patient can receive excellent standard of medical treatment, comparable to the Europe and the USA.
Currently, we are attracting foreign patients who expect five- or six-star hotel service, because we’re a private hospital. That’s why I’m strict about appearances. We have to look as groomed, and we need to be as personable, as those in hospitality and the airlines.
Please describe the concept behind Farrer Park Hospital as Singapore’s first, fully integrated healthcare and hospitality complex.
Dr. Low: The Farrer Park Hospital was designed and built to be a hospital of the future, combining innovation in medical care and medical education. The hospital was initially created by medical specialists to respond to the growing challenges of healthcare in Singapore and, more broadly, throughout the Asia Pacific region. We have ‘reimagined’ private healthcare in order to enhance medical care, service quality, professional integrity and value.
We are leading the way in healthcare innovation as we are a premier institution for medical care and education that is based upon three important tenets for the patient — comfort, fairness and value. In fact, our top accredited medical staff, along with state-of-the-art equipment and technology, contributes to increased efficiency, reduced cost, and most, importantly improved patient outcomes.
As an innovation in hospital administration, Farrer Park Hospital embraces technology and improves medical care through its state-of-the-art equipment that facilities telemedicine consulting services across the world. To create a conducive environment for medical professionals, the hospital’s 18 operating rooms are linked via fiber-optic connections to various locations through the Connexion complex, including the hospitals’ education center and lecture hall, teaching clinics and tutorial rooms as well as the hotel’s function rooms. In addition to being equipped with the latest in useful medical technology, the hospital has state-of-the-art information technology which enables seamless and rapid flow of information between the admission services, inpatient areas, operating theaters, diagnostic and therapeutic centers, clinical laboratories and medical clinics. We also are the country’s first private hospital to become a teaching site, with the medical students from Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine at Nanyang Technological University.
What is the type of environment you are creating at Farrer Park Hospital?
Dr. Low: Our care philosophy extends beyond healing and the management of disease to engaging with our patients as partners in pursuit of good health and providing an oasis for healing and relaxation. Throughout our facility, patients will find that attention has been given to every aspect and detail of our facility – from the comfort of our patients, to its impact on the environment, to the speed and ease of obtaining medical attention and to the maintenance of hygiene.
As healthcare players go, we are small and that has made us very aware of our challenges. As such, we have encouraged a culture of innovation, to grasp opportunities quickly. Healthcare is a very traditional industry, resistant to change and thus tend to be laggards in technology. Farrer Park Hospital, however, embraces technology. The seamlessness of information flow was the focus at the onset of the project. This hospital was planned technologically to be relevant for the next 20 years.
Being an institution built by healthcare practitioners has its advantages. We achieve painstaking perfection in our attention to detail. The hospital has many practical features that serve the needs of practitioners and patients while the hoteliers add details for comfort, luxury and aesthetics.
Our hospital is also supported by a hospital staff, who provide a range of specialty services, such as cardiology, oncology, orthopedic surgery, gastroenterology and ophthalmology, along with a 24-hour emergency clinic, which provides immediate care for acute illnesses. The hospital also has the most modern facilities for diagnostic imaging, nuclear medicine, radiotherapy and clinical laboratories. There is even a holistic service which focuses on screening, preventive medicine and lifestyle enhancement.
What is your perspective of engaging with patients?
Dr. Low: The hospital’s care philosophy extends beyond healing and the management of disease to engaging patients in pursuit of good health. Healing does not end after a successful operation. It is not just about coming to the hospital for a procedure and then recuperating at home. It is about having the best and most comfortable services to get the patient on their feet. And having a family support structure close by, where relatives can stay close to the hospital, is essential in the rehabilitation process. That is why, as part of Connexion, the hospital is Asia’s first, integrated lifestyle hub for healthcare and wellness that is linked to a five-star hotel and spa.
Patients are treated by an experienced team of medical and health specialists in an environment meticulously designed to maximize comfort and efficiency while promoting well-being, rest and recovery.
How are you positioned technologically to be a leader in developing first-rate patient care?
Dr. Low: We have taken the lead in many areas. Our facility is wired completely, any tests and treatments is automated whenever possible and the information is sent in real time to all stakeholders who require it. Our doctors can access this technology and make decisions as if they are in the hospital anywhere in the world.
What type of physician are you attempting to attract?
Dr. Low: The environment at Farrer Park Hospital is about clinical and service excellence, supported by physical and technological constructs that facilitates both these endeavors. We are building a culture of fairness and promoting decision making that is free from self-interest and toward better patient outcome. The doctors who join us must be aware that we take our code of comfort, fairness and value seriously.
What is the thinking behind the philosophy of incorporating nature and art into healthcare in Farrer Park Hospital?
