An interview with Amazon Web Services ASEAN Healthcare Business Development Lead Dr Yong Chern Chet
Healthcare and technology go hand in hand.
No one knows this better than Dr Yong Chern Chet, the leader of Digital Healthcare. As the ASEAN Healthcare Business Development Lead for Amazon Web Services (AWS) Worldwide Public Sector, he oversees the healthcare go-to-market and provides digital health and healthcare transformation thought leadership.
Simply put, Dr Yong is the bridge between the specialised world of healthcare - think every aspect including clinical practice, medical operations, various care delivery models and niche industry practices - with the enablement capability of cloud technology. He acts like a high-tech Sherpa who guides AWS’ healthcare customers in their digital transformation journey. Dr Yong’s past professional experiences encompasses clinical practice, consulting, healthcare management, corporate innovation and start-up founder has equipped him to speak the languages of both healthcare and IT fluently.
When cloud technology is applied to healthcare, the resultant ability to scale sustainably helps to overcome the traditional industry limitations like access, cost and quality. A significant proportion of healthcare systems and organisations are already being enabled by AWS Cloud with more following suit.
We managed to catch Dr Yong amidst his busy schedule and learnt what he thinks about Singapore’s reading culture, reading as a habit and his favourite sci-fi books.
1) With e-books and information easily available online, there seems to be less people reading (physical) books in general. Do you think there is less interest in reading amongst Singaporeans?
I have a contrary view actually. With the convenience of e-books, people are consuming literature more readily in situations they normally might not be reading, like while commuting or travelling on the train or plane. Also, building a collection of digital books does not require extra space at home.
Be it in a paperback or on an e-Reader or mobile device, reading is a habit and habits are reinforced the more you have the propensity to do it. When we Singaporeans have an interest in something, we tend to want to dwell deep into the subject and the easiest way to do so is via reading.
2) Do you think that Singaporeans are less inclined to learn new information through professional reading material after they enter the workforce?
While I do not have the insight or data on this, I would say it depends on the type of professional career you are pursuing, your company’s organisational culture and even your team’s learning culture. Many organisations take talent development very seriously and good support is given in that context.
Even more relevant to this point is that many current career paths are non-linear and hybrid professions are in demand as market needs create the urgency for expertise from across different areas of professional and technical experience. My favourite example of this is Dr Jonny Kim (https://taskandpurpose.com/news/jonny-kim-seal-doctor-astronaut/) who was a US Navy SEAL, a qualified medical doctor and now a NASA astronaut. I’m sure Dr Kim went through (and still does) a lot of professional reading material.
3) With the overload of information online and many market forces influencing the information that is pushed online, do you think Singaporean readers know the difference between factual quality content and marketing content?
In certain circumstances, I don’t think it’s so much so an issue of ability to discern but it’s also because we are influenced by our emotions and personal motivations when it comes to processing information. With this said, critical thinking is something we all should train ourselves to be good at coupled with good thought discipline. Given that everyone is exposed to information from all forms and sources, a practice that I have is to pre-curate my information channels beforehand. I find this helps to improve the accuracy of the information received.
4) How do you think more people can be motivated to read?
Creating awareness is the key, by awareness I mean on what the true power of reading potentially is. As a habit, it can be extremely impactful if done so consistently and with purpose. Think of it as a really underplayed superpower; it changes the way you see and interact with the world and with others. You can even change yourself or your circumstances through reading and acting on the knowledge and know-how gained. A famous scene in the movie The Matrix shows how the protagonist Neo gains the ability to fight using Kung-Fu after he “downloaded” the skill. That’s a Hollywood analogy of someone applying new knowledge after they read about it.
Maybe we have come to associate reading with studying for exams and that might put some of us off reading as adults. We should be made aware or reminded in this sense that reading is something completely by one’s choice in the area of interest of our choosing and it can be every bit as enjoyable as any other form of entertainment out there.
Also, sometimes we forget that all the cool folks read (present day and also in history)– reading is cool, really (https://www.bustle.com/p/15-famous-readers-who-share-your-passion-for-literature-7679559).
5) Please recommend your favourite non-fiction and fiction books.
Two non-fiction books I read recently to gain practical leadership and professional problem-solving know-how especially if you are in the start-up or innovation-transformation space are:
And an old favourite but still relevant today given the current geopolitical climate is:
I am a huge sci-fi fan given my interest in technology. I am influenced by the works of Isaac Asimov, the Foundation series and later on I discovered the Cyberpunk subgenre via works like William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson – where terms like “Metaverse” were created in the 90s and have become a thing again. I have no doubt that these works have inspired and sparked imaginations of countless entrepreneurs and inventors in Silicon Valley and beyond then and now.