05 Apr 2023

Leadership

HealthTech - A bright spot in tech



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Original article was pubished on the SCS Magazine 2023 Issue 1


From COVID-19 to Healthier SG, advanced health technologies help Singapore to leapfrog to the next stage of transformation, and more talents are needed to bolster the health of the nation. Read more, as Ong Leong Seng, Deputy Chief Executive (IHiS) and Member (Singapore Computer Society - SCS), shares insights on how the HealthTech sector remains buoyant in the talent acquisition arena and sheds light on programmes to develop tech talents for health.

When healthcare was thrust into the forefront of the global agenda during the COVID-19 pandemic, careers in HealthTech took centre stage in the tech landscape. Since then, the pandemic has subsided. However, the spotlight on HealthTech has not waned – and for a good reason.

Life expectancy of Singaporeans is amongst the highest in the world. But chronic disease and an ageing population burdens our healthcare system. That is why in March 2022, Ministry of Health (MOH) announced a new white paper that capsulates the nation’s vision – Healthier SG – in which, bold steps outlining the transformation of healthcare by leveraging primary care practitioners in the community to support preventive healthcare efforts and better manage chronic disease, are detailed. 

HealthTech has a part to play in population health

Central to the achievement of these health goals, technology plays an instrumental role in enabling us to leapfrog to the next stage of transformation and bring the nation closer to our health goals. As Singapore’s public healthcare continues to focus on realising a Healthier SG, as well as other initiatives to make healthcare more sustainable, Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS) is in a unique position to empower our citizens with greater access to health services.

Through building user-intuitive systems supporting our GPs and enabling greater collaboration across healthcare providers and community agencies, we could potentially not only enhance patient experience, but also nudge Singaporeans towards healthier lifestyles. Specifically, health applications like HealthHub offer users a convenient means to create health plans, receive reminders to go for regular health screenings, manage medical appointments, order medication refills, and view lab test results. Additionally, the caregiver module enables users to access these same health services on behalf of loved ones.
 
As technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR), ChatGPT, etc., continues to mature, there are opportunities to harness these technologies to further enhance and improve healthcare provisioning, which is traditionally a high-touch, manpower-intensive service industry. 

HealthTech offers solutions to healthcare challenges

In the last 15 years, IHiS has won over 150 awards. Three such notable HealthTech solutions remain very relevant today. The first is the National Electronic Health Record (NEHR) that collates summary health records to enable healthcare professionals to make better informed clinical decisions for care, improve patients’ access to their own health records, and facilitate more seamless transition of care across health settings.
 
Another is the Outpatient Pharmacy Automation System (OPAS) that uses robotics to pack all different forms of medication more efficiently. Significantly increasing speed and accuracy, OPAS enables pharmacists to have more time in medication counselling with patients and reduces wait time for the patients. The last is our Smart Health Video Consultation that enables patients to receive care with greater convenience anytime, anywhere. Integrated with our backend systems, the platform makes e-consultation appointments seamless.

Then in the last three years, the COVID-19 pandemic surfaced new challenges, and in the process brought to light the importance of HealthTech. Case in point, in support of the nation’s fight against the disease, IHiS deployed over 60 technology initiatives in collaboration with various government agencies throughout the course of the pandemic. Among which were many innovative tech solutions harnessing AI, optical character recognition, telemedicine, and more to support our healthcare workers and Singaporeans in overcoming COVID-19 challenges and manpower constraints. 

HealthTech needs more helping hands

COVID-19 may have become endemic, but HealthTech looks set to stay at the forefront. The HealthTech sector remains buoyant in the talent acquisition arena. With growing demands of technical capabilities to meet these goals, IHiS recruits around 100 fresh graduates each year. We are actively hiring tech talents for roles including IT project managers, software engineers, data analysts, system analysts, and professionals in fields such as cybersecurity, cloud, data science, complex system integration and enterprise architecture.
 
For instance, in an effort to attract high potential ITE, Polytechnic and Tertiary students to build their careers with IHiS, we started a structured Internship Programme where they take on “Live” projects, learn from our technical experts, and explore career opportunities in HealthTech during their internship. We also collaborate with agencies like Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) in the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) company-led MidCareer Conversion Programme, which rides on government-aided platforms to train for in-demand future skills. A similar Google Skills Ignition SG Programme saw a success rate of 70% traineeship-to-permanent job conversions.

Complementary to these initiatives, IHiS also has a comprehensive and structured competency framework which focuses on learning roadmaps to further grow and enhance our employees’ capabilities. For budding young hires, we have in place the HealthTech Associate Programme (HAP), which provides structured foundation training to assimilate employees into the work environment. Apart from on-the-job training, trainees attend workshops, team activities, and interaction sessions with our senior leadership team – to hone their professional skills.

Levelling up, we have the HiPo Programme for star performers. They are given an option to rotate within functions and across different business service groups. They are also paired with an IHiS senior leader whom they can go to for advice, guidance and feedback under a mentorship programme.

IHiS is constantly seeking diverse talents to join our teams to inspire tomorrow’s health. If you are interested in a career in HealthTech, you can find out more find out more here.

 

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