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Digital Health Platforms on the rise, Slowly

An interview with our Ministry of Health resulted in a feature article about their many digital health initiatives for the next 5 years at least.  One of these is online health services (digital health services or platforms) which I ran a simple online poll for.

In summary, the poll wanted to gauge the level of awareness around online health services in Malaysia. I won’t say the responses are representative of what’s going on in this country, because:

  1. Not enough Malaysians are on Linkedin
  2. The poll did not gain much traction on Linkedin

But, one could understand the general sentiment among the online Linkedin netizens.

In summary, the sample size is too small.  Also, the results were derived without use of any scientific method beyond the technology that LinkedIn offers. Conclusions and takeaways are at best, observation–based and anecdotal.

But, I was happy because many healthcare professionals, local and from abroad, came forward to vote.

I like what the poll set into motion because after that, professionals from the healthcare industry also came forward and to give their 2 sens about what is happening  in their respective countries.

EITN readers chip in

Things got interesting when I sent the poll by newsletter to Enterprise IT News’ reader database.

The number of poll views and voters surged, and with their ‘contribution’ now the final results of the poll stands as below:

A very high number of views came from NHS (National Health Services from United Kingdom). The organisation with second highest number of views is Microsoft (go figure).

Occupation-wise, Physicians, Consultants, Directors and Founders produced the second- to sixth highest number of views, respectively.

 Can you guess what was the profession with highest number?

It was Sales.

The majority of respondents voted they did not know they could use online health services. Is this indicative of awareness level in the country? Quite a number have also voted that they do not know what online health services are.

That said, the poll (and my definition this time, of online health services) is too simple to come to that conclusion.

Those who voted they have used online health services and will continue doing so, were mostly non-Malaysians.

Other digital health takeaways

A reader from one country, asked if there was demand from doctors and the people?

He wanted to know whether what we have is comparable to Singapore’s.

But, here is how I decided to look at things:

Regulations must be clear, comprehensive, enabling.

That’s the purpose of the national regulatory sandbox – to test the robustness of regulations in “living lab” environments (as close to real-life scenarios as possible). In this way, we can find out what works, what does not work, and fine tune from what we know.

As long as regulations are forward-looking, digital healthcare can zoom forward.

The next thought I have,  is a reflection of what Dr. Fazilah has been sharing.

There has to be partnership.

During this pandemic, there have been partnerships, this spirit of cooperation has been vital in getting many initiatives started.

For example, the initiatives by the Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC), highlighted the importance of collecting data and analysing them to manage the pandemic.

Daily updates about COVID-19 by CPRC, are possible because of data from various multiple sources, and of course relevant technology to manage them all.

This is only one area, but there are many other areas that needs dialogue and cooperation like healthcare financing, and  the use of emerging technologies like drones and robotics, and an all-important health information exchange (HIE).

Is digital health awareness enough?

Many respondents wanted to know what online health services are, and even how to leverage them during this time when no-touch is encouraged. If online health services and digital health platforms are to take off, there has to be mass take up by people.

The late former Communications Minister, Lim Keng Yaik, used to ‘push’ telco providers to keep building infrastructure. “Build and they (users) will come!” this was his favourite mantra for a while.

He was right. Now, it’s hard to imagine life and work without Internet connectivity.

IT BYTES BACK!  says: But, is awareness enough. Far from it. But it is a chance to set the Perception and User Experience around Online/Digital Health Platforms right, right from the very start.