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

As Head of the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Clinical Director of the Office of Clinical Epidemiology, Analytics, and kNowledge (OCEAN) at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), I oversee the hospital’s efforts in the clinical surveillance of patients and staff, epidemiological investigations and contract tracing, and data management and data analytics to guide clinical and operational decisions on patient care and population health in TTSH and Central Singapore.

We have built Clinical Surveillance Dashboards which interface with electronic medical records and administrative systems, to provide real-time alerts on emerging infectious diseases (such as Covid-19, MERS, and avian influenza), timely aberration detection of surges in endemic diseases (such as dengue fever and seasonal influenza), and cluster detection of infectious syndromes (including acute respiratory illness and gastroenteritis).

We have also leveraged wearable technologies such as the RFID-enabled Real-time Locating System (RTLS) tag to protect the safety of patients, staff, and visitors during the Covid-19 pandemic. The RTLS tags provided to patients, staff, and visitors can locate as well as detect the proximity and duration of contact between individuals within the hospital. They enabled expedient contact tracing within the hospital, and the rapid identification and management of close contacts prevented any transmission of Covid-19 in the hospital.

Additionally, the daily surveillance of >12,000 staff’s health was enabled by mobile applications and an intranet platform presenting staff with convenient channels for sickness reporting and temperature recording. Algorithms defining staff sickness clusters provided alerts on emerging outbreaks for immediate control measures further preventing any nosocomial transmission.

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

It would be the development of the Clinical Surveillance Dashboards. The real-time interfaces enabled the creation of real-time alerts and queries on-the-fly, providing critical clinical and operational decision support as the Covid-19 pandemic evolved.

What is one unexpected learning from 2020?

Responding to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 has taught me the invaluable lesson of being versatile in the face of uncertainty and in handling ever-changing information coming from all directions and in all forms, shapes, and sizes – from the mainstream media, to social media, to official circulars and emails, to never-ending Whatsapp and TigerConnect messages. In order to effectively protect staff, patients, and visitors from acquiring Covid-19 in the hospital, I learned that one has to be versatile in developing new surveillance tools, building new relationships, forging new collaborations, and implementing novel solutions from untraditional, unconventional, and unimaginable sources. And, the efforts are well worth it!

What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2021?

Analysis of N-of-1 trials for personalisation to individual patients and healthcare providers to enhance the effectiveness of interventions for treatment and prevention.

What are your priorities for 2021?

My priority for 2021 would be to harness the potential of our next-generation electronic medical records, to build more seamless data visualisation and real-time clinical decision support tools for better patient care and preventive health.

What advice would you give to women looking to start a career in GovTech?

Let your passion and personal mission guide you.

Write a message for your future self.

The lessons of 2020 have shaped who you are today.