15 Feb 2022

Career Stories

Cheng Wenhao: Making lives better – enhancing HealthTech through robotics and systems integration

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Open, fun, and meaningful. These are words that Systems Analyst Cheng Wenhao used to describe the people, culture and work at Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS).

During his internship with IHiS in 2018, Wenhao joined the Outpatient Pharmacy Automation System (OPAS) team. He worked closely with pharmacy users in public healthcare institutions across National Healthcare Group (NHG), National University Health System (NUHS), and Singapore Health Services (SingHealth), for the testing and implementation of OPAS.

From trusted intern to project manager to advanced pharmacy systems

Although the National University of Singapore (NUS) graduate lacked experience, Wenhao recalls how he still felt valued. As an intern, his team members sought his input during the decision-making process as they worked through OPAS’ testing and implementation phases.

Three years later, Wenhao took on the role of project manager to manage all existing and upcoming OPAS implementations across the three clusters.

OPAS, HealthTech, healthcare harmony

“I believe the field of HealthTech is the perfect embodiment of using technology for the greater good. When I first saw OPAS and its automated dispensing machines in action, I was amazed at how much machines can do to relieve pharmacy users’ workload.”

OPAS is the first system in the region to integrate different high-speed packaging machines for drugs in blister packs, boxes and loose tablets, into one complete, end-to-end system.

“Six pharmaceutical technologies from various industries worldwide were integrated to create OPAS. Together with my team, we enhance the application software, upgrade the hardware to keep them running smoothly and securely and implement new plans to better facilitate the workflow processes in new hospitals,” Wenhao explains with pride.

By automating 80% of the medication dispensing workflow, reliance on trained manpower is reduced, allowing them to be re-deployed to serve up to 50% more patients at the front dispensing counters. Patient experience is also enhanced as the automation of the labour intensive tasks reduces their waiting times by as much as 50%.

Wenhao added, “The OPAS system has clinched many national and regional awards including the recent 2021 World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) Global ICT Excellence Awards where Sengkang General Hospital and IHiS were selected as a Runner-Up of the Innovative eHealth Solutions Award (Public Sector).”

Smooth (system) operator

Asked about the highlight of his IHiS journey so far, Wenhao recalled managing the cutover for the OPAS system to function seamlessly with the Next Generation Electronic Medical Records (NGEMR) system for multiple institutions. As a newly-minted Systems Analyst, he found it challenging to familiarise himself with the infrastructure that is used to support the OPAS system.

“When I was first exposed to the technology used to support OPAS, many terms felt unfamiliar to me. Thankfully, my team members were helpful in guiding me through this process – this meant so much to me, as a fresh grad.” he added.

While there were hiccups during the first system cutover, Wenhao and his team worked closely to quickly identify the technical issues’ root cause before any pharmacy operation went live so it did not affect any patients.

“There was a lot to learn but I am thankful to have been given the opportunity to experience such a large-scale cutover. Through this experience, I gained my team’s trust and support to handle most tasks independently and learnt the value of putting more checks in place to ensure smoother transitions for future cutovers,” he recalled.

Better together

Wenhao continues to be inspired by HealthTech through the nature of his role at IHiS and by the colleagues around him who continuously strive to effectively and safely deliver better healthcare across Singapore. He attributes part of the learning experience to his team members who have motivated him, both in and out of the office.

“We are always ready to support one another when the going gets tough and are still learning from one another every day. We also have fun outside of work – we even take turns to organise bonding activities like cycling sessions or lunch huddles over Zoom,” Wenhao added.

Learn, grow and thrive with IHiS

To budding Systems Analysts who do not have background in healthcare or IT, Wenhao assures you that a willingness to learn, coupled with a growth mindset are far more critical than background knowledge, to thrive in IHiS.

“You don’t need to be a computer scientist to join IHiS! I have worked alongside many colleagues who specialised in different disciplines such as engineering or science and none of them has been inhibited by that.” he urged.

“Technology is changing the way we deliver healthcare – to make it more purposeful, efficient and safe for patients. From robotics in automated drug picking and dispensing in OPAS, to teleconsultations and medication delivery to facilitate contact-free treatments, IHiS is making a positive difference for society, with better healthcare, improved patient outcomes and greater efficiency of healthcare management for Singapore. If you have a passion for technology and are looking to make a meaningful impact to the community, why not begin this exciting journey with us?”

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