Hwang Chi Hong MHCDS ‘14
Director of Medical Affairs, Alexandra Hospital, Jurong Health Services, Singapore
As medical director at one of the newest hospitals in Singapore, Dr. Hwang Chi Hong has an inside view of a health system widely praised as among the most efficient in the world. Life expectancy is higher and infant mortality lower in the city-state, even though it has fewer health professionals per capita than in the U.S. and 80 percent of Singapore’s hospital care is co-funded by the government through taxes. The government’s approach has been to curb health care spending while emphasizing efficiency and effectiveness.
“The funding model is very different from the U.S. model, yet we are challenged by many of the same problems within our health care system,” says Chi. “I’ve had interesting discussions with my course mates about why we all seem to get stuck on the same issues.”
Chi’s other interests include reducing patient readmission rates and ensuring consistency of care, topics that are components of Dartmouth’s Master of Health Care Delivery Science coursework.
Chi has already employed some of the ethical analysis strategies he’s learned in the program as part of a review of patient information sharing within Alexandra Hospital. “I was able to frame an ethical question on when operational needs would supersede a patient's confidentiality when giving access to medical records,” he says. Ultimately the hospital decided that the fundamental purpose of medical records is for sharing information for patient care, and access for administrative purposes such as IT should be controlled more strictly.
Enrolling in a program that combines on-campus classes with online study has posed a few challenges for Chi, partly because Singapore’s 12-hour time difference from New Hampshire means classes sometimes begin at midnight. But he has been inspired to work around the logistics, and has found the on-campus session valuable and enjoyable.
In addition to the close access to faculty, highlights of the opening two-week residential program at Dartmouth included talking health policy around a cooler of beer after class and swimming in the Connecticut River with classmates.
“The lecturers are great, and the faculty and students think deeply about the topics,” he says. “And we really had a good time.”