Careers in healthcare often bring to mind roles such as doctors, specialists, nurses and therapists. But within the same sector is another group of key staff who work behind the scenes to attend to a non-health concern of patients or their families — healthcare bills.

While frontline healthcare staff deal with work that can involve life and death issues, backend warriors help to lend crucial support in other areas. For instance, Madam Cynthia Lim Poh Choo, 67, is a senior finance executive at the 1 Finance Shared Services (1FSS), Accounts Receivables, where she oversees the handling of billing enquiries. 1FSS is a subsidiary of MOH Holdings and was set up in 2019 as the financial shared services centre for all public healthcare institutions in Singapore.

Prior to this, she spent 22 years in the banking industry where her last role was in credit information. She decided to enter the healthcare industry because she wanted to do something meaningful for the rest of her career. So when she was 48 years old in 2001, she made the move to join National University Hospital’s finance department.

As she used to be involved in dealing with customers in her previous job, she was able to relate to her new role in a different sector. Till today, she says that her passion for customer service keeps her motivated to help patients overcome challenging issues.

Going the extra mile

A typical work day for Mdm Lim starts with an internal team meeting to share learning points from the cases they manage. Operational duties include responding to customers’ calls and emails on billing enquiries, and trying to resolve the issues they face. 

“I’m also managing several innovation projects for the company that will help better streamline our processes,” she adds.

Sometimes, her work involves settling anxious customers. Once, she had an agitated customer who could not understand his hospital bill and the payment methods he could use. She kicked into her problem-solving mode and sat down with him to go through his bill and guide him on how he could settle his payment. She also worked with several departments in the hospital to help him with his claims. The customer was so pleased with her service that he e-mailed a compliment to commend her 
 after that.

With her great work attitude over the years, Mdm Lim has won several Service Champion awards, and an Achievement Award for Service during the SARS epidemic in 2003.

Strengthening her capabilities

Mdm Lim also has a part in managing projects that help to streamline her department’s operation process. For example, she is working on a self-help system that will enable patients to key in their requests for bills, forms and receipts by reviewing the process flow and flagging areas that are unclear.

She is appreciative of 1FSS’ efforts to nurture and upskill its staff. Since she joined the organisation, she has taken up various courses to equip herself with skills to become more effective at handling complaints and improve as a team player and supervisor.

Mdm Lim believes that having a passion for healthcare and being willing to serve others are important when considering a role in healthcare. Upholding integrity at work is crucial too, she says. In addition, one must be willing to keep learning to be able to add value to the organisation.