New SMU course in health economics and management among moves to boost health tech sector

Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and Health Chee Hong Tat during a tour of Health Tech Day at SMU Labs, on Friday (March 16).
Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and Health Chee Hong Tat during a tour of Health Tech Day at SMU Labs, on Friday (March 16).ST PHOTO: FELICIA CHOO

SINGAPORE - As part of efforts to develop infocomm technology (ICT) capabilities in the healthcare sector, the Singapore Management University (SMU) will be offering a second major in health economics and management.

Students will learn about healthcare administration, policy, economics, management, operations and analytics, with work-based learning in hospitals and other healthcare institutions.

This was announced on Friday (March 16) in conjunction with Health Tech Day, which was organised by the Infocomm Media Development Authority and Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS).

The event, held at SMU Labs, near Victoria Street, brought together more than 40 organisations, including healthcare institutions, companies and training partners, to showcase product innovations. It also offered more than 500 job opportunities in the health tech sector.

Amid spiralling healthcare costs and a rapidly ageing population, Singapore is stepping up its efforts to boost the health tech workforce through more training, education and job opportunities.

To support mid-career professionals in their transition to the healthcare sector, IHiS has set a target to place and train 50 mid-career professionals, managers, executives and technicians through Workforce Singapore's Adapt and Grow Professional Conversion Programmes over the next two years.

They will be trained over a period of three to nine months for jobs such as network engineer, mobile application developer and software developer.

A participant at Health Tech Day learning how to use a machine that packs and dispenses medication in bottles, as part of the Outpatient Pharmacy Automation System. ST PHOTO: FELICIA CHOO

Existing ICT professionals will also benefit from training in in-demand skills in cyber security, data analytics, cloud computing and software development, with global biopharmaceutical company MSD joining the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) initiative.

The initiative aims to accelerate professional development for tech jobs. MSD will provide more than 90 ICT professionals with on-the-job training and overseas attachments over the next three years.

About 27,000 have been trained since the initiative started in April 2016.

Mr Bruce Liang, chief information officer of the Ministry of Health (MOH) and chief executive officer of IHiS, said: "Health tech is an exciting space to be in now. Investments in this sector grew by 7 per cent over the last three years. Moving forward, the growth is expected to double and grow by some 13 per cent in the next three years. The trajectory growth would translate to a demand of approximately 1,200 more health IT jobs."

A new initiative to identify and solve healthcare challenges through technology on a national scale was launched this week.

Organised by IHiS, the National HealthTech Challenge brings together healthcare professionals, research institutes and the tech industry to come up with solutions, of which 10 will be selected for pilots in the third quarter of the year.

The challenge is themed to align with MOH's three shifts - Beyond Healthcare to Health, Beyond Hospital to Community, and Beyond Quality to Value.

Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and Health Chee Hong Tat said at Health Tech Day: "If we can innovate new solutions to tackle our healthcare challenges, not only can we provide better care for our people, we also create economic opportunities for our companies to export their solutions to other cities around the world that are also experiencing similar demographic shifts."