02-May-2019 Digitising Healthcare To Better Lives Page Content Desmond Oh, a senior software engineer at IHiS, is usually uncomfortable when asked to talk about himself. But when asked to describe the work he does, the bespectacled 31-year old lights up. His enthusiasm for HealthTech is evident. Desmond works on the technical design of healthcare applications at IHiS, a company he joined five years ago when he graduated from the Nanyang Technological University’s School of Engineering. He wanted a challenging role that would stretch his abilities and be excited about going into work each day.It would appear that he has found what he was looking for. Never A Dull Moment In HealthTech Desmond’s earliest memory on the job was during the 2015 outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in South Korea. Hospitals in Singapore were on high alert. For Desmond and his team, it was a frantic race against the clock to help mitigate and curb the situation – by updating hospital intake forms across the public healthcare system in the shortest time possible. This enabled gathering of additional information such as the country a potential patient had travelled from so healthcare professionals could better identify, screen and isolate those at risk.His team deployed the solution within a day.The affable young man said while it was just ‘simple code’, it made him realise that speed is critical for software engineers like him who on some occasions might be called upon to beaver away through day and night because “hospitals run 24/7 so providing real-time, on-going support is a requirement,” Desmond explains.A typical day for him includes a sprint for an ongoing project - the planned amount of work that has to be completed for client review before the team can move on to the next stage in the project - as well as maintenance support for other delivered applications which runs from fixing bugs in the software to making changes per clients’ request.“Our work impacts the entire public healthcare system so you have to be quite on the ball because when problems arise, they have to be resolved as quickly as possible so that patients are not affected,” he adds.Delivering projects within strict timelines with minimal impact to hospital operations while keeping costs low is all part of the job. And Desmond derives great satisfaction from solving problems, especially if it involves new code libraries.Suffice to say, Desmond believes that HealthTech is a rewarding career and one that pays well. “Factors such as remuneration and work-life balance are definitely quite appealing at IHiS compared to some IT companies or industries,” he shares. Improving Clinical Processes With Technology Desmond has had a hand in developing programmes to digitalise the sector; moving healthcare professionals away from pen and paper to deliver better outcomes for patients. One he’s particularly proud of has enabled clinicians to track a patient’s condition at a glance of the screen.He shares that nurses at the National University Hospital emergency ward used to manually chart patients’ vital signs such as their blood pressure and temperature. They would map it out on paper and physically connect the dots to create a graph. Now, each time they key in a patient’s updated vitals, the results are plotted automatically to create a graphical overview. It took a team of five at IHiS, who were working closely with the clinicians, almost four months to perfect.“It certainly helps with workflow processes at healthcare institutions. Anything that speeds up diagnosis is always a positive thing for patients,” notes Desmond.Indeed, digitised information on a patient’s procedures, medication, diagnostic tests and interactions with the care team can be shared seamlessly between various healthcare providers. This results in not only faster triaging and evaluation but also more accurate patient diagnosis at each stage of care. The billing process is also simplified and streamlined. It’s All About The CultureAs a fresh graduate entering IHiS, Desmond had little knowledge of the fast-paced HealthTech industry and recounts being stumped by medical acronyms and the various clinical systems the complex industry runs on. It took him about two years to navigate the healthcare landscape confidently. But that’s no reason to be apprehensive about entering the field. “The team culture is great here. My senior teammates were more than willing to help me,” says Desmond. “IHiS believes in self-learning and there is an emphasis on being independent but if you encounter any difficulties, you just need to ask.”With several years of experience under his belt, Desmond pays it forward by guiding new hires. He likens his job to that of a line cook in a kitchen, where everyone in a team has to work seamlessly together to serve up the perfect dish in good time. And when things go wrong as they sometimes will, it’s not the end of the world.“There is no finger pointing and all of that. The applications we work on are mission critical. You just sit together, resolve it, and move on.”“Ultimately if you are looking for something fulfilling and want your work to be meaningful, go for healthcare,” he sums up.Like Desmond, you too can be a part of a supportive yet challenging environment at IHiS.