Christine Ang, Deputy Director, Emerging Capabilities-Health Insights, IHiS, Singapore

By Shirley Tay

Women in GovTech Special Report 2020.

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

I am from the Health Insights team at IHiS. As a Programme Director, I lead the planning and implementation of national analytics / AI projects, working closely with stakeholders from MOH and public health institutions to explore, adopt and exploit data and AI as part of their transformative programmes to improve care and quality to our population.

One notable project which my team and I implemented is the Multiple Readmissions Predictive Model, the first AI decision support model used in all public hospitals in Singapore which identifies patients likely to be readmitted multiple times over the next year for early targeted interventions. With this actionable insight, healthcare professionals can proactively intervene under the Hospital to Home (H2H) programme to arrange for post-discharged community-based support services and keep the discharged patients well at home.
I devised the strategies and plans, and oversaw the roll out of the implementation with strong support from stakeholders and MOH.

This is an iterative, learning journey for all us as the team consistently reviews the data to identify areas of opportunities to improve the AI as well as the way hospitals intervene.

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

2020 has been an extremely busy year especially for HealthTech professionals in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

IHiS, being the health tech agency for the public healthcare sector, was activated to support MOH and our public healthcare institutions in more than 50 COVID-19 initiatives. One of the initiatives I worked on was the Covid-19 Test Repository (CTR). CTR was built within a very short period of time consolidating all Covid-19 laboratory test results around the country as a central repository to support a host of cross-Ministry planning and operational activities like contact tracing, swab operations, quarantine orders and the conveyance of patients for pandemic management.

I can still remember the day when my team and I were called to action on a Saturday evening in April and we immediately started working round the clock to deliver the first Minimum Viable Product (MVP) within 3 days from the commissioning of the project. We had to adopt an “extreme” agile approach to cater to the evolving requirements of multiple groups of users from the various government agencies (including MOH, MOM, HPB and SAF) as well as public and private healthcare institutions. Our team is still working on this tirelessly to support the upcoming activities to facilitate the nation’s phased re-opening.

My key role in this initiative is to design and implement different visualisations and dashboards using the Covid-19 test results to support operations planning, management reporting and analytics at the national level. Using data visualisation techniques, I helped close information gaps, providing insights to the evolving Covid-19 testing situation and timeliness of lab result turnaround times to enable calculation of estimated downstream capacity required and planning for testing strategies.

While the work is tough, I was constantly inspired by the teamwork, commitment and sincerity across all levels of stakeholders who came together and selflessly contributed towards the protection of our citizen’s well-being.

What is one unexpected learning from 2020?

On the personal front, one unexpected learning from 2020 has been learning to cope with the conflicting priorities of work and family. Working from home, rushing for a pandemic project has blurred the line between office hours and family time. I had to learn to make a conscientious effort to “knock off” from work, take breaks in between and connect with my loved ones and friends to relieve the pressure as well as keep my family nucleus strong during this uncharted period.

What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2021?

I believe as we move higher up in the maturity of AI implementation, Explainable AI (XAI) is a technique that I will be watching out for as it can be used to create a fair and transparent environment for users to build trust and confidence in AI-made decisions to drive AI adoption.

What are your priorities for 2021?

For the better part of 2021, I will continue to focus on Covid-19 initiatives to help Singapore adapt to the evolving effects of the pandemic.

Additionally, my team will also be planning to expand more into the medical imaging and genomics space. By using new techniques in analysing this data and combining clinical, lifestyle and social economics data, I foresee a lot of innovative and novel developments coming our way.

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

When I first started, there were not many women doing what I was doing. I am heartened to see many outstanding women colleagues in this transformative journey over the years. I believe that women have a strong sense of intuition to discern what would work and what would not. Many times it is that, coupled with the confidence to challenge and express our views that brings a fresh perspective to what we have been doing, how things can be done differently and how technology can be best applied to bring the greatest value to our citizens.

Write a message for your future self.

I hope that the Health Tech initiatives and strategies that we have implemented today have played a part in providing Singaporeans with better health, care and quality of life.

Hope that you are proud of what we have achieved.