【conf】N.1 & WisDM of NUS delegates’ visit to UM

The National University of Singapore, no.1 university across Asia in the past 10 years, has lots of institutions on and off campus to help create innovations to meet academic, industry, and the society’s needs. In the medical and healthcare domains, there are 2 tops that are most active: The Institute for Digital Medicine (WisDM) at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and The N.1 Institute for Health (N.1).

Our team, eHealth Unit at UM, welcomed the Singaporean team on the last Mon and Tue. Half a year ago, we welcomed the SingHealth team of NUS, together discussing more clinical matters as EHR and registry data, improved treatment in primary care, and medical education. This time the themes were more technology-heavy, such as AI and digital health.

We shared lots of eye-opening, inspirational moments in lectures and discussions. With the idea we talked about there, both teams are hoping to collaborate in research, healthcare apps-making, AIs and entrepreneurship (and fund-raising for sure).

One of the biggest impressions I got is that the SG team are careful with psychological aspects of their new apps built on AIs and cutting-edge technology. It’s “analogue” that is most important. We academicians tend to focus on what we want when building new applications with cool technology that we believe are super useful to the patients. However, it’s not always true. What counts most should be the users’ and patients’ real need to use them as well as their compliance with them. I like their “customer/patient-centric” approach with psychologists in the team. (After a long while I remember I’m one, too.)

And once again, I was reminded that Singapore is the place for expats. In industry of course, but no less so in the university setting! Out of 6 members of the team who visited us, 5 of them are expats in fact. One of the 2 senior members, A/Prof Agata is a Polish who spent some years in Malaysia and ended up in Singapore for more than a decade. The other, Mr Yoann is a French, worked for years in Luxembourg, and Hong Kong or Taiwan, if I remember correctly, then moved to Singapore and also has been working for more than a decade.

Junior members are also an expat and a recent immigrant. Dr Vien, a psychologist like myself, studied in Australia and started working in Singapore. But she is actually a Malaysian with both her parents living in KL. Surprise…as she showed no Malaysian accents in her English. I thought she was an American! The other junior member, Dr Kirthika with strong AI background, is originally from India, with her parents migrating to Singapore. She went to a university in India then came back to Singapore to finish her graduate study (if I remember it correctly).

The team is so international! But nothing to be surprised after all. Prof Dean Ho, the leader of the team, is not a Singaporean. Things like this never ever happened in Japan and seldom happens in Malaysia, I reckon. He is an American medical researcher who has been at NUS for a few decades. He originally worked as a professor at UCLA. Singapore is such a country full of intelligent expats. Gotta work there for some years or so to have a first-hand experience.

See you again soon, guys! (It was yummy that I had at the dinner with the SG team and my MY team.)

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