SAF doc's bent for innovation spurs him to improve delivery of medical services

Major (Dr) Aaron Chua was given the Exemplary Innovator Award on July 30, 2021, for his many innovative projects.
Major (Dr) Aaron Chua was given the Exemplary Innovator Award on July 30, 2021, for his many innovative projects.PHOTO: MINDEF

SINGAPORE - From a young age, Major Aaron Chua has enjoyed tinkering with things to improve them.

While in secondary school, he invented a new kind of toilet pipe in the hope of preventing clogs, and also a new broom plus dustpan that allows people to sweep with less effort. The pipe project failed while the broom project succeeded.

His bent for innovation has spurred him to improve the delivery of medical services as a doctor in the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

Last year, during the Covid-19 pandemic, he created a telemedicine platform that was used in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) community Covid-19 recovery facilities, allowing medical staff to provide virtual consultations for the thousands of infected foreign workers recuperating in the facilities.

With the platform, the medical staff did not have to be physically present at the facilities, and this halved the number of hours they had to spend in personal protective equipment.

A total of 439 consultations were conducted over the platform, in the process proving that medical conditions can be managed through such platforms without compromising on safety, said Maj Chua, 32, who heads the plans and training branch of the Air Force Medical Service.

He was given the Exemplary Innovator Award at the Public Sector Transformation Award ceremony last Friday (July 30) for his many innovative projects.

After learning from this experience, Maj Chua went on to develop another application, Soldier Health, that is slated to be a one-stop mobile healthcare app for the Ministry of Defence and SAF.

For a start, the application will allow the booking of telemedicine consultations for servicemen to minimise waiting time. Other functions already being developed will allow medical staff to perform triage and measure vital signs like heart rate and oxygen saturation remotely.

The app is already undergoing usability testing, and will be rolled out progressively from next month.

Speaking about his inspiration for the application, Maj Chua said: "As a doctor, I worked with patients on a day-to-day basis when training in hospitals... and providing a patient-centric experience is very close to my heart."