How do you use technology to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.
I am currently the CIO of the Health Promotion Board (HPB). In tandem with advances in technology, HPB has evolved in the way we promote health. When HPB was first established in 2001 with the vision to build a nation of healthy people, health promotion programmes were mainly delivered through public education and campaigns. In recent years, there has been a strategic shift to incorporate the use of technology to nudge behavioural change and empower Singaporeans to take charge of their health.
What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2016?
I would say HealthHub. The Ministry of Health (MOH) and HPB worked closely with the Integrated Health Information Systems and public healthcare institutions to develop HealthHub – Singapore’s first one-stop online tool for health information and services. HealthHub is easily accessible via a website and a mobile app, bringing added convenience to Singaporeans and making it easier for everyone to take ownership of their health.
It includes features such as general health and wellness content, services to allow users to access their own and their children’s health records, and various health-related shopping deals. Users are able to earn and accumulate reward points when they share health articles or calendar events on social media platforms.
The aim is to continuously develop HealthHub to make it a useful “must-have” digital health companion for Singaporeans.
Another project that I am proud of is Healthy 365. This is a mobile application which powers the National Steps Challenge (NSC). NSC is the first nation-wide steps movement of an unprecedented scale, and has encouraged 156,000 participants to sit less and walk more!
For the National Steps Challenge, we integrated a physical activity sensor in the form of a wearable steps tracker with our Healthy 365 mobile app. The app can track calorie intake from food consumed, calories burnt from the wearable tracker, and provides information on healthier eateries, exercise facilities and health-related events in your vicinity.
We are encouraged by the popularity of the Healthy 365 app which has continued to be one of the most popular fitness apps among Singaporeans with over 200,000 downloads to date.
HealthHub and Healthy 365 are aligned with the government’s vision of a Smart Nation by harnessing information technology to enhance lives and build stronger communities. This is also consistent with HPB’s strategic focus to leverage technology to nudge Singaporeans to change their behaviour and adopt healthier lifestyles.
What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2017?
With pervasive mobile connectivity, data can be captured and accessed anywhere, anytime and in many ways. This has opened up a whole new world of technological innovations in areas such as sensors, wearables, machine learning, digital health platforms, personal analytics and gamification, which will have increasing impact on how we live, work and play.
With more people becoming tech-savvy, the digitisation of health records and proliferation of health-related apps for consumers, technology has become a very powerful enabler that we can harness to promote health and encourage healthy living.
If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in 2016, what would it be?
To think big, start small, fail fast and learn fast. In a quick-paced and ever changing environment, this focus on innovation, adaptability and nimbleness is critical.
And finally, if you could recommend us one place to eat, where would it be?
The Nassim Hill Bakery Bistro Bar!