The Ministry of Health will work hand-in-hand with relevant authorities to ensure planning and building of improved hospitals in future
BY CAMILIA REZALI
It is indisputable how drastic the Covid-19 pandemic has shifted businesses and operations worldwide. For one, our healthcare institutions are forced to run towards immense transformation and innovation.
This could mean building a futuristic hospital system that will be 80 per cent based on online services and only 20 per cent on operations in a physical location.
As we may envision, the building blocks of a future hospital may incorporate futuristic technology, robotic doctors and new-age medicine. Technological enablement, digitisation and automation are already affecting healthcare delivery in many ways.
While healthcare moves into the future, the quest for quality and affordability continues to be the key driver for transformation.
Rapidly changing medical technology and the availability of high technology diagnostic and therapeutic equipment, together with the evolving practice pattern of doctors, has revolutionised the pathway of healthcare delivery today.
On Apr 6-7, 2021, CT Event Asia hosted a two-day forum, “The Future Hospital Strategy & Development Forum 2021”, at the Grand Ballroom of Royale Chulan, Kuala Lumpur.
The forum brought together 30 speakers. It comprised hospital leaders, government decision-makers, medical professionals, financiers, and researchers. It aimed to discover how healthcare’s economic, financial, and political framework is evolving and further explore development potential and sustainability strategies for the healthcare sector in the region. It was officiated by Minister of Health Datuk Sri Dr Adham Baba.
In his opening keynote address, the minister said in Malaysia, 63 hospitals, including three university hospitals, were identified as Covid-19 hospitals. Seven have been running as full Covid-19 hospitals, and the rest in a hybrid model.
Malaysian healthcare system goals
With crisis-response efforts in full motion, Malaysia has slowly altered and reengineered its healthcare services. Transfer of ideas into action had to happen fast to adapt and navigate through the pandemic. Healthcare facilities must be ready to switch to “pandemic mode” with ease in the face of future crisis.
Said Dr Adham: “It is hoped that we will emerge from this pandemic with greater resilience by harnessing innovative practices and infrastructure. The Ministry of Health (MoH) will work hand-in-hand with the relevant authorities to ensure the planning and building of future hospitals are done with improved infrastructure design. This will, in turn, ensure sustainability and quality care to our patients.
“We will strive to implement ongoing efforts concerning the Electronic Medical Record (Hospital Information System) in all MoH Hospitals. Among others, this will include the Laboratory Information System, Operating Theatre Management System, Centralised Sterilisation Supply Information System, Blood Bank Information System and Radiology Information System.”
The future of the Malaysian healthcare system is to establish an integrated and interconnected ecosystem. That includes not only MoH Hospitals and health clinics but also other government data platforms, population health agencies and private healthcare facilities.
Improved healthcare facilities
According to Dr Adham, robotics has been launched in MoH hospitals in close collaboration with the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation.
“We are also initiating digital/virtual assisted allied health service (telerehabilitation virtual clinic, cerebral palsy therapy system and virtual dietetic clinic). It will improve/enhance services delivery by technology. The potential areas of 5G-related technology and its application in service delivery is currently being studied for future development and implementation.
New hospital designs and the introduction of the latest healthcare technologies to reinforce patient- centricity and improve patient satisfaction, such as video chat, and virtual reality headsets, will allow patients to stay connected with friends and family.
Apart from that, the resilience of physical infrastructures such as buildings, medical equipment, and non-medical equipment is of paramount importance in ensuring safe, quality, and effective healthcare services.
Dr Adham said: “To further enhance services delivery in MoH hospitals, the MOH Medical Program will continue to optimise resource management through its facilities, equipment, and financing practices.
For instance, the Implementation of Cluster Hospitals and Global Surgery initiatives by the MoH will ensure existing resources, including beds and operation theatres at smaller hospitals, are being utilised at an optimal level.
The access and waiting time for surgery and other procedures or treatment can be reduced and more extensive through this. Busier hospitals can be de-congested, and patients’ experience improved.
“The existing cluster hospital platform will be improved through long term and sustained strategic framework. Day-care services will also be further encouraged to minimise the need for admissions, especially for simpler procedures. With this, the in-patient beds can be fully optimised for the use of acute cases and promote cost-savings,” Dr Adham explained.
The MoH will also enhance the use of health technology assessment as a tool for value-based practices. A reassessment of health technologies will also be introduced so that underutilised technologies can be optimised and obsolete technologies are disengaged.
He noted the new and innovative measures in managing medical equipment such as refurbishment and leasing initiatives will also be further evaluated in the 12th Malaysia Plan.
Reference materials for future use
The Ministry has also embarked on producing “The Handbook of Technical Design Reference for Disaster Preparedness in Setting Up New High-Rise Hospital”. The handbook was developed to help future hospital applicants who intend to build high-rise hospitals. There would be various reasons for this, such as escalating land prices, affordability, and accessibility of medical facilities.
Dr Adham said: “The handbook serves as a comprehensive guideline to ensure safety. It is for patients and others in the building during a disaster, such as a fire. The handbook can be used by both the private and public sectors.”
This handbook was launched virtually on Nov 30, 2020, and is the result of collaboration between the Private Medical Practice Control Section (CKAPS) and the Engineering Division, MoH, Private Healthcare Productivity Nexus (PHPN) from Malaysia Productivity Corporation with inputs from other agencies such as NADMA, BOMBA and DBKL.
So far, the MoH has received positive feedback regarding the handbook.
Dr Adham added: “In line with our national agenda of Shared Prosperity, it is time to place importance on innovation. That will be the game-changer. It will spur Malaysia’s economy to greater heights and contribute positive and unprecedented changes to the nation’s healthcare system and overall well-being of the rakyat.”
Despite the challenging external environment ahead and some cautious economic forecasts, the MoH’s aspiration is not to leave anyone behind under the ambit of universal health coverage. It will remain steadfast and committed to serving Malaysians with quality healthcare through improved access and delivery system for better health outcomes. — The Health