'Lego' method helps speed up nursing home construction

At a new nursing home in Woodlands Crescent, putting the rooms together like Lego blocks has helped speed up construction by three months.

Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat used the project as an example of how the healthcare sector can become more productive in the face of a tighter labour market and a rapidly ageing population.

Patient rooms - "complete with internal finishes, fixtures and fittings" - were made elsewhere in a modular fashion and assembled on site, Mr Chee said.

As the bulk of the construction activities and manpower were moved off-site, "dust and noise pollution at the nursing home site were kept to a minimum, and site safety significantly improved", Mr Chee added.

He was speaking yesterday at the opening of the fifth edition of the Healthcare Infrastructure Technology and Engineering Conference at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Patient rooms were made elsewhere in a modular fashion and assembled on site, Mr Chee said. As the bulk of the construction activities and manpower were moved off-site, "dust and noise pollution at the nursing home site were kept to a minimum, and site safety significantly improved", he added.

MOH Holdings (MOHH), the Government's holding company for public healthcare assets, organised the two-day annual conference that tackles issues such as how best to use "smart" technology to improve the way healthcare is delivered.

Dr Norman Wu, who is director of the healthcare infrastructure projects division at MOHH, said that infrastructure development in public healthcare has kept up with targets set under the Master Productivity Plan.

Under this plan, MOHH aims to achieve productivity growth of between 2 per cent and 3 per cent each year between 2010 and 2020.

"This is definitely just a start; we can do better - maybe even 4 or 5 per cent," said Dr Wu.

For example, he added, MOHH has been collecting data over the years, although most of this information remains "dark data", that is, data that is not analysed and remains unused.

"Currently, only 5 to 10 per cent of big data is converted into useful information for decision-making in our projects," Dr Wu said.

Analysing dark data could mean giving decision-makers a better idea of what needs to be improved.

For example, said Dr Wu, it can be used to break down the parts of the procurement process and see which elements take up the most time. "We could then penalise the most time-consuming processes and try to shorten them," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2017, with the headline ''Lego' method helps speed up nursing home construction'. Print Edition | Subscribe