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Harnessing big data and analytics for better healthcare

11 July 2013

Minister Gan delivering the opening address at the inaugural conference
With the ever-increasing amount of healthcare data, how do practitioners approach data analytics in the areas of genomics, governance, nursing and clinical care? These were the questions addressed during the inaugural International Conference on Big Data and Analytics in Healthcare hosted by the Centre for Health Informatics (CHI) at the NUS School of Computing from 9 to 10 July 2013.

“Healthcare analytics is one important area to develop,” said Singapore Minister for Health Mr Gan Kim Yong in his opening address to the more than 300-strong audience. “We already have extensive clinical, health financing and patient-care administrative data from our IT systems. Combining these data with lifestyle, geospatial, behavioural and genotype data will provide us with better insights into the health risks of our population and discover new co-relationships between data sets.”

Minister Gan noted that the insights could be used by patients and care providers to further improve care delivery, guide policy development and enhance patient well-being. The ministry also sought to systematically align the whole spectrum of service providers through implementing the National Electronic Health Record (NEHR) system in all public hospitals, specialist centres, polyclinics as well as some community hospitals, nursing homes and clinics of general practitioners.

Professionals are needed to interpret the data generated and collected, noted Associate Professor Danny Poo, Director of the CHI. He shared how the Centre aims to train healthcare and IT professionals in the use of health informatics, conduct research as well as offer hands-on experience to students via internships. In fact, the first batch of interns has embarked on their training programme at institutions such as the National Cancer Centre Singapore and the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

The conference was made possible with the support of Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research.