Sherry Du Xiaoyu, Assistant Director, IHiS, Singapore

By Yun Xuan Poon

Women in GovTech Special Report 2021.

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

I have been in IHiS for eight years and I am grateful for the opportunities to contribute to different areas within the healthcare family.

In my first posting to the Changi General Hospital’s (CGH) Chief Information Officer (CIO) office, I led the team to manage IT solutions for Pharmacy and Lab. One of the notable projects we implemented was the Closed Loop Medication Management solution, with an automated Inpatient Pharmacy Automation system that automatically packed patient’s medication into single-dose sachets with barcodes for scanning during medication administration. That greatly improved medication safety, as well as relieved medical staff from administrative work so that they could spend more time on direct patient care.

Subsequently, I moved on to Primary Care, and embarked on a digitisation journey in private-primary care space, which was vastly different from digitisation in public healthcare. Digitising a GP clinic that operated on pen and paper for 20 over years involved many challenges, from understanding all aspects of their current workflow to recommending and mapping them into IT system workflow in the most efficient manner, to basic IT skills training, mindset switch towards the adoption of IT and handholding the Doctors and Clinic Assistants through training, go live and round the clock post-go live support and so on.

It was extremely gratifying to know that the Clinic Assistants finally do not need to search through their stacks of documents in drawers to retrieve a patient’s past case notes, trying to interpret the handwritten instructions, logging in to many different portals to submit data or claims. With GPConnect, daily clinic operations could be done with a few clicks. This shortens the patients’ waiting time, ensuring data accuracy, completeness and data integration with national systems for better patient care.

Since Covid-19 struck, I led a series of product releases since April 2020 to adapt GPConnect to support inpatient care from admission to discharge at the Community Care Facilities (CCF), and subsequently for the National Vaccination Programme. Today, I continue to drive GPConnect product delivery to support the evolving needs of CCFs and the vaccination programme.

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

That would be Vaccination Operations (VacOps).

When GPConnect was selected as the national Electronic Medical Record system for VacOps in Dec 2020, IHiS had less than 2 weeks to develop, test and operationalise GPConnect to suit VacOps workflow, e.g. integration with the National Appointment System and tracking of patient’s observation end time. The highly motivated team made it happen with Christmas and New Year “celebrations” over production deployment conference calls.

That was just the beginning.

With continuously evolving VacOps needs, e.g. screening criteria updates, new vaccine brand, student vaccination, booster shots etc, GPConnect was progressively enhanced, with more than 65 new features, more than 15 releases (still counting at this moment) over 10 months, with the shortest release delivered within 1.5 week.

The hard work ensured a highly efficient and safe vaccination process powered by the IT solution we implemented. To-date, GPConnect has processed more than 9 million doses of vaccinations. With a high vaccination rate, we can all wish for the day we can all resume our normal life. I am happy to be able to contribute to our nation’s effort combating Covid-19.

What is one unexpected learning from 2021?

There are always elements of the unexpected, and expectations can only get higher, e.g. more challenging needs with ever shortening timelines.

But I also learnt that nothing is impossible. Looking back at the 11 months in 2021, there were times when I felt that it was mission impossible, but, with dedication, resilience, and creativity together with a team of competent colleagues, we would eventually find a way out. So, embrace the challenges and changes.

What’s your favourite memory from the past year?

With my super packed work schedule in the past year, I had little time with my family, especially my two young children. I am thankful for their unconditional support and appreciation. It’s heart-warming and unforgettable to read on the Mother’s Day card from my kids, “Mummy I am proud of you for contributing to Singapore”. I hope I have set a good example for them, to give all we can when the duty calls.

What’s a tool or technique you’re excited to explore in 2022?

If there is an opportunity, I would like to explore new areas within healthcare, provided work related to Covid-19 stabilises.

What are your priorities for 2022?

As Covid-19 situation continues to evolve, I will continue driving product implementations to tech-enable Covid-related operations.

In addition, I hope I can set aside some time to share my experiences and knowledge with my team members and help to groom them further.

Who are the mentors and heroes that inspire you?

Our Chief Executive Officer, Mr Bruce Liang. He was personally involved in many of the product design discussions for CCF and VacOps. His foresight and creativity really inspired me and my team. At the start it felt a little ‘pressurising’, but when I looked back, I completely agree that those are all the right things to do, and I am glad that we did it right from the beginning.

What gets you up in the morning?

New challenges and opportunities to learn! That is what makes my work interesting.