Since TRUST operationalised in late-2022, the platform has rapidly onboarded users from local universities and public healthcare institutions, as well as provisioned datasets for approved use cases.

One such research team is led by Dr Chen Wenjia and her team from the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health and the National University of Singapore, who shared her team’s project and their experience with TRUST.

Tell us about the study you are conducting – what are you looking to discover?
We are studying the trends and economic burden of asthma and COPD on secondary care utilisation. We aim to examine the 20-year trend and costs of hospitalisation due to the disease and comorbidities in patients with asthma and COPD and aim to predict the secondary care burden for the next 20 years. In the next phase, we aim to characterise high secondary care users among these patients.

What do you think are the major benefits of using TRUST for your study?
The main advantage of TRUST data, in our opinion, is its comprehensiveness (in terms of number of variables and sample size), its longitudinal perspective, and the granularity it offers (patient-level data). TRUST data comprehensively documents the secondary care episodes for any cause of all Singapore residents, including the timing, diagnosis and billing of each episode. This allows researchers to use big data analytics to characterise the real-world pattern of healthcare practice, estimate disease burden and trends, identify unmet medical needs and decode the underlying causes.

Do you have any tips or advice for other researchers in the community who might want to apply for access to TRUST data?

  • Prepare a detailed and impactful research plan: clearly define your study objectives, research questions, methodology, and expected outcomes and identify specific data elements required to address your research questions. Additionally, highlight the potential benefits and relevance of your research to the scientific community and society as a whole.
  • Familiarise yourself with TRUST to better understand its goals and specific types of data it provides (e.g., variables, structure, and any specific requirements). This will help you to determine if the data is suitable and aligns with your research goals.
  • Apply to be a TRUST member in order to access the various user guides, which are a comprehensive and helpful source of information to navigate through the TRUST portal effectively.
  • Consider collaboration opportunities! Explore potential collaborations with other researchers or institutions who may have prior experience with the TRUST data to enhance the quality and impact of your research.

As part of TRUST’s outreach and efforts to promote the platform as well as increasing public awareness of the value of data sharing, the TRUST team recently delivered presentations at two local events – the Precision Public Health Asia Conference & a symposium hosted by the British High Commission in Singapore and HealthTEC titled ‘Improving Health Outcomes through Trusted Data Exchange and AI’.

On the sidelines of the events, the team also met and strengthened ties with potential research partners and government organisations such as SAIL Databank (Wales).

TRUST celebrated a milestone on 15 November, with the operationalisation of the TRUST platform.

The milestone was in no small part due to the collective efforts of a team spanning the Ministry of Health, the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNGDO), the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) and Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS).

Researchers from Singaporean public health institutions, institutes of higher learning and publicly funded institutions can now submit data requests to TRUST via Refer to this page for more information.

During this phase, TRUST will focus on supporting public sector users and researchers from Singaporean public research organisations, before the platform is scaled to include strategic private sector partners and collaborators in the next phase.

TRUST will also progressively expand its data catalogue to include datasets useful to the research community, as well as expand the range of use cases to demonstrate the utility and value of TRUST.