03-Jan-2019 Transforming data into meaningful insights Page Content"The end product of an analysis is not a model: it is rhetoric. An analysis is meaningless unless it convinces someone to take action." Hadley Wickham, Chief Scientist at RStudio was once quoted as saying. It is with this in mind that IHiS employs a team of data scientists, such as Zi Chao. We had a conversation with him on what it means to be one and what it’s like to work at IHiS.“I’m from the Health Insights department in IHiS. As the HealthTech agency of Singapore, we look at how we can make use of data and technology to improve population health outcomes and operational efficiency on the ground,” he said. As a data scientist, he spends a great deal of time working with data. There are many aspects to this, with the four major steps being data collection, processing, modelling and visualisation. He gives an analogy most people would be able to relate to.“If you asked me to recommend you a movie, I need to first collect some information on your movie preferences. Based on your movie preferences, I would then shortlist movies that you have not watched before with similar characteristics, so that they are novel yet relatable to you. What are some of the movies that have received rave reviews so far? Do you intend to watch the movie with your date, family members or friends? With these answers, I would be able to fine-tune my recommendation accordingly. Last but not least, I have to convince you why my recommendation makes sense. As you can imagine, there are many considerations involved even for a seemingly simple task like movie recommendation – not to mention something as complex as healthcare,” he laughed. End goalFor Zi Chao, one of his end goals of working in IHiS is to improve user experience. To do that, it is important to be aware of users’ needs. As such, Zi Chao thinks it is important for a data scientist to relate well to people. He spends time engaging his partners – Ministry of Health, colleagues and healthcare providers – to understand their needs, making it easier for him to translate their needs to viable solutions from a technical perspective. “Ultimately, the product has to benefit our population. Analytics is meant to improve the way healthcare is delivered, to empower our partners with the right insights at the right time to help patients effectively,” he said. Working in IHiSBesides his regular work, Zi Chao enjoys getting the opportunity to explore “blue sky” projects. The idea is that everyone gets some free time to explore a project that is not a work target for the year. He and his colleagues are currently working on using analytics to identify elderly patients at high risk for falls and try to reduce such occurrences. He finds the work in IHiS meaningful, because it has a great impact on population health. In what is commonly known as the “digital age”, his thinks his knowledge and technical skills as a data scientist would continue to be relevant to healthcare IT in the foreseeable future.“What excites me is knowing that my work is potentially transformational. What I do today could have profound implications on the way patient care is delivered tomorrow,” Zi Chao enthused. Just last year, one of the projects he was involved in – the Multiple Readmissions Predictive Model (MRPM) – won the Public Sector Transformation award. The MRPM automatically identifies patients who are likely to be admitted three or more times within a year. There was positive feedback of how it has been used to improve the delivery of transitional care to patients since its launch in April 2017. He was and remains very proud of being part of that award-winning team, an experience which contributes to a sense of satisfaction working in IHiS. To find out more information about career opportunities at IHiS, click here.