Coronavirus: Singapore

IHiS team quickly added pandemic features in new IT system

The Command, Control and Communications (C3) system at Tan Tock Seng Hospital helped the National Centre for Infectious Diseases to quickly make bed space available for patients and safely manage crowd flow.
The Command, Control and Communications (C3) system at Tan Tock Seng Hospital helped the National Centre for Infectious Diseases to quickly make bed space available for patients and safely manage crowd flow. PHOTO: IHIS

After a new IT system was launched in December 2019, a team at Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS) had plans to develop more features for pandemic management over a 12-month period.

But when it became clear the Covid-19 pandemic "was coming our way in January last year, we finished this in about four months", said Mr Bruce Liang, who is the chief executive of the technology agency for public healthcare.

IHiS was honoured yesterday at the IT Leader Awards for its role in helping to develop the Command, Control and Communications (C3) system.

The C3 system at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) helped the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) to quickly make bed space available for patients and safely manage the crowd flow as Covid-19 numbers surged.

Its rapid deployment was done progressively, with 21 versions of the system, or one to two releases a week. This contrasts with systems that might get upgraded once or twice a year, or patched once every month or so, noted Mr Liang.

The amount of work involved was huge, requiring the IHiS team to integrate information from sensors and real-time data with IT systems, process the data and make sense of it visually.

Using artificial intelligence and data analytics, the C3 system helps healthcare workers to predict demand for hospital beds and other healthcare resources, as well as identify bottlenecks such as patients experiencing long waiting times and a crunch at laboratories performing a large number of tests.

This allowed TTSH and NCID to better control the flow of resources across both institutions, which are closely located and share the same pool of manpower.

The C3 system has over 1,500 indicators, including tracking of hospital equipment, number of bed spaces and how congested wards are, many of which are monitored in real time.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2021, with the headline 'IHiS team quickly added pandemic features in new IT system'. Subscribe