Digital transformation is expected to change the way people do their jobs, including those working in the healthcare industry.
Within the next three to five years, medical records in Singapore is expected to be fully digitised. As consequence, 600 public healthcare workers who deal with this paperwork could find that their jobs have become obsolete. In the local public healthcare workforce, 4,000 patient service associates who handle patient registration and payments could find their roles being replaced by self-registration machines and payment kiosks. In other words, these workers are at risk of losing jobs to new automation technology.
As an effort to prevent these workers from finding themselves displaced by disruptive technology, NTUC and the Healthcare Services Employees’ Union (HSEU) are setting up a Healthcare Academy. Aiming to help medical workers adapt and remain employable in the changing industry, this is claimed to be the largest training initiative to be launched in Singapore’s healthcare sector.
Speaking to the media at the launch of the academy on Monday (Aug 27), NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng stated that it will look at training workers to take on new roles that are being created in the growing healthcare sector, which the Health Ministry has said will need 9,000 more workers by 2020.
“It will provide useful training for our workers. In each profession they can add value to the patient… which increases their productivity, so that the hospital can reward them better with longer careers, expanded career paths and better wages, welfare and work prospects,” he said.
The courses will be held at the NTUC LearningHub at NTUC Trade Union House in Bras Basah. For a start, there are three courses offered by the academy, including two courses on mindset change and one on how to embrace and adapt to a digital workplace, Straits Times reports.
Mr Ng said that over the next six months, NTUC and the HSEU will work with hospitals and their employees to understand their potential challenges, refine the curriculum and launch more courses.
According to Labour unionist K. Thanaletchimi, mindset change and digital literacy are chosen to be the first focus set of courses because about one-third of the medical record officers and patient service assistants who will be affected by technological disruption are middle-aged and older.
She said, “We need to have such programmes for them so they can proceed without fear. There is a fear among some workers that technology will take away their jobs, or that they won’t know how to use new technology. But this is a work in progress and there will be a second and third phase where we will roll out courses on deep skills such as therapy assistance.”
The courses will also be geared towards training workers for roles such as community nursing and case management, as the need for such skills is increasing with the growing demand for healthcare services in Singapore. Course contents will also be constantly tweaked to ensure they remain relevant with the times, she added.
The launch of the academy was held at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, which has been training its workers to take on expanded job scopes for the past several years.