How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation. 

I lead a team of six data analysts. We collectively support the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics’ (NHGP) information and analytics needs. In an era where data drives decisions, my team plays a big part in supporting many strategic programmes and management decisions.

I have a special focus in forecasting, where I profile residents and their proximity to polyclinics. This goes into planning the capacity for current and future polyclinics. I typically forecast for at least the next 10 years.

In data analytics, we often say that all predictions are wrong, some are just more useful than others. But with some planning, I hope the forecasts will eventually lead to better access to primary healthcare services for the ageing population and future generations.

I concurrently wear the quality improvement hat. I am in a unique position to marry the use of data with clinic operations. Data can drive process improvements and enhance clinical practices that translate to better health outcomes for our patients.

In NHGP, we adopt a systematic approach to plan the layout of our clinics. I am glad that I have the opportunity to facilitate the planning and have been able to incorporate the use of data in the process too.

What was the most impactful project you worked on this year? 

NHGP was one of the healthcare institutions and the earliest public primary care institution to work with the MOH Office of Healthcare Transformation on a telehealth initiative. My team supported the data needs of this initiative.

While other telehealth services were introduced by the NHGP earlier, one of the most significant projects I worked on is the expanded and enhanced suite of teleconsultation services.

The introduction of video consultations allowed our clinicians and allied health professionals to connect with patients safely. Patients reported very positive overall experience and expressed willingness to use these services.

This is an example of a project where analytics was used to help the polyclinics operationally to identify suitable patients for tele consultations. It was even more meaningful for me when my father who is currently 94 years old opted to use video consultation for his appointment with his polyclinic family physician.

What is one unexpected learning from 2021? 

I have learned in this pandemic that we underestimate the younger generation’s ability to learn and adapt to fast changing environments, and how resilient they are. Children adapt so quickly to regular hand washing, wearing masks, attending lessons from home with the help of technology, and doing weekly ARTs (Antigen Rapid Tests).

I found out that one of the children of a close contact of mine survived the difficult isolation period and did not contract Covid-19 despite staying under the same roof while the rest of the family members were recovering at home.

While I empathise with what the family went through, I was even more inspired by how the young child could step up and be independent despite her not being allowed to have physical interaction with the rest of the family.

What is your favourite memory for the past year? 

I have been personally involved in conducting data analytics training for our clinicians. I am delighted that clinicians are very interested to learn about analytics and how analytics tools can draw insights from data that can help them make better decisions.

One time, a participant shared a problem area that he faced and asked if data could help solve his problem. Not only did I learn a new tool subsequently, I also gleaned much knowledge and wisdom from a specialist researcher in operational research who coached and guided me on process mining. I ventured into this area as I was very keen to explore more deeply the course participant’s problem.

What is a tool or technique you are excited to explore in 2022? What are your priorities for 2022?

I expect that process mining tools and geospatial analytics will feature more prominently in my forecasting work in 2022. I am excited and will continue to learn about their applications. This would also be my priority for 2022.

Who are the mentors and heroes that inspire you? And what gets you up in the morning? 

There are many. People may describe me as fickle on this. It is because my inspiration comes from different people and they are usually the authors of the book that I am reading at that time.

Many years ago, I met Thomas A Stewart when I was working on a knowledge management project. Tom, as he likes to be called, is known for the book ‘The Wealth of Knowledge – Intellectual Capital and the Twenty-First Century Organization’, that he authored.

I recently revisited this book that I received from him. He said “Knowledge is your most important source of added value”. I use this a lot in managing my team. I have an eye for interpreting clinic processes from data.

While I constantly try to impart this knowledge, I also learn different perspectives when I interact with my team of mostly young executives who are passionate about analytics. By the way, my team members have also been the ones who have motivated me and kept me going for the last 12 years in NHGP.