G1 – Team 12 – Ministry of Health

Hi guys, we are team 12 consisting of Dawn, Keith and Kimberly. Our presentation was analysing the efforts of the Ministry of Health on the topic of Ischaemic Heart Disease.

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Background

The Ministry of Health is the official health organisation led by the government managing the public health system in Singapore. Their tasks include providing public information on common diseases and health issues, including the Ischaemic Heart Disease, the second cause of death in Singapore, one of the main reasons that we chose this disease to be the top priority of our project.

The Ischaemic Heart Disease, also known as the Coronary Artery Disease, is a common type within the group of cardiovascular diseases, and is basically a blockage or narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle, possibly causing heart attacks as a result.

Current efforts of the Ministry of Health

Currently, the Ministry of Health provides preventive health screenings in Singapore, both for cardiovascular risk factors and for Coronary Artery Disease detection. The main purpose for those screenings is to enable lifestyle interventions to reduce the burden of cardiovascular diseases, they provide information for timely intervention to disrupt the progression from risk to disease burden. Mainly, they want to emphasise that the purpose is to effectively control the symptoms instead of just preventing heart attacks. Also, the Ministry of Health has established the Public Health Intelligence Branch, formerly called the Risk Analysis, in 2007. This branch mainly conducts horizon scanning to identify public health threats. As cardiovascular diseases became more prominent in Singapore, programs that encourage the adoption and maintenance of healthy lifestyle habits, including having a healthy diet, regular physical activity, and leading a smoke-free lifestyle, have also been established.

Regarding their online efforts, the Ministry of Health has a very limited presence. There is very limited information available on their official website, and there are no specific social media platforms to promote awareness or provide information for specific diseases. They do have an official certified Facebook page, but they have only ever posted one message on the Ischaemic Health Disease before, as is shown below.

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This post, however, got 63 likes, which is more than the usual amount of likes that the Facebook page gets. As an analysis of the posts showed, the posts get, in general, an average of 50 likes. However, the page has 49000 likes on Facebook, which would expectedly create some response from the audience on the posts. As the research has also shown, responses are rare and it showed that the page had a low engagement with its public and very little interaction with the users.

Objectives

So, we believe that their online presence could and should definitely be improved. So first and foremost, we want to build an online presence of the Ministry of Health in order to increase the awareness of Ischaemic Heart Disease. Secondly, we want to work from offline education in schools and hospitals to online social education and presence. Also, we want to create a social media strategy that is beneficial for our target audience, since our target audience will not always be as present on social media platforms as we hope them to be, you will read more about this later. And lastly, we want to show that social media can be used beyond the traditional business context and can also be effective in promoting social awareness.

So following these abstract ideas, we have come up with 3 main objectives:

  1. Increase the awareness of the Ischaemic Heart Disease;
  2. Create a care community for both patients & potential at risk individuals;
  3. Create a platform to share upcoming events and initiatives.

Heartkeeper

The Heartkeeper™ is an official non-profit app funded and supervised by the Ministry of Health designed to prolong healthy lifestyles for individuals through information and assistance. Ischaemic heart disease is the second highest death cause in Singapore, totalling up to 19.8%. We have decided to create the app to tap on the popularity of social media in Singapore, as we are one of the most active country as stated by our sources. However, utilizing popular platforms to spread our cause may not be very effective based on our research because our primary target audience mostly consists of the older generation (>40). They currently do not compromise majority of the users in Social Media, especially those ages 60 and up. Therefore, the Heartkeeper™ is tailored for the ease of use, keeping in mind that most of our users might be using apps for the first time and of the older age group. The main channel of distribution of the app will be through healthcare providers under MOH, such as doctors and nurses after consultation. They will be actively recommending this app to those who they think would benefit from it, and at the same time, emphasize the credibility of the app.

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Features

  1. Tailored for the ease of use (verified by pilot studies)
  2. Has all 4 languages (all content are translated manually)
  3. Scientific tips and facts that is verified by the MOH, updated regularly
  4. Updates on the latest health treatments available
  5. Forums (anonymity option available) that are moderated by trained experts and doctors
  6. Events such as free check-ups and social support groups

Concerns

Why would you make the app then, if age is a general concern to using social media?

In 2017, 2G services will not be available anymore. Therefore, most simple and affordable phones will have access to 3G and the app feature. In fact as of current, most phones that do not have the app feature have already phased out from the market. Also, we place emphasis that our app is recommended through official healthcare providers, and it is a non-profit service. Credibility is one of the strengths of our strategy.

What if they don’t even have a phone?

It is plausible that perhaps the older age group of our target (>60) might not have the intention to own a phone at all. Therefore, it will be recommended to their relatives or social workers who stay or visit them. This way, it is still more convenient for them to obtain information, although the only downside to this would be that they cannot access the forums.

How safe is the app for someone with no experience on the internet?

Firstly, all content uploaded are scientifically valid and verified by the MOH. As for the forums, trained experts or doctors will be monitoring actively as to disprove any unreliable information. The events will only consist of those from registered organizations such as community centres and hospitals. There will be no advertisements. One major factor that made us want to create an app instead of using popular social media platforms are the risks associated with the latter. New users to web 2.0 face the risk of scams, unreliable advertising and dubious health facts. We have to take responsibility and precaution if we are the ones who bring new users into using web 2.0 functions.

App showcase

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Conclusion

So, we would like to play into our target audience by providing an alternative social media platform in the form of an app. This app will easily provide them with all the information that they need, as well as they are able to ask questions as much as they like. The app will have an easy interface as well as it will be available in all four local languages. In this way, we would like to increase the awareness of the Ischaemic Heart Disease and combine the offline activities with the online information and forums. Also, we hope that we have shown that social media can be used for more than just promoting a brand or product in the traditional business context, and that it can also be used to promote social awareness on an important health issue.

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