Centre for Healthcare Innovation : Inculcating an Innovative Culture

Jack Salter
Jack Salter - Head of Editorial
  • Committed to transforming healthcare, the Ng Teng Fong Centre for Healthcare Innovation (CHI) was founded in 2016 on the concept of co-learning and collaboration.
  • “From the perspective of a healthcare provider, we believe in developing the innovators and leaders of tomorrow to match the demands of future healthcare,” says A/Prof Tan Cher Heng, Executive Director, CHI.

We find out more about Singapore’s largest purpose-built innovation centre with Associate Professor Tan Cher Heng, Executive Director of the Centre for Healthcare Innovation.


Committed to transforming healthcare, the Centre for Healthcare Innovation (CHI) was founded in 2016 on the concept of co-learning and collaboration. 

Driven by its three thrusts – promoting a culture of innovation through thought leadership, achieving better health and healthcare by enabling workforce transformation, and catalysing value-based outcomes by effecting systems-level change – CHI and its network of like-minded local and international partners create thought leadership as well as co-build initiatives and programmes to inculcate a culture of innovation within healthcare.  

Strengthened by this network, CHI has been able to customise and design signature programmes that aim to build a sustainable workforce via new andragogy and paradigms for communities of carers and patients.  

To catalyse value-based outcomes and effect systems-level change, CHI’s impactful platforms and initiatives drive innovation adoption and knowledge translation, consequently giving the healthcare community quicker access to the latest innovations. 

Associate Professor (A/Prof) Tan Cher Heng, Executive Director of CHI, discusses bringing innovation to life to ensure better health and social outcomes for all.

Ng Teng Fong Centre 807px


What is your current take on the healthcare industry in Singapore?

A/Prof Tan Cher Heng, Executive Director (TCH): Singapore healthcare has always been known for its high quality standards and efficient use of resources. Post-COVID-19 pandemic, we are facing manpower shortage issues more than ever before. The Singapore government plays a critical role in ensuring there are sufficient resources to support the ever-growing demands for healthcare by an ageing population with a rising burden of chronic diseases. We have thus pivoted towards population and preventive health as a long-term effort to “bend the sharply rising cost curve”. It would be exciting to see the positive transformation that this would bring about. 

How do strategic partnerships ensure better health and social outcomes for all?

TCH: From the perspective of a healthcare provider, we believe in developing the innovators and leaders of tomorrow to match the demands of future healthcare. We work with the likes of Singapore’s Nanyang Business School, as well as our international partner, Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University in Thailand, to deliver on these programmes. To increase the adoption of new innovations that could democratise care and increase access of care to the population, we are working to bring solutions into play through the CHI Start-up Enterprise Link (CHISEL) InnoMatch programme with Singapore’s healthcare clusters – Singapore Health Services, the National University Health System, and the National Healthcare Group. The CHISEL InnoMatch programme is funded by the Temasek Foundation and Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH).  

To develop communities of practice in innovation and improvement, we are setting up the CHI Learning and Development platform, an MOH-supported initiative that will bring practitioners together on a common digital platform to share best practices and lessons from their own innovation journey. Underlying these efforts are our larger transformation goals of bringing community care providers to work closely with our practitioners to effect health and social change through CHI’s Health and Social Change Academy (HSCA), which was launched in July this year.

“From the perspective of a healthcare provider, we believe in developing the innovators and leaders of tomorrow to match the demands of future healthcare”

A/Prof Tan Cher Heng, Executive Director, Centre for Healthcare Innovation
3D Printing Centre

Can you tell us more about CHI as a purpose-built innovation centre for healthcare?

TCH: CHI is an exciting nine-storey conference, training, and innovation building that aims to transform our healthcare workforce to be future-ready. The 25,000 square metre (sqm) building is Singapore’s largest purpose-built innovation centre with MICE facilities, simulation and innovation labs, and engagement spaces. These spaces support our programmes and events that provide opportunities for cross-learning that ultimately lead to workforce transformation.  

We have been working hard to build technological capabilities to support the work of our innovators, such as with the establishment of the 3D printing centre, telehealth pods, and virtual reality (VR) lab. In Innospace and the CHI Living Lab, we bring together lean and design methodologies to engineer process change for transformation. 

Can you expand upon CHI’s mission to engage like-minded institutions and agencies to co-learn and co-create new healthcare innovations and new ways of learning?

TCH: We believe that there is no monopoly to knowledge and that the best way to innovate in a sustainable manner is to “learn, share, and do”. Therefore, we place great emphasis on the relationships that we build with other stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem, ranging from academia to industry, agencies, and other healthcare providers. We seek to create a borderless network in which there will be ample cross-adoption of great solutions to accelerate the speed at which value is created, but also cross-learning of failures so that mistakes need not be unnecessarily repeated.  

