SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health will be implementing an "independent quality assurance review" for every major system change following an IT error earlier this month, Senior Minister of State Edwin Tong said in Parliament on Friday (Mar 1).
MOH will also look into automating some parts of its testing and deployment processes, including the detection of anomalous transaction outcomes, said Mr Tong.
The IT error affected the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) subsidies and other health scheme subsidies of 7,700 people.
Of this number, about 6,400 individuals received higher subsidies than what they were eligible for.
The error arose in the computer system when it calculated means-test results.
The means-test system calculates the healthcare subsidies which individuals are eligible for, based on their income information. Healthcare subsidies are means-tested so that greater financial support is extended to lower-income households.
"Following this incident, MOH has started a review of our testing and deployment processes to identify areas that can be further strengthened," he said.
"For example, we will be implementing an independent Quality Assurance review for every major system change henceforth.
"We will also look into automating some parts of our testing and deployment processes, including the detection of anomalous transaction outcomes. We will continue to learn from our experiences to build a stronger and more robust system."
He was responding to chairman of government parliamentary committee for health Dr Chia Shi-Lu, Nominated Member of Parliament Associate Professor Walter Theseira and Non-Constituency MP Daniel Goh who asked whether subsidies can be computed onsite so that patients can verify the amounts themselves and how often checks are conducted on the IT system.
AMOUNT ESTIMATED TO BE ABOUT S$2 MILLION
"The majority of affected individuals received higher subsidies and they do not need to return the subsidies disbursed," said Mr Tong.
"We estimate the amount to be about S$2 million, and we are in discussions with NCS to recover the amount from them.
"Those who received lower subsidies will have will have the shortfall reimbursed, and their subisidies set to the correct levels going forward."
In September last year, a computerised means-test system that calculates subsidies for individuals, managed by IT firm NCS, was migrated to a new Government data centre.
During this migration, one of the files uploaded to one of the servers was of a wrong version.
As a result, healthcare subsidy tiers of some individuals were computed without the corresponding full income information, Mr Tong said.
Mr Tong added that the ministry agrees with Dr Chia that it is useful to inform CHAS beneficiaries of their subsidies at each deduction so that they can also verify their subsidy levels and balances are accurate and updated.
“We plan to look into this during future rounds of system enhancements,” he said.
The means-test system is a mature one that has been running since 2012, Mr Tong said.
"To ensure the means-test status and healthcare subsidy levels are updated, a refresh of an individual’s data is automatically triggered every two years, or sooner should an individual requests for an updated means-test or makes an appeal," he added.