Adopt and Adapt: Why Keeping Up With Technology In Healthcare Matters?

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Technology in healthcare has always been seen as an aspiring ever-growing factor that helps to not only improve the way patients are treated but also the way healthcare workers operate within their space, be it in a hospital, clinic or a wellness center even. 

Digital transformation has always been touted as a need for the industry but we mostly saw the acceleration of adoption and integration when the Covid-19 pandemic hit us back in 2020. Telehealth services which were always present came into the spotlight as the demand and need rose with 90% of the population at home looking to prioritise their health without stepping out. 

A decade ago, when I started my journey as a doctor in the NHS system, the system that I used was HIS , which remained to be the same for the next 10 years of my journey as a medical officer. The situation remained similar even in Malaysia right up till the pandemic, where AI and telehealth received more focus. 

It’s All About Strengthening 

While telehealth has been developing in Malaysia, adoption was relatively low and challenges were abundant prior to the pandemic. The public still preferred face to face appointments and telehealth platforms was not a priority. 

This changed during the first wave of the pandemic where choice to visit hospitals and fulfill appointments were limited hence the push to opt for telehealth platforms naturally came about. However, as we transition into the  new normal, more and more are heading back towards old preferences choosing face to face appointments. 

So what can we do to reprioritise technology in order to ease the burden on both patients and healthcare workers? To me, it’s all about strengthening the offerings we already have. The digital care ecosystem in Indonesia and Thailand is experiencing a higher level of demands and expenditure. 

According to the WHO’s global health expenditure database, Indonesia’s health expenditure came to $36 billion in 2020, up 71% from 2010, while Thailand’s nearly doubled to $22 billion during the same period. Medical spending in other Southeast Asian countries has also increased dramatically.

With populations across the bigger cities in Indonesia opting for telehealth consults, can the same be said for Malaysians?

This is where telehealth and healthtech providers would need to delve deeper into collaborations to enhance user experience and ensure more people see these options as means to making their healthcare experience efficient , rather than having to go through multiple physical visits and long waiting times. 

Strengthening an already present integrated approach is a must to ensure healthtech offering becomes a part of the everyday Malaysian life. 

Healthtech providers will also have to focus on providing solutions that go beyond just treating fever and cough. How do we better enhance services that cover other conditions and NCDs in particular. 

Treating Technology As A Tool To Assist

The fear towards utilising healthtech is present on both sides, the patients and between doctors. To me, it should be seen as a tool to better the craft we are involved in. With AI and new wearables for instance, these offerings do not necessarily replace our day to day duties but merely reduce our burden in seeing patients. 

Uttilisation and adoption of technology will also assist in broadening the market for doctors everywhere, allowing us to offer our expertise to patients beyond the Malaysian border. However, I am also of the opinion for the need for proper regulations and certification for doctors to truly embrace contributing to the country’s medical tourism economy as well. 

In a digital world, this move will further strengthen Malaysia’s position as a healthcare hub

The Learning Continues

Some of the common questions I often get from doctors is where do we start and does it really matter in the long run? Technology is a fast-pacing factor in any industry , and within the healthcare space, it can be equally daunting to keep up with. 

With the rise of AI and healthtech offerings, it may not be easy hence this is where the need to prioritise comes into play. Whether you are a GP or a medical officer in a government hospital setting, it is important to understand which part of healthech matters to your market of patients. 

More and more patients are into wearables to better track their health and as doctors, it is imperative to understand how our treatment can be in sync with their initiatives and technology. 

Upskilling yourself in accordance with new offerings and understand on how these can fit with our way of treating patients can go a long way in building a trust with patients

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