The Uberisation of Healthcare in Malaysia by Director General of Health

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”- Charles Darwin

CYBERJAYA, 4th JULY 2019 – Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences (CUCMS) successfully organized another series of the University’s well-known, ‘Distinguished Lecture’ featuring the Director-General of Health Malaysia, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah on the topic of The Uberisation of Healthcare in Malaysia.

The CUCMS Distinguished Lecture Series features influential speakers from the academia, public sphere and industries who share their unique perspectives on critical topics of interest. The series aims to broaden the educational experience of the university community as well as members of the industry while providing a platform for the healthy exchange of ideas.

In his lecture, Datuk Dr Noor addressed the inevitable digitalization of the healthcare system in Malaysian hospitals. In order to do so, he said “the public must be ready to transform their mindset and embrace the change. Technology is changing rapidly and so should we”.

Datuk Dr Noor introduced eight megatrends that are rapidly changing the world that we live in which includes urbanization, resource scarcity, ageing society, geopolitical shift, societal change and digitalization. He indicated that among all these trends, digitalization is set to become the ‘biggest game-changer of tomorrow’.

It is possible that in the future citizens will be able to book a house call from a doctor, the way they hail a ride. Similar to the Uber app which allows instant access and online tracking for taxi services, the uberisation of healthcare is where patients will have instant access to healthcare and be able to book a house call from a doctor rather than having to come to clinics and hospitals for test, treatment and care.

He added, “Patients’ expectations now reflect the on-demand “instant-culture” and preference for a retail-like experience. The increasing costs of healthcare, the advancement of digital technology and consumer demand for convenience have also driven the shift to uberisation.” The service model of future healthcare would see the point of care shifting from hospitals, clinics and labs back to the community and home.

In future, doctors who want to be part of this service may register with the ministry and receive training just like they would if they were an Uber or Grab driver. Patients may also be able to provide ratings to highlight the services they have received. This is one way to maintain high trust among the patients and build quality assurance.

In the app, the patients can identify the services they want such as wound-dressing, immunization or even chemotherapy. Datuk Dr Noor also added his ministry is even considering the possibility to have surgeries at home. “We have been doing surgery in the community for years. After all, what is ritual circumcision, if not a type of surgery?”.

The Ministry of Health has started working with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commissions to look into smart innovations in treatment for the provision of good quality services at the community level.

The collaboration between these two agencies has seen creative innovations such as wearables that measure blood pressure and pulse rate.

CUCMS has long envisioned the need of new medical innovations in a rapidly increasing world of technological advancement. The Bachelor in Biomedical Engineering Technology (BBET) offered at the University cleverly combines the problem-solving skills of engineering with medical and biological sciences. This equips students with the knowledge to apply the principles of science, engineering and medicine in designing medical devices for the future.

In addition to the wearables, the Ministry and other agencies also created ‘Stethee’, the world’s first intelligent stethoscope that allows users to listen to heart and lung sounds with sophisticated amplification and filtering technology. Datuk Dr Noor said, “the recording can then be transmitted to a smart device such as a smartphone or a tablet via Bluetooth technology and analyzed to build a personal biometric.

He concluded his lecture by stating that Malaysia is well on its way to transforming the future of healthcare. He urged the public to look beyond the status quo and think of creative ideas and innovation to get communities and individuals involved in this healthcare journey. “We must adapt to the new changes happening all around us to better serve the people or risk ourselves to be irrelevant and obsolete in the time to come”.

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