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OPINION: Technology to aid Malaysia’s healthcare sector

Grace Ho | June 6, 2012
If appropriately provided for and managed, technology should help improve patient outcomes.

Grace Ho - Motorola Healthcare

Malaysia, like many developed countries in Asia, is putting priority in delivering quality healthcare at reasonable costs. Continued population growth, a large migrant worker community, shortage of clinicians, and tightening of budgets are just some of the issues pressuring the healthcare system.

At present, Malaysia's healthcare system is divided into two sectors-the public sector and the private sector. Over the years, Malaysia has been continuously vigilant about her healthcare system and the presence and growing number of medical schools is testament that Malaysia is committed to providing quality healthcare, not only to its citizens, but also to expatriates, tourists, migrants, and visitors.

In recent years, health tourism has become an increasingly important part of the Malaysian economy, leading the Ministry of Health to set up the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) to develop and promote health tourism, with the target of achieving RM9.6 billion (US$3 billion) in revenue from 1.9 million foreign patients by 2020.[1]

Evidently, Malaysia expects to build more hospitals with better facilities in the foreseeable future, with the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) projecting that by 2020, the country will need up to 6,000 hospital beds, of which 1,900 beds are for foreign patients.

From the public to the private sector, healthcare providers are not only supporting the demand for beds but also increasing their investment in technology and, in particular, mobile communications, to better enable their workforce and improve patient experiences. But can deployment of technology have the desired 'snowball' effect that will, over time, overcome challenges such as the strain on staff and budgetary resources?

If appropriately deployed and properly managed, absolutely.

Like any other business tool, technology can be a hindrance or an aid, depending on how it is applied, how well it fits into an existing system, and how and where it is strategically invested.

If appropriately provided for and managed, technology should help improve patient outcomes. Particularly, it can lead to higher quality patient care, reduce cost of care for both healthcare providers and users, shorten the time to deliver and receive care, and even provide increased patient autonomy in healthcare delivery.

The business of healthcare, whether at a doctor's office, hospital, outpatient facility or long-term care facility, often depends upon a delicate balance between urgency, accuracy, privacy, regulation and technology. This can make solving issues in the healthcare industry seem like a daunting task, but with the right technology solution, many improvements can be seen quickly and easily.

Arguably, two of the largest issues facing the healthcare industry today are enhancing worker productivity and reducing human error.


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