Thomas Chan: Medical Digitalization is the Next Big Thing
Buildings Director at WSP in Asia
What’s the favourite part of your working in healthcare?
Being able to deliver a project to our clients that provides them with a high quality and efficient hospital to support excellent patient care and optimal recovery. I also enjoy working with my dedicated team on a wide range of projects including for private and public sector healthcare providers, and that span across the Asia region, from Shanghai to Hong Kong, Singapore to Seoul. We have more than 300 staff with healthcare project experience and approximately 50 specialists with healthcare systems experience.
What are the main trends challenging healthcare in China?
Some major trends in the health market include:
- The need to modernize existing hospitals
- Evaluation and development of hospital services
- Social enterprise investment
- Development of integrated medicine and convalescence
- Internet health
- Chinese medicine industry development
- Setup and development of the rehabilitation industry
What is the most memorable healthcare project you have worked on?
Renowned for our contamination control systems, the Hospital Authority commissioned us to design a special SARS ward for their major hospitals after the SARS outbreak. I found the project very interesting and we succeeded in providing hospitals with a key solution to manage outbreaks.
What do you think is the next big thing in healthcare and how can engineering help this?
I believe medical digitalization is the next big thing, with increased demand and reliability on system and data integration. These systems would be readily connected for patients use so they can follow their treatment and have more control over their comfort; for example, patients could regulate the temperature in their room. The model of care will change, particularly diagnostics, and this will therefore affect healthcare building design.
What do you think about the effect of technology on healthcare?
The effect of technology on healthcare will be very significant due to the acceleration of medical digitalization, which has big potential on cost savings and more importantly on its speedy diagnostic process for earlier disease detection and even prevention. With an ageing population, many countries are facing the pressure of increased healthcare spending, and I believe a large part of the cost is actually caused by inefficiencies and inappropriate treatment. The attitude of consumers towards digital medical care is far more open than in previous years, including telemedicine, medical mobile applications and the use of digital models to predict medical results from the analysis. Blood pressure, heart rate and other indicators, could be automatically registered onto wearable technology and create alerts if they are abnormal.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I do volunteering work and further studies on topics I’m interested in, like Chinese history and language.
If you worked in a hospital, what role would you choose to do?
Facility manager, providing services in electrical and mechanical engineering, structural engineering and architecture.
With more than 34 years of experience in the field of power and building services engineering under his belt, Thomas received his education in Hong Kong and the UK. A registered Professional Engineer (Electrical and Building Services) and Fellow of IHEEM, CIBSE, IET, and HKIE, he currently serves as Senior Vice President of the HKIE and Committee member of the IHEEM Hong Kong Branch. From July 2017 to June 2018, he will act as the president of the HKIE.
From the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park Phase 1 to the Hong Kong Design Institute, Tseung Kwan O Hospital Ambulatory Care Block to Lo Wu Correctional Institutional Complex, Thomas has been acting as Project Director for various green building and intelligent building award projects in Hong Kong. He is currently the Project Director for the Redevelopment of Kwong Wah Hospital, Redevelopment of Tsuen Wan Adventist Hospital and Gleneagles Hong Kong Hospital at Wong Chuk Hang.