Singapore

medicine

Precision medicine key to preventing disease developing later in life, Singapore News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – An individual’s genes can determine the amount of risk he has of developing life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and in turn allows for early intervention.

This is central to the precision medicine programme here, said Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, the chief health scientist from the Ministry of Health and executive director at the Healthcare Transformation Office.

Prof Tan told a webinar on Wednesday (Nov 25) that the programme looks at the genome sequences of participants to help determine the cumulative risks of different diseases based on their genes.

This can be particularly useful for some complaints like premature heart disease, added Prof Tan, who was joined on the webinar panel by Prudential chief executive Dennis Tan and Health Promotion Board (HPB) CEO Zee Yoong Kang.

The event, which covered a broad range of health topics from diabetes and vaccines to strategies on how to stay healthy, is part of The Straits Times Reset 2021 webinar series. It was sponsored by Prudential and moderated by ST senior health correspondent Salma Khalik.

Prof Tan told the webinar that a condition known as familial hypercholesterolemia is caused when a person has a gene that results in high cholesterol levels at a much younger age. If that gene is present, the individual will have up to 20 times higher risk of heart disease – and at an earlier age.

“And then if we identify somebody, we can also test the family. So these preventive strategies will be part of precision health,” he added.

The HPB is working to make use of the clinical, behavioural and digital data as well as genetic data – with patient consent – to identify those at higher risk to allow for early intervention.

Prudential’s Mr Tan said Singaporeans need not be worried about being part of the programme or be concerned if they find out their genome sequences. Having “bad” genes will not make it harder for them to secure insurance policies, he assured.

Privacy is really important, Mr Tan said, adding that “we (Prudential) are very, very careful about such things”.

He said individuals ultimately have to take charge of their own health and should find out more. He said: “Preventive healthcare is all about them being in the driver’s seat, and going through the whole process of early detection, health screening and all.

“So I think as insurers, we will definitely support them.”

Ms Khalik noted that if a person learns that he is at a high risk of getting a certain disease, it will give him the time and opportunity to act before the ailment takes hold.

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dentist

Court dismisses dentist’s appeal over tax on earnings, Singapore News & Top Stories

The High Court has dismissed a dentist’s appeal that he should be charged the corporate tax rate for earnings paid to a company he created, finding his main goal in setting it up was to avoid tax.

Justice Choo Han Teck ruled in the first such case to go on appeal to the High Court that Dr Wee Teng Yau’s move would enable him to pay less tax on the same services he provided.

This is because his fees paid into the company would be its income and taxed at the lower corporate tax rate. But if the fees had been paid directly to him, the personal income tax rate – which is higher – would be levied.

Justice Choo’s ruling pivots on a provision in the Income Tax Act, according to judgment grounds released earlier this month.

The provision at issue is Section 33 of the Act.

The tax authorities said last week that Section 33 has been applied to more than 100 medical professionals.

Referring to the section, Justice Choo said it is meant to cover arrangements created by the taxpayer to reduce the taxes which he would otherwise have to pay.

The judge found in this case “the facts show (its) main, if not only, purpose was to enable Dr Wee to avoid tax. This is precisely the type of arrangement that is covered by Section 33(1)”.

The case is the first to be heard before the court as previous such appeals were not pursued beyond the Income Tax Board of Review.

Dr Wee was employed by dental clinic Alfred Cheng Orthodontic Clinic (ACOC) from January 2011 to May 2012.

He set up Straighten (SPL) in May 2012, and was its sole director and shareholder. He continued to provide the same dental services to ACOC’s patients, but ACOC made the payments to SPL instead of to him, the court noted.

SPL, in turn, paid him a salary and director’s fee. Tax-exempt dividends were also declared and paid to him from SPL’s profits.

For assessment year 2012, ACOC paid Dr Wee $279,194.60 in fees.

Between assessment years 2013 and 2016, the fees ACOC paid SPL and reported as SPL’s income totalled $1,470,764.

SPL paid $336,000 in director’s remuneration to Dr Wee who also received tax-exempt dividends totalling $765,205 as a shareholder.

Each year, the remuneration he received from SPL ranged between $40,000 and $110,000. This is significantly lower than the $279,194.60 he got as income in 2011 from ACOC, the court noted.

The Comptroller of Income Tax treated the fees SPL received from ACOC as Dr Wee’s income and imposed the personal income tax rate instead of the corporate tax rate as sought by Dr Wee.

The Income Tax Board of Review affirmed the Comptroller’s position and Dr Wee appealed further.

In the High Court, the Comptroller’s counsel Zheng Sicong and Serene Lau relied on Section 33(1) as the ground for the levy.

But Dr Wee’s lawyer Lau Kah Hee argued, among other things, that Dr Wee would

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health

Philips and Singapore General Hospital (SGH) to establish Digital and Computational Pathology Center of Excellence

Digital pathology at Singapore General Hospital

October 23, 2020

  • SGH aims to develop the first fully digitized histopathology laboratory in ASEAN by expanding the use of Philips’ IntelliSite Pathology Solution, potentially increasing the productivity of existing staff by 7%

  • Philips Singapore and SGH will optimize digital pathology use to facilitate research in Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Amsterdam, the Netherlands – Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), a global leader in health technology, today announced a collaboration with Singapore General Hospital (SGH) to establish the Singapore General Hospital Digital and Computational Pathology Center of Excellence. The SGH Center of Excellence aims to advance pathology practice by implementing a fully digital histopathology workflow and deploying Artificial Intelligence (AI) to increase productivity and enhance patient care.

Located within SGH’s Division of Pathology, one of the largest pathology laboratories in ASEAN, the Center of Excellence aims to establish ASEAN’s first fully digitized histopathology laboratory by expanding its digital pathology capabilities for primary diagnosis, training, and R&D with the Philips IntelliSite Pathology Solution. Both SGH and Philips will also work closely on other diverse areas, including streamlining of the histopathology laboratory’s digital workflow.

As in other parts of the world, the demand for cancer diagnosis in Singapore is increasing while pathologists remain scarce. A recent study, conducted by SGH and Philips, revealed that full digitization of SGH’s histopathology laboratory will improve efficiency. It has the potential to enable time savings in the pathology workflow and allow the pathology department to increase its capacity by another 7% whilst retaining the same number of employees.

Through optimization of digital pathology at SGH, the hospital will be able to further its research in AI. AI-based tools can aid pathologists in diagnosing diseases such as cancer – the leading cause of mortality in Singapore [1] – and empower them to face the current challenges in pathology. The increasing number of cancer cases, an aging population, and rapid advances in personalized medicine have resulted in significant complexity of pathological diagnostics, adding to the workload of pathologists. AI will allow pathologists to focus more on challenging tasks and unusual cases that require a higher degree of expertise and skills.

“As healthcare becomes more complex and demanding, digitization has become a key enabler for the Hospital to provide better care for our patients and to be more efficient,” said Prof. Kenneth Kwek, Chief Executive Officer at SGH. “Digital pathology is an example of that. Our partnership with companies such as Philips, with its clinical and technical know-how, is important in helping us achieve our goal.”

“Digital pathology enhances the quality and efficiency of a histopathology laboratory,” said Diederik Zeven, General Manager, Health Systems, Philips ASEAN Pacific. “We are committed to partnering with leading healthcare institutions like Singapore General Hospital to bring the latest in precision diagnosis and AI capabilities to help them augment clinical quality, improving patient outcomes and thereby reducing the cost of care.”

Philips IntelliSite Pathology Solution enables pathologists to review and interpret digital images of surgical pathology

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