Working together to promote self-health management in APAC

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Self-health management at the population level is only possible if the entire health ecosystem will pull together its resources and energies, says Benedict Tan, who will speak at the HIMSS22 conference Asia-Pacific in Bali this year.

Tan is Group Chief Digital Strategy Officer and Chief Data Officer at SingHealth, Singapore’s largest public healthcare cluster.

He imagines a future where digital technologies will allow each patient to take control of their own health.

This is increasingly becoming a reality, he says, in the current era of Health 4.0 which has brought digital and non-digital technologies together.

“As we have seen from how the healthcare industry has adapted quickly and effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic, I am optimistic that all we need to achieve this is to focus our efforts and resources together,” he continues.

Passion for health informatics

Tan has been working in the health informatics industry since he landed his first job with the National Computer Board of Singapore, which landed him a posting with the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Tan is passionate about all things health informatics, from making sure his colleagues’ laptops and computer networks are up and running, to implementing artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. ) that allow rapid and accurate diagnosis of patients.

“Some may not see the importance of mundane and seemingly simple IT tasks, but they are just as important to me as it is about providing the right IT tools and solutions to healthcare professionals to enable them to treat patients. and save lives,” he said.

Throughout his career, Tan has been involved in some key healthcare IT projects, including the overhaul and streamlining of the civil service claims system and the implementation of a bed management system. based on RFID for Singapore General Hospital.

“Both involved working with several key stakeholders to examine and deeply understand the processes that cross agencies and departments with the goal of simplifying and streamlining them through digital technologies. Ultimately, for both projects , the focus was on improving the lives of customers, that is, public servants who make claims and patients who need hospital beds for their recovery.”

He remembers having an interaction with a young doctor who chose to specialize in medical informatics. “When asked why he chose to work on IT instead of treating patients, he replied, “If I practice as a doctor, I can potentially treat thousands of patients in my lifetime. . But if I implement effective IT solutions, I can potentially save millions of lives.’ His response inspired me and has fueled my passion ever since.”

Dealing with rising IT costs

A public healthcare cluster like SingHealth is constantly exploring and implementing new digital technologies to transform its services to improve patient care and experience, Tan says.

Currently, SingHealth continues its success in deploying SELENA+, an AI system to detect major eye diseases, working on AI/machine learning projects that also read digital images to support clinical diagnosis of other conditions. health. It also explores the use of AI technologies to predict workload and support scheduling to optimize resources and improve patient experience and clinical outcomes.

Additionally, the healthcare cluster is collaborating with the MOH and other public healthcare clusters to leverage digital tools that support population health.

However, a growing concern facing healthcare agencies, more so than organizations in other industries, is the rising costs of implementing new technologies. Tan and his team are very aware of this.

“While digital technologies bring many benefits to patient experience and care outcomes, public health agencies must manage the costs of introducing digital technologies to keep healthcare affordable and accessible to patients,” suggests Tan.

Tan will speak at the HIMSS22 APAC conference during the main session, Care is not What it Used to Be: The Need to Elevate Consumer Experience. The conference will take place in Bali, Indonesia, September 26-29. Learn more here.

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