Healthcare, education SMEs get more help to digitalise amid pandemic

SMALL and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the healthcare and education sectors will get more help in delivering their services remotely amid the Covid-19 outbreak, with the expansion of a range of digital solutions that are pre-approved for subsidies.

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Enterprise Singapore (ESG) have added new teleconsultation and learning management system (LMS) solutions to the list of solutions that SMEs in these two sectors can take up under the SMEs Go Digital programme. These pre-approved solutions will qualify for up to 80 per cent subsidies from the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) until Dec 31, 2020.

These solutions will help healthcare and education providers better serve their patients and clients with greater convenience and safety, IMDA and ESG said in a joint statement on Friday.

The agencies worked with the Ministry of Health to pre-approve three teleconsultation or video consultation solutions for subsidies under the PSG, with more to be added over time.

Healthcare providers can use live video consultations to replace in-person consultations in some cases, such as patients with non-emergency needs and chronic conditions. This will reduce the number of trips made to the healthcare institutions for in-person consultations, in line with the need to reduce movement and abide by safe-distancing measures during the pandemic.

Many education providers have already started using virtual-meeting platforms to take their lessons online. Together with SkillsFuture Singapore and the Early Childhood Development Agency, IMDA and ESG worked to pre-approve two LMS solutions that will help education centres and Continuing Education and Training (CET) providers create online educational content, record attendance digitally and issue digital certificates.

They can also be blended with classroom-learning programmes to cater to learners' needs, IMDA and ESG said.

Jane Lim, assistant chief executive of the sectoral transformation group at IMDA, said: "Covid-19 is accelerating the transition to a new model of service delivery using digital solutions. 

"Digitalisation will continue to be an important enabler for all businesses even after Covid-19. We are happy to collaborate with industry partners to support our SMEs to go digital and adapt to the new normal."

ESG deputy chief executive officer Ted Tan noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has made clear the need for businesses in the service sector to find new ways to serve their customers.

"We hope these digital solutions that support the delivery of services to customers virtually will enable our healthcare and education businesses to continue running their operations, and help retain their workers," he said, adding that the solutions will also strengthen the SMEs' capabilities for the long term.

IMDA and ESG have been progressively adding to the suite of pre-approved solutions to help SMEs cope with the fallout from the pandemic. On April 17, they announced new pre-approved remote-working solutions bundled with laptops to help businesses transition to work-from-home arrangements.

Information on these solutions and more resources for digitalising during this period can be found at www.imda.gov.sg/BizGoDigital