Health Ministry official’s creative innovation in public health dominates Design Thinking Awards

Danial Dzulkifly


Ophthalmologist officers Asmah Ahmad (left) and Nor Aini Hanafi (right) from the Tuanku Ja’afar Hospital, Seremban had won the DTAM’s People-Centric Award for their innovative eye-chart. — Pictures by Ahmad Zamzahuri

PETALING JAYA, Nov 4 — Ministry of Health officials dominated at this year’s Design Thinking Association of Malaysia (DTAM) awards for the public sector, hosted and organised by the country’s dedicated school of innovation and design thinking, d.school.

In its second year, DTAM had introduced a new award category, namely the Design Thinking for Public Sector Awards (DT-PSA) as a prestigious attempt to honour the application of design thinking within various government ministries.

DT-PSA is divided into three different categories — the People Centric Award, the Future Forward Award and the Creative Collaboration Award.

This year, Ophthalmologist officers Asmah Ahmad and Nor Aini Hanafi from the Tuanku Ja’afar Hospital, Seremban had won the DT-PSA People Centric Award for their Innovative eye chart which helps to screen eye health of children as young as 4-years-old more accurately.

Asmah said the child-friendly eye-chart utilises symbols for children to accurately indicate their level of sight, compared to the conventional alphabet eye test.

“The chart aims to help health clinics to conduct more accurate eye tests for children as young as four-years-old, who might not respond well to the standard alphabet test. We are happy to see that this tool is used to accurately diagnose sight and help children,’’ she added.

Meanwhile, Selangor Health Department tuberculosis (TB) and leprosy unit bagged the DT-PSA Future Forward Award for their Modified Slope Container or better known as Mosco, a device that helps improve the accuracy of tuberculosis test results and properly diagnose patients for treatment.

Selangor Health Department tuberculosis (TB) and leprosy unit former chief Dr Punitha Makeswaran (far left) along with the rest of the department showing of their DTAM’s Future Forward Award.

“The Mosco helps to gather better Phlegm samples which garners better results for us to accurately diagnose the patients whether they have TB or otherwise,’’ the unit’s former chief Dr Punitha Makeswaran said during the award ceremony held today.

Meanwhile, The Public Service Department (JPA), led by its Strategic Information Development and Management Division won the DT-PSA Creative Collaboration Award for its My Progress Monitoring System, which monitors employee’s work progress in real-time through an in-house reporting app.

The division’s Senior Assistant Director Nor Irfan Nor Azman had represented the department at the award.

This year, DTAM had awarded its DT Trailblazer award to Sime Darby Properties New Ventures lead Tee Ee Lyn while Taylor’s University Curriculum Developer and Researcher Ooi Yi Ling bagged the DT advocate award.

The DT Trailblazer Award recognised those who have succeeded in influencing and shaping purposeful, user-centric outcomes in their organisations; and the DT Advocate Award is for those who have propagated the values of design thinking and influencing the adoption of design thinking on a large scale.

This year, DTAM also introduce a special jury award to two uniformed units, Royal Malaysian Police and Royal Navy for their continuous support and application of design thinking.

Genovasi Foundation Trustee Tunku Zain Al-’Abidin Tuanku Muhriz, who was the guest of honour at the awards today, said the positive effect of design thinking is not merely to reduce redundancy or waste but to also promote collaborative problem-solving methods.

“It’s really remarkable as it’s not just about greater efficiency in government service, it is not just about cost-cutting in the private sector. I think is the important lesson is the collaborative aspect as so many other people are learning the positive impact of design thinking,’’ he said in his speech after the award ceremony.

d.school chief executive Datuk Lee Yew Meng (left) and Tunku Zain Al-’Abidin Tuanku Muhriz are pictured during the DTAM Award.

Tunku Zain Al-’Abidin also said that design thinking, if applied at a very young age would bring tremendous positive impact to the economy and the society as a whole.

d.school Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Lee Yew Meng said the award today show how design thinking has allowed even those in the highly regimented workplace, especially those in the public sector, to apply themselves successfully.

“In the civil service, they are all highly-trained but it is a matter of how you apply yourself. If you apply design thinking, you will then receive many solutions,’’ he said, adding that these solutions, if applied, could ultimately result in a positive impact to the nation.

Also present at the award ceremony is National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan, who expressed adulation for the creative problem-solving methods done by the award winners, especially those in the public sector.

Wan Saiful said the government should engage more design thinking skills, such as those taught at the d.school, to overcome more complex challenges facing the public sector in the future.

“If you look at the challenges today, we face new challenges in a much more open environment and I think this is why a more innovative solutions, different tools in management and thinking especially on the government side is needed,’’ he said.

To date, the d.school have more some 5,000 graduate from the civil service and 2,000 from the private sector.

Wan Saiful added that the government should continue to engage in design thinking as the positive impact can be felt in the future and further innovation within the public sector.

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