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MOHH Healthcare Administration (SGIS) Scholar Finds Her Calling at IHiS

As a Systems Analyst (Data Analytics & AI), Shriya’s workday starts off with mapping data from the existing source systems into the new and upgraded Electronic Medical Records solution, the Next Generation Electronic Medical Record (NGEMR), which records the entire patient journey from the point of admission to discharge, including both medical and administrative data.

Shriya explains, “Having a single integrated system will improve quality of care for patients and collaboration between healthcare professionals. It allows a patient’s medical history to be accessed by multiple healthcare providers. This holistic view allows closer monitoring of patients who are due for check-ups, screenings, vaccinations or other tests. The NGEMR also makes is easier for patients to schedule their visits and track their medical results. This can help reduce cost for the patients and the need for them to go through repeat tests if they switch care providers. In this situation, doctors would normally have to specifically request for records from another institution, but with this improved system, doctors would be able to view the patient medical history online.”

Shriya supports the technical team with the design, development as well as testing of the system. She adds, “A lot of work from the team has been put in to customise the NGEMR to address the care gaps across healthcare institutions. With new enhancements, comes testing, testing and more testing. We have to make sure these improvements can integrate with the existing healthcare systems. Through the many tests and trainings, we collect feedback and continue to fine tune the system.”

She added, “I’m motivated by the fact that whatever I do is a contribution to our public healthcare system. The work that I do at IHiS is meaningful and at the same time, challenging and exhilarating. I have had the opportunity to learn so much about both IT and healthcare since I have joined IHiS and that is also something that keeps me going.”

In search for a fulfilling career that aligns with her passion

On what first sparked her interest in HealthTech, she recollects, “I always wanted my career to be a mix of passion and purpose. Analytics was something I was passionate about but I realised that working in a profit-driven corporation would not give me the purpose that I was seeking for. Fortunately, I was able to attend a Healthcare Scholarships talk on the healthcare sector when I was in junior college. During the talk, the administration aspect of healthcare was briefly mentioned and it ignited something in me. Then, I did my own research on the lesser-known administration side of healthcare. I realised that the role played by administrators is also very meaningful and that one could contribute to our healthcare system without being on the frontlines.”

Shriya had the opportunity to work in IHiS as an intern when she was at National University of Singapore School of Computing. It was then she was introduced to the Command, Control and Communications (C3), a system co-developed by Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) and IHiS, that gives a bird’s eye view of the thousands of ongoing operations indicators in a hospital. IHiS implemented disease outbreak widgets to monitor the patient inflow at the screening centre, video analytics and image recognition to support crowd control and contact tracing, status of the Lab and Radiology departments and its waiting time, and status of bed occupancy in the outbreak wards.

She explains, “This real-time visibility of patient flow and resources on the ground enables the hospital to predict situation before they occur so they can better allocate resources to guide decision making. This came in very useful in managing the outbreak of COVID-19. With the increasing patient volume, the decision support provided by the C3 system allowed the team to pull together resources quickly to strengthen operations at TTSH’s Screening Centre. The predictive element of C3 also enables TTSH to adjust manpower distribution when the need arises, a factor that is crucial in such a pandemic. It was then that I saw how a single system could have such a large positive impact on public healthcare. This further cemented my interest in HealthTech.”

Overcoming her biggest challenge in the HealthTech field

The most challenging moment in Shriya’s job at IHiS was picking up the required domain knowledge for healthcare. She pointed out, “Healthcare is very complex with many different processes and systems in place. For example, there are many different patient journeys to consider such as day surgery, outpatient and inpatient. When we are developing a system, we need to better understand all these different patient journeys from the time they enter the hospital to the time they leave. This includes understanding their bed allocation, medications, lab orders a, surgeries within the hospital, etc. Learning about all these can be daunting for newbies. Even after many months of working in IHiS, there are still so many new things I get to learn in this domain.”

