The staff of MOH Holdings’ Group Internal Audit have to convince their colleagues to adopt more efficient ways to work

IF YOU are not fond of attending wedding dinners because you have to interact with other guests, many of whom you do not know, a career in auditing may not be suitable for you.

Auditing — especially internal auditing — requires at least as much positive interaction with others as time spent poring over data. So say Mr Thng Chiok Meng and Mr Rick Teng, both of whom work in the Group Internal Audit (GIA) division of MOH Holdings (MOHH), the holding company of Singapore’s public healthcare clusters.

You probably will not see or notice GIA staff like them when you visit a public hospital or clinic — they are hard at work behind the frontlines improving the healthcare system, so your consultation and treatment are completed as quickly and effectively as possible and with the least amount of stress.

Power of persuasion

Mr Thng, who is in his early 50s, is the division’s IT Audit Team Lead overseeing a group of auditors who work with public healthcare institutions to review their IT systems. He says: “IT automation has resulted in improvement in patient treatment as computer systems provide doctors and nurses with up-to-date patient information. Preserving accuracy of data is very important. It is key for IT auditors to validate that the data processed from one system to another are accurate.

“Auditors have to ensure proper tracking of changes and viewing of patient data so that the most accurate data is used for medical treatments without compromising confidentiality.”

He adds that an auditor must have not only a keen interest to see improvements being made, he must also have high emotional intelligence and be persuasive, because he has to convince his colleagues to change the way they work – or think.

“Sometimes, we highlight things that are preventive in nature. It’s like telling people not to smoke. They may tell you to mind your own business as they are not ill yet,” says Mr Thng, a deputy director who has been in the division for more than seven years.

“Occasionally, we have to win over staff at public healthcare institutions who might feel that auditors cannot help them improve their operations. It takes time and patience, but eventually I manage to convince them.”

He is good at what he does as he enjoys social interaction. “I like attending wedding dinners,” he says with a laugh.

Mr Teng, the Division’s Team Lead managing the SingHealth Cluster, adds: “The challenges are usually not work-related but people-related. We all need to regularly challenge ourselves to break out of our comfort zone, embrace new ways of working and have positive mindsets.

"Sometimes we have to win over staff at public healthcare institutions who might feel that auditors cannot help them improve their operations. It takes time and patience, but eventually I manage to convince them.

MR THNG CHIOK MENG
deputy director
Group Internal Audit (GIA)
division
MOH Holdings

Power of data

The good news for someone in Mr Teng’s position is that an internal auditor’s job is more interesting now, compared to 10 years ago — he has access to a lot more data to perform data analytics, data profiling and data visualisation. All of these provides more insight and helps him make a stronger case for change.

He points out: “In the past, an auditor might extract just 30 samples.”

These days, “100 percent of the data can be extracted from the systems and data warehouses to identify outliers — this provides management with increased insights of their operations and risk areas, as well as facilitate decision-making”, says Mr Teng, an assistant director who is spearheading the GIA Data Analytics Team and has been at MOH Holdings for a year.

“For example, we embed data analytics in our group-wide theme projects, enabling us to identify key risk areas that relate to ensuring constant availability of drugs and supplies to run hospital operations at a competitive cost.”

“I’m always looking for better ways to do things — such as reduce inefficiencies and healthcare
cost — through the use of data.

“People don’t change, but with data they are more easily persuaded.”

Power of passion

“My work gives me an opportunity to help patients, whether directly or indirectly. This thought gives me an extra purpose in life,” says Mr Thng.

As an auditor, he has a bird’s eye view of the entire operations — “all the intrinsic connections of different components in an organisation”.

He says: “We review the processes, provide feedback, and help an organisation improve its patient experiences. Most of my friends and family members can see I have a passion for IT audit and I enjoy what I am doing.”

Likewise, Mr Teng is so passionate about his job in the healthcare industry that he pays extra attention when he visits a hospital or clinic as a patient. He asks himself: “Am I enjoying the patient experience?”

The processes he and his GIA colleagues have had a hand in improving may go unnoticed by many Singaporeans, though. That’s because no one complains much when things are smooth sailing.

Only once or twice have people groused about the local healthcare system to Mr Thng when they find out what he does for a living.

He says: “I think Singaporeans are generally quite happy with healthcare in public hospitals.”

Power of team spirit

Even as the Group Internal Audit division seeks to improve operational efficiency in the healthcare system, it also strives to bolster the morale of its staff.

Ms Carrie Tan, a manager in her mid-30s, who has been working in MOHH GIA’s Financial & Operations Audit for more than seven years, says: “We have an internal social committee, GIA Social Connectz, to organise activities for the team, buy presents for colleagues celebrating their birthdays, and arrange volunteer and team-bonding activities.”

It is no surprise, she adds, that “the group has a strong team spirit. We have two-way open communication — this promotes trust in day-to-day interactions between co-workers, as well as between staff and supervisors”.

She remarks: “I feel fortunate that I am working with a closeknit group of colleagues who are all genuinely helpful and respectful towards one another.”

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