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National Healthcare Group’s Matthew Chua on championing AI adoption, innovation across healthcare sector following recent appointment

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Azunta Gaviola

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2 weeks ago

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Singapore – National Healthcare Group (NHG), the public healthcare institutional group in Singapore, has recently appointed Matthew Chua as its new Deputy Director of the Digital and Smart Health Office, Centre of Healthcare Innovation. This strategic appointment enables Matthew to lead and drive the digital and AI transformation within the NHG cluster alongside his team.

In a recent exclusive interview with UpTech Media, Chua outlined his responsibilities for this role, highlighting his close collaboration with the stakeholders within NHG to embark on a transformation journey. This role also includes looking surgically into current processes, bottlenecks, and issues and finding cost-effective and quick ways to address these issues. 

Speaking from a healthcare perspective, he emphasised the importance of this role in the current landscape. More importantly, he notes, “This comes also at a crucial point whereby our healthcare system is being tested due to a greying population and a shortage of healthcare workers, hence, there is a need for AI to be that force multiplier and game-changer to augment our health systems.”

Apart from his extensive background in artificial intelligence solutions and systems thinking, Chua is committed to supporting the organisation in fostering the growth and fulfilment of his staff, ensuring they find purpose and satisfaction in their job and career.

The healthcare sector and its widespread adoption of artificial intelligence

As the adoption of artificial intelligence persists beyond various sectors, Chua explained that these obstacles, particularly in the healthcare sector, also offer opportunities for innovation and creative ideas. 

He further remarks, “All these obstacles are also opportunities for the team to come up with innovative and creative ideas to change the way we do things, or even break down structural impediments or form new digital cultures within the organisation.”

With this, he pointed out three vital elements that businesses and organisations may do to foster the spirit of AI adoption. 

First, Chua believes that the system must persuade various departments and units of the importance of innovation in day-to-day work, acknowledging AI as a key to enhancing their jobs rather than replacing them.

Second, he also said that there is a need to navigate through the many red tapes imposed for cybersecurity and personal data protection. 

And lastly, organisations should, more importantly, focus on the deployment, proliferation, and sustainability of these AI products in the ecosystem. 

Meanwhile, recognising tech adoption as a complex business, Chua adds, “We need to do our due diligence to ensure that the said tech undergoes stringent proof-of-concept (POC) and proof-of-value (POV) before it becomes a potential candidate.”

“There is a need to maintain oversight of the tech within the organisation in order to avoid wasting unnecessary resources on new tech that can potentially be performed by (modifying/contextualising) existing one(s) or even just be addressed by a simple process change,” he elaborated. 

When asked about enhancing service value and patient experience through AI, he further shared that among the strategies to employ are adaptive and personalised UX. This strategy, according to Chua, is valuable as it provides a user-specific and unique experience for each customer using it. 

“Using AI and data analytics, we can also provide predictive and prescriptive capabilities and services that would be valuable to users,” he said.

Additionally, Chua cited user convenience and accessibility as essential to these capabilities, as they are among the hygiene factors when designing and developing digital solutions for patients and users.

Adapting to the contemporary shifts in digital and AI transformation 

Probing further into the organisation’s digital and AI transformation efforts, Chua cited and elaborated on the contemporary trends that would bring advantages to their adoption in the coming years. 

In particular, he indicated Explainable AI (XAI) for Trustworthy Diagnostics and Treatment as one of these benefits. This specific trend fosters trust across the healthcare sector simply by allowing doctors to understand the reasoning behind AI-powered recommendations for diagnoses and treatment plans. 

According to him, this can be achieved by integrating XAI tools for radiology, pathology, and other diagnostic areas. 

“This transparency builds trust with both medical staff and patients,” said Chua. 

Lastly, he also noted a simple but effective trend like AI-driven virtual assistants and chatbots for enhanced patient engagement. 

The said innovation enhances patient experience and reduces burdens on staff by specifically answering basic questions, scheduling appointments, and providing post-surgical care guidance. 

With these technological advancements at hand, Chua believes that advancing healthcare systems extends beyond recognising AI; rather, the system needs to understand its importance as a force multiplier and transformative factor in the healthcare industry. 

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