No two days are the same

Shriya describes her typical day at work as fast-paced and non-routine, which makes it more interesting. “Data mapping is basically looking at the data attributes in the old systems and matching them to attributes in the new system. To do this, we need to profile the data, learn more about the old and new system and gather constant feedback from stakeholders. We face different challenges every day. When a problem is surfaced, we would have to investigate and fix them promptly. This process is essential to minimise impact to the end users. If we do not do a good job with data mapping, the end users may not have the relevant information needed to build critical reports and conduct analysis.”

Shriya highlights the most rewarding part of her job and what keeps her going at work everyday.

“Data mapping is the first step to facilitate data migration, data integration, and other data management projects. Any lapse in data mapping can trigger a ripple effect throughout your organisation, causing inaccurate analysis and insights. This is what keeps me on my toes and makes work more engaging. And knowing that clinicians and researchers are using what I do to help them make better decisions for patients has been very fulfilling.

How the MOHH Healthcare Administration (SGIS) Scholarship opened doors to her HealthTech career

Shriya submitted her application form on Bright Sparks, a scholarship and higher education portal that help students apply for scholarships. A few weeks later, she was invited for an interview. Before the interview, she had to submit a set of slides introducing herself. She was pleasantly surprised the process was not as long and arduous as she expected. She remembers, “The best and most unique part about interview process is that there is only 1 round and they inform you if you are successful or not, within 24 hours! That’s speed!”

Shriya received benefits such as tuition fees, hostel allowance and overseas exchange allowance. She appreciated these benefits that were really helpful in enriching her university experience. “Without them, I may not have chosen to stay on campus or gone for an overseas exchange program. I lived in Residential College 4 in NUS for my first two years. It was the first time I was staying away from home for a prolonged period of time. Living, learning and enjoying university with friends is something that I will always cherish. I also had the opportunity to study in the University of Virginia for a semester. Living alone in a completely new country really taught me more about adulting and being independent than any other experience did. It was great to travel around the US and immerse myself in the local culture there. These real-life experiences made me a more independent and confident person and prepared me for the working world.”

Apart from the monetary benefits, MOHH gives its scholars development and networking opportunities. One such opportunity is the Healthcare Induction Program which consists of a 3 day camp and series of seminars to learn more about yourself as an individual and the healthcare sector as a whole. Scholars also can join the Singapore Healthcare Society (SHS) which organises various fun and educational events such as dialect and language courses.

In this video, Shriya shares more about the scholarship she received, why she pursued a career in HealthTech and more.

Dispelling a myth about breaking into the HealthTech industry

The use of technology is an integral part of almost every major industry so it is no surprise that there is a great demand for the tech talent pool. Shriya shared some misconceptions young talents might have on the HealthTech industry compared to the more well-known ones like Fintech, RegTech or even Gaming.

“Many might think that embarking on a HealthTech career requires specialist knowledge on healthcare. But this is not the case. People may not be aware that IHiS’ field of work includes IT operations, data science, analytics, artificial intelligence, software development, engineering and many more which means that there is a place for all IT professionals here. Such work ensures that our healthcare systems are up and running 24/7. Without this proper technical refresh and system maintenance, hospital operations can be heavily disrupted which will have a direct impact on the patients.”

More insight on the ever-increasing role IHiS plays in healthcare in Singapore

3 words come to Shriya Pai’s mind when reflecting on her time at IHiS. “Rewarding. Engaging. Transformative.”

Shriya affirmed that she finds her job in IHiS meaningful because she sees the work she does everyday can indeed make a difference to our healthcare systems.

“The pandemic has shown us just how important healthcare is. From tech enablement of the community care facilities to vaccine operations, IHiS has supported our nation’s fight against COVID-19 every step of the way and this is just one of the ways HealthTech makes an impact. With emerging technologies, there is more we can harness to make a difference to society and the opportunity to do that is what IHiS offers.”

The article was first published by Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS).
For more information about the IHiS Graduate Development Programme (GDP), download the brochure here.