Dr. Low: The architecture of Farrer Park Hospital and Connexion reflects the deep commitment to creating a true learning environment. Synergies between our hospital along with a closely linked hotel stimulate many innovations for improving the healthcare experience. The concept of a hospital near a hotel is not new, however, to integrate it to the level that we have is something novel. We followed a biophilic architecture approach throughout the facility, incorporating nature and art to enhance healing. Hospitals are traditionally not the best place for recuperation. We strive to have the restful ambiance of a hotel, in addition to proximity of doctors and family under the same roof, as well as using technology to enable seamless and speedy decision making; all this in support of better patient outcome and shorter stays.
You could say we are different in how we view private healthcare. A traditional hospital would not carve out 15 gardens at multiple levels throughout the facility so that patients and families can have places to feel the warmth of the sun and breathe fresh air whenever they like. The facility also hosts a private collection of over 700 commissioned Asian paintings meant to enhance the healing environment.
In land-scarce Singapore, a typical businessperson would not have fewer paid parking lots, making them one and a half times the size of a standard lot to allow a patient on crutches to comfortably extend the car door fully to disembark. A standard project manager would not insist that contractors construct a curved sink so that surgeons will not have water dripping down his elbows after scrubbing his or her hands, or a bath bench with a cut out that allows patients to sit while washing themselves. This may seem unnecessary but these innovative approaches translate to actual benefits to people who ‘value’ them.
Everyone has the same end goal, a good experience and better patient outcome. Our strategy is simple. We take our responsibilities to patients, their families and the clinicians seriously. Attend to their needs, anticipate their wants, and find the best way to address these concerns through innovation and technology. This ultimately brings value to patients.
How does nature and art come together at Farrer Park Hospital?
Dr. Low: The hospital, hotel and specialist center share and enjoy 15 gardens created at multiple levels in the building. One of the gardens, The Farm @ Farrer, grows fruits, vegetables and herbs for the hotel kitchens, and at the same time, is a large outdoor green space for recovering patients to stroll and sun. Uniquely, Farrer Park Hospital patients enjoy meals prepared by chefs in the hotel’s kitchens and confectionery.
Our inpatient food service, for example, is also automated, so whatever appears on the electronic screen on a patient’s personal tablet matches their dietary restrictions. The menu is a matrix of over 200 items customized by hotel chefs and our hospital nutritionist. Food that is fresh, delicious and safe for patient consumption is our primary focus.
Not only do we benchmark ourselves with hospitals, but also we take our inspiration from other industries. We believe to be at the top, you need to look beyond, break through and recreate process models and apply them for use in healthcare.
Image SOURCE: Photograph of Chief Executive Officer Timothy Low, M.D., courtesy of Farrer Park Hospital, Singapore.
Chief Executive Officer of Farrer Park Hospital, Timothy Low, M.D., brings a strong leadership background in managing award-winning hospitals. Prior to his current role, Dr. Low served as CEO of Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore. Through his leadership, the hospital established itself as a six-star private healthcare provider, clinching 14 local and regional awards including the prestigious Asian Hospital Management Award as well as the the ‘National Work Redesign Model Company’ by Spring Singapore, a governing agency for innovation in Singapore. Under his leadership, revenues exceed 42 percent to over USD $100 million.
Having also served in senior management positions for pharmaceutical and medical device industries in the Asia Pacific region, Dr. Low’s breath of exposure allowed him to pioneer the establishment of a global contract research organization, validating Singapore as its regional headquarters.
With more than 28 years of experience in the health care industry with such leading companies as Covidien, Covance and Schering-Plough, Dr. Low brings with him a strong background of leadership within the business and medical community. With his vast experience and contributions to the industry, Dr. Low is listed in the ranks of Stanford Who’s Who.
Dr. Low received his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and is also a graduate of the NUS Graduate School of Business, Stanford University Executive Program and the Singapore Management University Asia Pacific Hospital Management Program.
Tan, W. (2016). Farrer Park Hospital patients can recuperate at adjoining hotel to ease ward crunch. The Straits Times. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/farrer-park-hospital-patients-can-recuperate-at-adjoining-hotel-to-ease-ward-crunch
Tan, W. (2016). New Farrer Park Hospital aims to offer ‘affordable’ private care. The Straits Times. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/new-farrer-park-hospital-aims-to-offer-affordable-private-care
Anonymous (2012). Singapore Medical Tourism: Farrer Park Healthcare and Hospitality Complex Will Open in 2013. International Medical Travel Journal. Retrieved from http://www.imtj.com/news/singapore-medical-tourism-farrer-park-healthcare-and-hospitality-complex-will-open-2013/
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