Q: What have been other learnings from implementing the C3 system?


A: First was the need to have a clear vision of why we had to implement a command center and its different functions and value to other people. It was important to be clear about the value that the system could provide, especially in the early stages.


Second was the need to ensure the quality of the data that went into the system, which determined the quality of its output. When we first started the C3 system, we did not have a consolidated enterprise EMR system within NHG. This meant we spent much time cleaning the data and integrating the relevant systems. Good data management is a critical aspect of making a system work.


Third, and most importantly, was the need to make the data dashboard useful to add value to the work of the respective stakeholders.

Q: How do you see the role of the C3 system evolving in the next few years?


A: Thus far, we have focused its role on running hospital operations – using operational data such as bed utilization, staff availability, etc. In time, we hope to dive deeper into other aspects, such as how to use clinical parameters or patient characteristics to sharpen predictions to help better manage patient flow and capacity planning. It is something we are very interested in as a next step. For example, when we have a 64-year-old female patient with chest pain visiting our hospital, and we have her doctor’s assessment, lab results, and radiology reports – can all that clinical data help bring about more precise predictions for treatment and the specific length of hospital care/stay the patient requires? This would be what I deem as increasing the depth of use of the C3 system.


Next, we hope to increase the breadth of its use beyond TTSH and NCID to the other hospitals within NHG. So if we apply our C3 capabilities more widely across our cluster, we could, for example, predict the patient load of each hospital and redeploy resources where necessary for better patient flow and care.

Q: Are there any other innovations that can complement or enhance the effectiveness of a command center in addressing staffing challenges?


A: Building on what I said about the importance of translating data into useful actions, I see a big opportunity for generative AI to support more interactive and real-time data inquiries. Traditionally, we have relied on relatively static dashboards and visualisations, which take effort and skills to adjust for the people using them. With rapid advances in natural language processing, it is fast becoming a reality for people to directly ‘converse’ with data and probe deeper into the data points they are most interested in. It would almost be equivalent to having a super-scientist sitting beside you.


More broadly, if we want to better retain our healthcare workers, I believe we need to keep identifying ways to automate administrative and repetitive tasks so that our employees can focus on value-added work, motivated simply by their passion and call of duty for patients – which is CARE. For me, that would be the holy grail.


This conversation has been edited for flow and clarity.


[1] https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/politics/with-aged-care-critical-spore-will-need-more-foreign-nurses-ong-ye-kung


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