Kuala Lumpur, May 30: Institut Jantung Negara (IJN) has embarked on an increased push for healthcare digitalisation.
IJN Chief Executive Officer Datuk Dr Aizai Azan Abdul Rahim said the centre has several digitalisation initiatives in the works, including the implementation of an Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system.
“This is part of our efforts at a ‘total information system’ transformation, which basically entails utilising digital health solutions wherever possible to ease our processes as well as help our patients better manage their own health,” he said, adding that the centre’s digitalisation efforts will also support the government’s long-term goal of entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
IJN’s EMR system is slated to be launched in the third quarter of 2022.
Dr Aizai Azan had earlier revealed IJN’s digitalisation plans in a virtual forum on health technology held today. Titled Digital Health: How Tech Can Help Patients, the forum was jointly organised by IJN and health-tech social enterprise, CaringUp Malaysia and explored the various ways data-driven information systems can help benefit both healthcare professionals as well as patients.
The forum was moderated by BFM presenter Meera Sivasothy, and among the speakers featured included IJN Senior Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon Prof Datuk Dr Azhari Yakub, IJN’s Director of Clinical Research Datuk Dr Suhaini Kadiman, CaringUp Group Chief Executive Officer Pervaiz Gul, and Microsoft Malaysia’s Chief Marketing and Operations Officer Azizah Ali.
In his session, Dr Azhari shared his perspective on the current challenges faced by the medical sector, particular on the issue of medication non-adherence.
Medication non-adherence, which refers to when a patient is not following their prescribed treatment plan, is seen as a serious global issue. According to World Health Organization (WHO), almost half of patients with chronic diseases do not take their medications or treatments as prescribed — a figure that is estimated to be higher among those in developing countries.
Dr Azhari said that for patients with multiple health conditions, in particular, complying with treatment plans was paramount to keeping their illnesses in check.
“A 2021 study found that some 50 to 60 per cent of patients with chronic illnesses had unused medication at home, with the leading cause being that they had not been taking their medicine as prescribed,” he added.
Building on this theme, Dr Suhaini meanwhile touched on the broader impact of medication non-adherence on the patient’s well-being, impact on their treatment effectiveness, as well as to the economy and even the environment.
He explained that when unused medications were found among household garbage or ended up polluting the environment, it signalled a serious issue.
“Unused medication is also a financial wastage for the public health expenditure. This is why IJN is keen on looking for solutions that will benefit the Malaysian healthcare sector as a whole, as well as improve the well-being of Malaysians with chronic illnesses,” he said.
One way IJN is doing this is through a new collaboration with CaringUp Malaysia to introduce a new mobile app called CareAide. CareAide is the first of its kind compliance platform in Asia to help improve medication non-adherence.
As medication adherence involves a behavioural change to address intentional and unintentional non-adherence, CareAide has been created with a feature to address such issues by allowing intervention by the family members.
Based on research conducted, CaringUp found that families play an important role in the healthcare of a patient. The platform also uses a mix of features designed to help patients comply with their prescribed treatment, including personalised calendar alerts, easy information sharing with caregivers and doctors, as well as scheduling functions. On top of that, CareAide uses gamification and rewards for the caregivers and family members to drive a positive change in their life.
In his presentation, Pervaiz shared that mobile apps have the potential to drastically improve medication adherence.
“In the United States, patients who previously only had a 30 to 40 per cent of adherence to medication reached 80 per cent through the ease of managing their treatment plans with the help of apps. We believe that we can similarly improve patient outcomes here in Malaysia, with added localisation features that are better suited to the local culture and norms,” he said.
The unique feature of the mobile app, CareAide is that it will enable family members and caregivers to monitor the medication adherence of the patient remotely.
Meanwhile, Azizah offered a broad overview of how the tech company was helping healthcare providers utilise digital tools, including at centres such as IJN. “When it comes to the healthcare industry, we want to empower people and organizations to address the challenges they face by harnessing the power of technology. This initiative by IJN and CaringUp reflects exactly that – by using data and artificial intelligence, this innovation will help reimagine the future of medication adherence among patients in Malaysia and beyond,” she added.
CaringUp takes a system-wide approach toward solving the complexities of compliance in patients with chronic health conditions. This collaboration empowers IJN’s patients and their families to improve their quality of life by collaboratively regaining control of their health. In turn, IJN creates a care-loop with these patients to lower healthcare costs and ultimately deliver superior health outcomes
“Our experts will examine what the barriers to medication adherence are, and we hope to share these findings with our fellow healthcare professionals to benefit Malaysia’s health sector as a whole,” Dr Aizai Azan said.
“Our goal is to develop personalised solutions that will help patients, as well as their family members and carers, to stick to their treatment.”
According to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission’s Internet Users Survey 2020, 11.3 per cent of Malaysians were non-internet users. Among these, over 51 per cent were aged 60 and above.
“These are precisely the people we need to be aware of and cater to,” Dr Aizai Azan said.
“While more people have become used to using technology due to the pandemic, there are still those who are unable to fully participate in this technological age.
“By studying how we can address these issues, we can better include such groups in this new healthcare revolution.”
He added that all data gathered and stored by the app will strictly with data privacy laws and ethics.
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