HPB's Swab Registration System for workers in dorms expanded to cover other Covid-19 tests

Foreign workers at a swab isolation facility on June 3, 2020.
Foreign workers at a swab isolation facility on June 3, 2020.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Initially developed to help manage and schedule Covid-19 swab test appointments for workers in dormitories, an IT system by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) was eventually expanded to more types of tests.

The Swab Registration System now helps, among other things, to also allocate and record different types of Covid-19 tests like the antigen rapid test, which can produce results in 15 to 20 minutes.

This was possible as the system "was already built with the capabilities to support large-scale testing", said HPB chief executive Zee Yoong Kang.

On Thursday (March 18), HPB and other agencies, including the Ministry of Health, were recognised at the IT Leader Awards for their contributions in developing systems for planning and managing Covid-19 testing operations.

For instance, the Defence Science and Technology Agency developed a system to give an overview of the demand for swab tests and the capacity of laboratories across Singapore so that resources can be better used and the turnaround times for lab results shortened.

The Integrated Health Information Systems created a one-stop repository for Covid-19 tests that automatically collates results from different sources.

Developing HPB's swab system was not without challenges. Mr Zee said the board had to get the system up and running in a very tight time frame so that companies could register their employees for swab tests quickly and efficiently.

There were also difficulties in transferring swab registration data, for example when tracking test samples sent to labs and rescheduling swab tests for workers who missed appointments.

"This was against an ever-changing operating environment where the scale of swab operations and the number of swab tests to be done continued to grow," said Mr Zee.