The healthcare industry’s heavy reliance on legacy systems, regulation and security challenges makes the journey toward digital transformation a significant hurdle. We saw this during the COVID-19 pandemic as many large healthcare systems scrambled to integrate digital technology at speed. While many healthcare institutions were caught off guard, Singapore Health Services (SingHealth), whose mission is “to define tomorrow’s medicine,” was poised to meet these challenges head on.
From cloud adoption to artificial intelligence (AI), automation to the internet of things (IoT), IBM Consulting has been helping SingHealth keep the lights for two decades. This partnership allows the public healthcare cluster to remain agile and navigate ongoing changes in compliance and technology. This means they can focus on what matters most: improving workforce productivity to deliver better patient outcomes.
An evolving partnership
SingHealth was born out of a regrouping of Singapore’s public health care system. Initiated by Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH), the goal was to better support an aging population and manage chronic diseases while addressing healthcare workforce and spending growth. Today, SingHealth is the largest of Singapore’s three public healthcare clusters providing first-class healthcare. Each year, more than 3.8 million patients visit its four hospitals, three community hospitals, five specialty centers and eight polyclinics.
In 2000, SingHealth’s longstanding relationship with IBM Consulting began with the design and integration of its healthcare information system. After this initial engagement, the IBM team became well-versed in SingHealth’s unique requirements, such as aligning their system to the Ministry of Health’s direction and maintaining compliance with statutory compliance.
HR digital transformation
In 2010, SingHealth needed to consolidate its disparate HR systems across its hospitals, specialty centers and polyclinics. SingHealth again turned to IBM Consulting, along with SAP Asia Pacific Japan, to build a single HR platform.
This system replaced the siloed systems with a common platform, facilitating better collaboration among the ten institutions involved. It also standardized policies on compensation and benefits, performance reviews and career development throughout the healthcare cluster. Following this standardization involving IBM Consulting the cluster won multiple HR awards including the SingHealth Enterprise award for IBM’s commitment as a “Partner in Our Success.”
Moving to the cloud securely
In 2016, SingHealth needed a better way to store, manage and process an ever-increasing amount of healthcare-related data. IBM Consulting facilitated the implementation and migration of their applications from physical on-premise legacy to private cloud systems.
By combining the benefits of cloud with the security and control of on-premises IT infrastructure, this solution was able to meet the Singapore Ministry of Health’s stringent standards for data governance. It also provided a critical layer of private cloud security to protect SingHealth’s IT system and its patients’ health information from attacks, breaches and other threats.
In 2017, the Ministry of Health launched yet another reorganization of the public health system into three integrated regional clusters. Subsequently, IBM Consulting played a key role in the merger of Singapore’s Eastern Health Alliance (EHA), located in the country’s eastern region with SingHealth, ensuring a smooth transition of the consolidation of applications across HR, finance, procurement and other critical areas.
Meeting COVID-19 challenges
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, SingHealth’s HR processes had to be adapted to meet the requirements of the government’s COVID-19 healthcare strategy. Here, IBM Consulting worked to upgrade the cluster’s HR platform to process applications from employees who needed to take COVID-related leave.
Fulfilling statuary compliance and making continuous improvements
Building upon a foundation of strict regulatory compliance is critical to a healthcare organization’s reputation. IBM Consulting works with SingHealth to ensure the cluster complies with statutory and union requirements, and other mandates issued by the Ministry of Health.
Through its application management services, IBM Consulting continues to keep SingHealth’s HR and IT systems up-to-date and in line with business functions. This enables the cluster’s frontline professionals to operate efficiently and productively.
Keeping the lights on
Today, SingHealth’s applications cater to 17 institutions with more than 35,000 employees and are designed to scale and grow with the cluster.
IBM Consulting is proud to continue helping SingHealth keep the lights on so the healthcare system can deliver on its mission of defining tomorrow’s medicine.