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Singapore rolls out digital health passport for a safe reopening of the travel sector

Written by Vulcan Post Published on     3 mins read

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The app displays a unique QR code for immigration officials to verify and authenticate COVID-19 test results.

Singapore has plans to form air travel bubbles, green and fast lane arrangements with several nations, which will allow travel without quarantine, provided that COVID-19 tests are negative. The results are issued as physical documents, which can be easily tampered with, misplaced, or lost.

This sparked the idea of a digital health passport—a blockchain-based solution and mobile app—which allows users to conveniently access and store test results. Vulcan Post spoke to deep tech catalyst SGInnovate and Singapore-based startup Accredify to learn more about this new “passport.”

Singapore travelers need to obtain COVID-19 swab results as part of a pre-departure test before outbound travel is granted. SGInnovate partnered with Accredify during the height of the pandemic to create a digital health passport to facilitate more efficient large-scale management of personal COVID-19 medical records.

SGInnovate has garnered expertise in planning, developing, and commercializing solutions for the healthcare sector. It sought out Accredify to co-develop the solution, given their track record of creating blockchain-based digital certificates for other applications. Within two months, they were able to develop and pilot the digital health passport.

Individuals will have full control over their health data that is stored securely on the app. When required, records can be displayed via a unique QR code, which can be scanned by immigration officials for immediate verification and authentication of test results. The solution has been expanded to support the safe reopening of the travel industry following the success of the pilot.

Accredify is working with more than 60 clinics in Singapore and Hong Kong to issue COVID-19 swab results, and Singapore’s largest private integrated healthcare provider Parkway Pantai is one of them. The clinics under Parkway Shenton are amongst the first in Singapore to issue verifiable digital travel credentials to travelers, which can be viewed on the digital health passport.

Photo courtesy of Accredify via Vulcan Post.

It also partnered with Gleneagles Hong Kong Hospital, which will issue test results to travelers of the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble, when it eventually launches. Free to use, the app is scheduled to be released on the App Store and Google Play by the end of January 2021.

Accredify’s CEO Quah Zheng Wei says that they are also working on app features such as a pre-departure checklist that displays health declarations, a list of travel documents required for entry into destination countries, and a clinic locator feature that searches for the nearest place that issues COVID-19 PCR tests. Whenever changes are made to a country’s list of required healthcare or travel documents, the app will reflect them in real-time.

Built on the OpenAttestation framework by GovTech, the digital health passport can generate tamper-proof cryptographic protection for each medical document. Blockchain technology provides security, transparency, and guarantees privacy in data management. Users are able to select what to share and can set expiry timings for the sharing of documents over email or messaging platforms.

Other SGInnovate portfolio companies also stepped up in the fight against the pandemic. Medo.AI, a MedTech startup, adapted its AI-assisted ultrasound solution to diagnose COVID-19-related lung conditions, allowing medical professionals to monitor and manage patients in a timely manner. Lucence Diagnostics originally worked on early cancer detection, but has used its expertise in the medical field to develop a saliva collection kit. Samples can be transported back to the lab at room temperature, in contrast to existing collection systems that need to be constantly chilled.

This article was originally published by Vulcan Post

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