When he witnessed the
beauty of coral reefs
during one of his
diving trips many
years ago, Dr Chow Mun Hong,
had an epiphany that continues to
shape his outlook today.
“The corals are our heritage
and legacy. Likewise, we should
appreciate what we have
inherited, and must be mindful to
leave things in a better state for
future generations,” said Dr Chow,
Senior Consultant and Director,
Quality Management Department,
SingHealth Polyclinics (SHP).
This philosophy remains his
guiding principle to support
healthcare professionals in carrying
out their work more effectively and
efficiently — all in the interest of
better and safer patient care.
“We have highly educated,
dedicated professionals striving
to provide good care. We must
design and improve the systems
that enable our people to do
good work. Our patients trust
us and we honour that trust by
working relentlessly to improve,”
said Dr Chow.
Dr Chow and his team from
the SHP Quality Management
Department play a critical role
in ensuring that the enduring
commitment to quality is
supported organisationally and
remains integral to the core
mission of SHP. They work with
partners to develop systems,
improve processes, and train
other healthcare workers so that
continual improvement is imbibed
in the SHP culture.
For his relentless efforts at SHP
and beyond, he was presented
the National Outstanding Clinical
Quality Champion Award
last year, a prestigious
recognition of the efforts of
outstanding clinicians, clinician
scientists and other healthcare
professionals in advancing
healthcare, improving the
standards of patient safety, and
driving research and education.
But Dr Chow is reluctant to take all the credit. “I may have
started some conversations and
implemented some initiatives,
but the contributions came from
so many people. No single person
could have done it alone,” he said.
How it all started
Taking patient care to a higher
level was a core commitment
from SHP’s early years. Dr Chow
founded the Quality Management
Department in 2006 to bring
together existing initiatives and
to develop a framework that can
enable the whole organisation
to maintain high standards and
“That way, quality becomes an
organisational capability rather
than just an individual commitment
or effort,” Dr Chow said.
It was a learning experience
for him, too. “I knew much less
15 years ago. We learnt along the
way, through the efforts of many
different people,” he added.
His fellowship with Kaiser
Permanente, a leading
integrated healthcare system
in the United States, allowed
him to view care delivery from
a systems perspective. He saw
the potential of certain concepts
from the Chronic Care Model and
Population Care Management,
and went on to redesign the care
delivery system at SHP.
Making a difference
One of Dr Chow’s biggest
contributions is an integrated
Quality framework that includes
Clinical Governance, Quality
Assurance, Patient Safety, Patient
Experience, Enterprise Risk
Management, Improvement, and
Culture and Capacity Building.
“These programmes often
have overlapping features,
and by bringing them together,
we minimise duplication,
and leverage their respective
strengths,” said Dr Chow.
He also spearheaded the
Quality and Safety training
framework so that everyone
in the SHP family is aligned
with the organisational values
and expectations, such as
“The goal is to prepare
healthcare workers to work
effectively in teams and be
equipped with the right skills.
Together, we can learn and
improve with colleagues from
different disciplines,” said Dr Chow.
Dr Chow’s work in redesigning
the care delivery system
also resulted in reducing the
physician’s work load.
A chance sighting of a
coin-operated machine that
measured one’s Body Mass Index
(BMI) got ideas flowing.
“Instead of having doctors
perform tasks such as measuring
patients’ blood pressure (BP), we
modified the BMI machine and
added an electronic BP device to
set up a health monitoring station
so that patients can take the
measurements with the help of
Patient Service Associates before
their consultations,” said Dr Chow.
The system was also enhanced to
enable a risk score and treatment
target for each patient to be
calculated, which guides clinical
decisions during consultations.
Dr Chow has also been steering
patient care toward a proactive —
instead of reactive — approach. For
example, new information systems
now enable doctors to generate
patient registries to proactively
monitor patients’ conditions and
identify those who may need
additional follow-ups. The SHP
team is also developing other ways
to engage patients, such as through
video and teleconsultations to help
patients stay well and active with
Today, thanks to Dr Chow’s
efforts, multidisciplinary teams are
focused on continual improvement
through system redesign so that
ultimately, patients benefit from
more accessible and timely care.
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