Creating a seamless care experience for Singapore's ageing population

Published on
August 3, 2021
A healthcare professional conversing with an elderly couple


  • In 2019, PebbleRoad helped to deliver a proof of concept for an integrated care platform.
  • This led our client, the MOH Office of Healthcare Transformation (MOHT), to build digital solutions under the iConnect programme.
  • When COVID-19 struck in 2020, MOHT was able to swiftly develop workflow automation tools, using iConnect as a platform, to track large volumes of swab tests.

The Challenge

Singapore’s rapidly ageing population is putting immense pressure on its healthcare system. To mitigate this, the healthcare sector is transforming its approach from illness to wellness, from cure to prevention.

Singapore’s MOH Office for Healthcare Transformation (MOHT) is partnering with providers to develop the Integrated General Hospital (IGH), with iConnect contributing by improving transitional care from hospital to primary/community care. This is a patient-centric care model that aims to:

  • Minimise hospital stays.
  • Simplify care journey for patients, caregivers and healthcare workers.
  • Empower patients to take charge of their health with personalised services.
  • Encourage collaboration between all parties.
  • Focus on prevention rather than healing.

MOHT approached PebbleRoad to design and build a digital product together with its tech partner, Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS). This product would bring the whole care ecosystem together so as to address patients’ needs more holistically.

The insights gathered from the ... pilot showed us that iConnect had the potential to uncover new opportunities yet to be imagined.

The Approach

Our team of a Product Owner and UX Researcher joined the MOHT-IHiS team. We call this the co-sourcing model. This working model also allowed us to identify the critical need for a product management process to hold the process together.

The team embarked on five sprints of two weeks each using a lean startup methodology as a base. We joined the team after the first sprint of two weeks. The first three sprints worked on problem-solution fit, while the last two sprints worked on product-market fit.

Sprint #1 focused on gaining user perspectives through interviews with staff from Alexandra Hospital (AH) and Active Global (AG), a community care provider - the two institutions that would pilot iConnect.

Some key insights included:

  • Patients repeating themselves whenever they encountered a new touchpoint.
  • Lack of a shared care plan resulting in a disjointed experience.
  • Difficulty in obtaining information, e.g. costs for rehabilitative care.

Sprint #2 focused on validating iConnect’s value proposition for the AH-AG pilot primarily through a co-ideation workshop with stakeholders.

The final value proposition was that iConnect would organise a community of practitioners and carers around whole-of-person needs through:

  • A shared care plan.
  • An online service marketplace with transparent pricing.
  • A transaction engine automating bookings, referrals and reminders.
  • The ability to collect data for analytics and adaptive learning.

In Sprint #3, we prototyped solutions based on learnings from Sprint #2. This included creating an ecosystem view of where iConnect would fit and mapping user experience flow. Bringing the lens of ecosystem mapping and lean-thinking to the mix surfaced matters of scale and sustainability along with product design.

By Sprint #4, we were ready to prove if the envisioned product created value and was technically sound. This meant testing a proof-of-concept (POC) and validating the user experience flow with key users through a rich, interactive, shallow UI mock-up with sample data.

An interactive mock up of a patient’s shared care plan with sample data
Interactive mock-up of the Service Marketplace on iConnect that allows patients and carers to browse, compare and choose services from.

The testers who were eager to try the POC rated it as user friendly. However, they expressed cautious optimism as it wasn’t a “live” product and felt there could be more patient information to cater to medical social workers’ needs.

The importance of change management and training became apparent when some expressed uncertainty with the new responsibilities that would arise when iConnect becomes reality.

The conclusion was that users wanted to see the system built but needed a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to run a pilot and test the concept, before their final verdict.

This led to Sprint #5 which finalised the MVP roadmap, outlining three pilots (with more partners added for each pilot) to validate different aspects of iConnect. The third pilot, which would test iConnect’s ability to scale, would then lead to a Minimum Sellable Product (MSP) that could be deployed and adopted further.

The Outcome

Six months after the POC was developed, the MVP was completed by IHiS and piloted at AH and AG as a live system. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020, MOHT and IHiS were able to leverage the learnings of the pilot MVP digital solution to build a workflow automation tool to help 20 polyclinics in managing the registration, results management and patient notification for COVID-19 testing.

One point to note: During the prototyping stage, a physiotherapist shared that iConnect would enable him to commence the referral process earlier by referring inpatients and outpatients directly to community care providers without the middleman to review the application. The insights gathered from the AH-AG pilot showed us that iConnect had the potential to uncover new opportunities yet to be imagined.

This led to a plan to identify new, adjunct business cases and to expand iConnect into a platform for longitudinal care management and outcome tracking.

PebbleRoad has continued to work with MOHT and IHiS on subsequent phases of iConnect’s development to develop further applications towards a nationwide integrated care platform.

Maish Nichani, co-founder, PebbleRoad
Maish Nichani

I enjoy helping organisations achieve their potential in an ever-changing and complex world. I lead product and transformation conversations.

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