Shaping health: Synapxe’s AWS-backed lab launch

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Public healthcare institutions are always facing challenges in innovation, mainly due to limited funding and a lack of conducive environments for exploring technological advancements.

This is precisely what the HealthX Co-Innovation Lab intends to tackle. A collaboration between Singapore’s national healthtech agency Synapxe and AWS, the lab leverages the expertise and partner networks of both organisations. It also seeks to push public healthcare institutions to develop and actualise novel healthcare ideas.

To discuss more about the partnership, Glenn Neo, Director of Innovation Capabilities Enablement, Synapxe, sat down with Frontier Enterprise.

New face

Synapxe, formerly known as Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS), rebranded to reflect its commitment to future health innovations, Neo shared.

“We sit at the fundamental intersection of health and technology, connecting people and systems to power a healthier Singapore. The intentional spelling of “Synapxe” with an “x” represents the multiplier effect, and signifies how we accelerate the next generation of health innovations that lead to a significant leap forward with exponential outcomes,” he said.

Glenn Neo, Director of Innovation Capabilities Enablement, Synapxe. Image courtesy of Synapxe.

Originally established for integrated IT implementation in Singapore’s public healthcare systems, Synapxe has been the architect, developer, and implementer of IT solutions supporting public healthcare institutions for the past 15 years.

These institutions include acute hospitals, specialty centres, and polyclinics, as well as partners from the government agencies, community hospitals, nursing homes, general practitioners, laboratories, and voluntary welfare organisations.

With the expectation that one in four Singaporeans will be aged 65 or above by 2030, the agency now focuses on personalised care, prevention, and community services to meet the healthcare needs of the ageing population.

Synapxe plays a pivotal role in supporting the Ministry of Health in implementing national healthcare policies and outcomes. These responsibilities encompass overseeing the public healthcare IT master plan and architecture, fostering technology innovation, and developing healthtech professionals, Neo said.

Synapxe is also said to act as an ecosystem enabler, digitally linking public healthcare institutions, general practitioners, intermediate and long-term care services operators, community partners, and individuals towards a healthier Singapore.

According to Neo, Synapxe is the strategic partner for supporting the technology needs of public healthcare institutions, and develops healthtech products and solutions aligned with the objectives of the MOH and public healthcare.

Space for change

According to Neo, the HealthX Innovation Sandbox aims to empower public healthcare entities and industry technology organisations. Its purpose is to enable experimentation, assessment, and demonstration of innovation projects in a secure, simulated production environment. This environment is hosted on the Healthcare Commercial Cloud (HCC) built on AWS.

Synapxe’s healthtech innovation capabilities are bolstered through this partnership in several ways:

  • Innovation workshop: AWS facilitates ideation workshops using Amazon’s ‘working backwards’ method. This approach seeks to aid public healthcare stakeholders in innovating and developing solutions for their challenges.
  • Solutions development: Synapxe and AWS collaborate to offer healthtech expertise and technical resources. This support aims to help innovators and solution providers turn their ideas into practical solutions.
  • Partner’s network: Using AWS’s partner network is said to enhance capabilities to support innovation projects.

“The HealthX Innovation Sandbox is accessible to all public healthcare institutions and industry organisations seeking to conduct early-stage experiments cost-effectively. It seeks to do this by using the HCC and its suite of services,” Neo explained. “Additionally, participants will have access to AWS’s services supported by HCC, helping them to evolve their ideas from concepts to prototypes.”

Expecting that conceptual ideas and prototypes will need pivots and fine-tuning before reaching a stage of readiness, the sandbox aims to facilitate that journey of experiment, feedback, and recovery.

Neo added that participants get preview access to Amazon Bedrock, a managed service providing foundational models from Amazon and AI start-ups available through an application programming interface.

The lab also includes a “call for innovation” initiative, inviting healthcare industry stakeholders to propose solutions to challenge statements. In September 2023, the HealthX Startup Day saw Synapxe and AWS receiving 59 proposals from 50 start-ups. These proposals focused on enhancing the productivity of healthcare providers and population health.

Meanwhile, Synapxe’s outcome-based spiral contracting framework accelerates the speed to market for innovations. It supports expedient deployment while balancing governance and transparency.

“This framework awards spiral contracts to industry partners based on achieved outcomes. It allows successful pilots to scale efficiently, bringing benefits to the public healthcare sector in a timely, cost-effective, and transparent manner that does not undermine market competition,” Neo said.

A brighter future for public healthcare

Following the launch of the innovation lab, coupled with Synapxe’s efforts to boost cybersecurity in healthcare, the agency is currently working on a project with medtech startup SoundEye. This collaboration involves a proof of concept for a portable fall monitoring device, based on SoundEye’s existing LASSO technology, with Singapore Christian Home.

This is in line with Synapxe’s push in improving healthcare services delivery, particularly for Singapore’s elderly population.

“Originally, LASSO was a wall or ceiling-mounted device designed for comprehensive fall detection in nursing home wards. The new proof of concept, however, shifts the focus to a portable format for beds and wheelchairs. It aims to monitor falls from beds and within as well as outside the ward,” Neo concluded.