Francois Gremy Award of Excellence

First Asian honoured for health informatics

Dr Lun Kwok Chan accepting the Francois Gremy Award of Excellence from current International Medical Informatics Association president Park Hyeoun Ae at the MedInfo 2017 opening ceremony in Hangzhou, China, on Aug 22.
Dr Lun Kwok Chan accepting the Francois Gremy Award of Excellence from current International Medical Informatics Association president Park Hyeoun Ae at the MedInfo 2017 opening ceremony in Hangzhou, China, on Aug 22.PHOTO: CHINA MEDICAL INFORMATICS ASSOCIATION

Retired S'pore professor gave out global award when it was launched 13 years ago

Things have come full circle for retired professor Lun Kwok Chan.

He has received the very award he gave out 13 years ago - the first time the award was given out as the highest international honour for health informatics.

This is a discipline that deals with the use of info-communications technology in healthcare.

Health informatics includes the use of electronic medical records, hospital information systems and telemedicine.

The International Medical Informatics Association (Imia) Francois Gremy Award of Excellence that Dr Lun received recently was the same award he gave to French author and physician Francois Gremy in 2004.

Professor Gremy pioneered medical informatics as a discipline, writing books explaining how to combine medicine and informatics.

TAPPING TECHNOLOGY

The advances in information technology over the last 50 years have now spurred the growth of data technology and spawned the development of big data, data analytics and data farms... I thought, hey, with all this data, why not do data analytics?

DR LUN KWOK CHAN

The Imia Award of Excellence was first given out in 2004. It was named after Prof Gremy after his death in 2014.

Dr Lun is the first Asian and the first Singaporean to win the award.

He accepted it at the 16th MedInfo conference in Huangzhou, China, about three months ago.

The 70-year-old started out as a medical statistician, teaching medical statistics and promoting the use of computers in medicine at the National University of Singapore.

"The advances in information technology over the last 50 years have now spurred the growth of data technology and spawned the development of big data, data analytics and data farms," Dr Lun told The Straits Times.

"I thought, hey, with all this data, why not do data analytics?"

In describing how data could be analysed and used, Dr Lun cited a study by American store Target in 2012.

The study looked through customer receipt data to determine which customers were more likely to be pregnant. Target then sent them customised coupons, with discounts on items for babies or mothers-to-be.

"Similarly, Singapore has been using data through electronic medical records, leveraging the data to provide quality patient care, thus streamlining workflow, shortening waiting time, and so on," said Dr Lun.

He is chief executive of Gateway Consulting, a firm that conducts courses on biostatistics, health informatics and data analytics in healthcare.

After an almost 40-year academic career, Dr Lun was surprised and touched to have won the Imia award.

"I normally don't talk about my achievements, but for this one, I do feel very proud," said the married grandfather of a seven-month-old girl. Dr Lun has a son and a daughter.

Imia, the organisation that presented Dr Lun with the award, is an independent association for health and biomedical informatics. It brings together constituent organisations and their members to discuss and improve healthcare worldwide.

Dr Lun was the second Asian president of Imia, from 2001 to 2004.

"Never would I have dreamt that 13 years later, I would receive the same award I first gave out," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2017, with the headline 'First Asian honoured for health informatics'. Print Edition | Subscribe