The COVID-19 global crisis has undoubtedly brought about huge changes in healthcare systems all over the world. One of the major impacts which it had would be its role in serving as an impetus to accelerate the digital transformation of healthcare globally.
At the HIMSS APAC Malaysia Digital Health Summit session titled “Accelerating the Digital Transformation of Healthcare” hosted by Tim Kelsey (Senior Vice President HIMSS Analytics International), Christian Besler (Chief Digital Officer of Ayala Health Philippines) and Dr Fazilah Shaik Allaudin (Senior Deputy Director of Ministry of Health Malaysia), the panelists discuss the various approaches which the Philippines and Malaysia have taken to continue providing online healthcare services to their citizens amidst this global crisis.
Steps taken by the respective governments
In the Philippines, a huge amount of emphasis was placed on corporate health. This was done in a bid to help employees detect and effectively manage chronic diseases at an early stage which would in turn help to greatly reduce medical insurance costs that will be borne by employers eventually. Primary care clinics were built within large corporations themselves, greatly facilitating employees’ visits to the clinics. With the onset of COVID-19, doctors were open-minded and fast thinking which allowed for the smooth and swift transition to telehealth. With this continued provision of medical services to employees, they could continue working from the safety of their homes whilst receiving the appropriate medical assistance.
Similarly, Malaysia was able to quickly put together a COVID-19 digital response with 6 main focus areas:
- Strategic Risk and Communication
- Community Engagement
- Operational Efficiency
- Insights and Foresights
- Infrastructure and Upgrade
- Research and Clinical Trials
Mainstream media coupled with social media were the key online platforms which were utilised to provide constant updates about new cases or any cluster outbreaks within the country. Contact tracing applications such as “MySejahtra” and “MyTrace” were set up using a QR code digital log system. Each store/restaurant would have a unique QR code which stores the phone number of each individual entering when the user scans the code. In the event that someone who enters the store gets positively diagnosed with the virus, this information can then be promptly disseminated to other visitors of the store and appropriate quarantine actions meted out if necessary.
Virtual clinics and electronic appointments were also made readily available to the public so they can continue to receive the required healthcare services even from their homes.
Numerous operational systems were also deployed in order to manage the sudden influx of infected patients. Queue management systems and facility based systems were set up to aid in crowd control and enforce social distancing measures, effectively mitigating further spread of the virus. eCOVID19, a data collection system comprising of analytical tools and various dashboards served to help monitor new COVID-19 cases and changes on the ground which paved the way for better government decision making in their policies.
On the record
“COVID actually made us realise that a proper data collection tool/system is very important” said Dr Fazilah Shaik Allaudin. She postulates that Malaysia should continue to strengthen redesign the healthcare systems as well as enhance digital technology and innovation in healthcare even with the passing of COVID-19. All these, coupled with the collaboration and coordination of the various sectors of the country will be sufficient to help “revitalize the Malaysian economy which was badly impacted by COVID-19”.
To gain access to the on-demand video of the keynote dialogue, please email Evelyn.Wee@himss.org.