On 23 March 2021, Duke-NUS’ Health Services and Systems Research (HSSR) Programme launched the Graduate Certificate Programme in Health Services Innovation in a joint initiative with SingHealth. The event was attended by about 150 clinician scientists, researchers, policy makers and educators from various organisations and institutes across Singapore, who joined via video link.

The launch commenced with a welcome address by Duke-NUS Dean Professor Thomas Coffman, who described how the graduate certificate programme had come to fruition.            

“This course has been cooking up for a while, and was created through many months of hard work, discussions and assessments by the Directors, aimed at developing an impactful course on how to design and implement clinical innovation within our health system,” he said.

Calling the stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on the healthcare system “unprecedented”, Prof Coffman emphasised a “new urgency to this mission of transformation”, highlighting the need for health services innovation, and the important role clinician innovators play in improving patients’ lives by enhancing the delivery of care.

Echoing the theme of innovation in healthcare, Professor Kenneth Kwek, Deputy Group CEO of Organisational Transformation and Informatics at SingHealth, shared the organisation’s vision for health services innovation. He anticipates the programme will have a huge impact on the innovation of healthcare systems and modelling, and is hopeful it will develop many new cohorts of innovators who can lead and evaluate change using research skills in health services.    

After introducing the Programme and its key faculty, Professor Marcus Ong, Director of HSSR, elaborated how health services research supports collaborations with SingHealth’s Health Services Research Centre (HSRC) and Health Services Research Institute (HSRI) in the capacity building of healthcare professionals, drawing on different areas of scientific expertise to improve the healthcare system.

Professor Nicholas Graves, Deputy Director of HSSR and Course Director of the Graduate Certificate Programme, spoke about the Programme in greater detail, explaining its significance and his expectations for future clinician innovators. He shared how health services research could create better outcomes at the population-level by optimising and improving on current technology, while harvesting existing data.

Prof Graves is confident that clinician researchers enrolled in this new programme will bridge the gap between research and practice, graduating with the skills and confidence needed to generate solutions that can be implemented to bring about changes in the healthcare system.

Rounding up the discussion with examples, Ms Lee Chen Ee, Group Director of Organisational Transformation at SingHealth, addressed the significance and impact of innovations in improving patients’ lives and reducing costs. She highlighted the importance of cultivating a community of innovators who are ready and able to respond to the need for future innovation.    

In his closing remarks, Prof Graves concluded by sharing his excitement for the Graduate Certificate Programme, citing strong support from the senior management team as a key enabler in its successful launch.