Can you also tell us more about CHI’s purpose of spearheading change towards sustainable, value-based systems?

TCH: To deliver value and outcomes at scale and in a sustainable manner, CHI takes on a systems approach with the Innovation Cycle, an iterative framework of “Plan-Do-Study-Act”. The three stages of the cycle are: 

  • Redesign care/process to optimise value for patients and reduce waste. 
  • Introduce automation, IT, and robotics for simple, repetitive, but necessary jobs to free up manpower. 
  • Review and redesign current roles through job upskilling, substitution, and job value expansion to anchor higher value-added capabilities.

How does CHI groom the next generation of healthcare professionals through interactive learning, teaching, and offering research opportunities?

TCH: As alluded to above, we have programmes that seek to transform our workforce to meet the health system of tomorrow. These are exemplified by: 

CHI Fellowship in Healthcare Innovation and Leadership 

Designed around the three stages of the CHI Innovation Cycle, the programme is practice-based and combines professional development, coaching, peer and experiential learning, and immersions into other healthcare systems in Singapore and beyond.  

CHI Healthcare Advanced Management Programme (CHAMP) 

The environment confronting business leaders of today continues to be volatile. To be successful, leaders need to consider new ways of making decisions and motivating people. CHAMP will engage, enable, and empower healthcare leaders through collective leadership and learning, that will equip them with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to transform healthcare. The programme is in partnership with the Nanyang Business School.   

Ng Teng Fong Healthcare and Innovation Programme 

This funding programme takes a broad perspective and multi-level approach to drive innovation in healthcare to benefit and enhance the health of our patients and the population we serve. It funds and supports healthcare innovation in collaboration with its partners through five tracks – Strategic Training, Innovation, Community Enabling, Strategic Innovation, and Strategic Research.  

Research Talent Development 

The Research Talent Development capability within CHI includes facilitation of sharing research ideas, guidance, support, and forming connections between our investigators and experts of relevant research domains. Individualised mentoring and continued training are an integral part of talent development, through which the career aspirations of contemporary researchers are realised across all levels. 

There are currently two programmes that work toward this strategic mission and take control of the entire research talent lifecycle at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH):  

  • Fostering Research through Active Mentoring and Engagement (FRAME) Programme – A holistic institutional mentoring programme, specifically designed for mid-career researchers, who have established a publication record and won at least one intramural research grant as principal investigator.
  • Support to Aspiring Research Talent (START) Programme – Aims to provide exposure to research through training and project experience.

VR Training Series 

VR training allows for more immersive and engaging learning experiences, which can lead to better memory recall and retention. The first scenario to kick off the training series was a lifelike VR simulation of the blood-taking room at a Specialist Outpatient Clinic (SOC). There are also plans to extend VR to learners beyond the community to benefit residents and partners, bringing care delivery beyond the hospital.  

What about Singapore’s first HSCA, which was recently launched by CHI?

TCH: The first of its kind, CHI HSCA equips participants with essential skills, knowledge, and tools to be activators, collaborators, and agents of transformation for happier and healthier communities. The academy, which was developed in response to strengthening population health and the goals of Healthier SG, a national initiative by the MOH focusing on preventative health, aims to strengthen the ability to care for residents in the community beyond patients in hospitals. The curriculum is designed around the premise that to have happier and healthier communities would require collective commitment and effort. As such, CHI HSCA aims to nurture the environment for various stakeholders to come together to understand one another’s roles in the community, learn the new skills and concepts, and take collective action to design care that will keep our people and future generations healthier and happier.  

Finally, can you tell us about the development of the CHI Evaluation Framework?

TCH: As the innovation ecosystem matures, we are fast seeing the proliferation of many new solutions entering the healthcare space. In order to harness the potential of such solutions, we have developed the CHI Evaluation Framework to holistically assess the value of innovations.  

This enables solutions providers, often start-ups, to better understand how to iterate upon their products. More importantly, it informs the end-users, typically the healthcare providers, on whether the solutions are worth implementing. The evaluation metrics that we advocate comprise clinical safety and efficacy, usability, and cost-effectiveness. It also ensures that the chosen solutions will be able to integrate effectively into the clinical workflows. Ultimately, this will help us catalyse the adoption and implementation of solutions to achieve value-based outcomes.

Launch of HCSA with Minister for Health, Ong Ye Kung
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By Jack Salter Head of Editorial
Jack Salter is an in-house writer for Healthcare Outlook Magazine, where he is responsible for interviewing corporate executives and crafting original features for the magazine, corporate brochures, and the digital platform.