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Singapore’s Fullerton Health gears up for the cloud

Private healthcare service provider Fullerton Health is moving business applications to Microsoft’s cloud services before rolling out data analytics and artificial intelligence to enhance operations and patient care

Singapore-based Fullerton Health plans to move all its business applications to Microsoft’s cloud services, making it the first private healthcare service provider in the city-state to do so on the public cloud.

The company, which runs a network of healthcare providers across Asia, said it will use the cloud for approved processes and applications in Singapore under existing regulatory guidelines over the next three months, followed by other markets within 18 to 24 months.

Besides running “designated line-of-business applications” on Microsoft Azure, Fullerton Health will also transform existing applications – such as primary care, claims management and customer relationship management – for the cloud platform, as part of its deal with Microsoft.

Following its move to the public cloud, Fullerton Health will then introduce technologies such data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve existing operations, and better engage doctors, clients and patients.

For instance, by analysing the healthcare claims it has processed in the past, it will be able to make data-driven recommendations for more effective treatments. It will also be able to process claims more quickly and accurately, with the ability to spot errors more efficiently.

“Various trends like demographic changes, pervasiveness of connected devices, rise of chronic diseases and demand for better care are requiring healthcare companies to innovate and rethink the way they deliver care to patients,” said Samuel Chong, group CTO at Fullerton Health.

“With the rise of emerging technologies such as cloud, big data, blockchain and AI, we see tremendous potential in tapping technology in ways that were more challenging previously. Our partnership with Microsoft will allow us to digitise our operations and deliver better quality care in an affordable, accessible and sustainable manner,” he added.

“Our partnership with Microsoft will allow us to digitise our operations and deliver better quality care in an affordable, accessible and sustainable manner”
Samuel Chong, Fullerton Health

With healthcare sectors elsewhere coming under the spotlight for their susceptibility to data breaches and ransomware attacks, cyber security and data protection has become a pressing concern among healthcare service providers.

Chong, however, is confident that Microsoft’s compliance with regulatory requirements, including Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, and cloud security standards, such as Singapore’s Multi-Tier Cloud Security, will enable Fullerton Health to adopt best practices in its move to the cloud.

Fullerton Health’s cloud foray follows similar efforts undertaken by Singapore’s public health sector, which has been using a private cloud service called the H-Cloud since 2015.

Developed by Integrated Health Information Systems, an IT service provider for Singapore’s public healthcare network, H-Cloud has raised infrastructure and application availability from 99.5% to 99.99%, quadrupled levels of server utilisation, and reduced compute provisioning time from weeks to days.

To date, more than 500 applications used by some 50,000 healthcare workers at three regional healthcare clusters are housed on H-Cloud. An earlier independent assessment by PricewaterhouseCoopers suggested that the private cloud service delivered across two datacentres would slash operating costs by an average of 55% by 2025.

Joanne Yap, group chief operating officer at the National University Health Services Group, said deploying IT systems for the three-year-old Ng Teng Fong General Hospital on H-Cloud had alleviated the need to acquire hardware, software and professional services separately, bringing economies of scale.

Read more about healthcare IT in Asia-Pacific

  • The opportunities for technology to improve healthcare services were explored at HIMSS AsiaPac17 in Singapore, but experts warned that challenges must be addressed before innovation can truly transform the sector.
  • Hospitals across APAC are on the frontier in healthcare IT – from a patient-centred healthcare programme in Taiwan to combining the use of smartphones and portable imaging devices to capture eye images of diabetic patients in India.
  • Singapore’s pragmatic approach in harnessing technology in areas including healthcare has always stood out for its laser focus on execution and outcomes.
  • The next five to 10 years will see massive disruptions in the healthcare space, with artificial intelligence playing an increasing role in diagnosis and treatment by 2030, a report predicts.

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