Healthcare consultants, hospital leaders, and other industry experts came together to reflect on the rising digital adoption in healthcare, particularly in Malaysia, and emphasised the need for its accurate and ethical use to ensure the utmost patient care.
Equally important now in the healthcare ecosystem is preventive care, which was also thoroughly discussed at the Healthcare Asia Forum held in Impiana KLCC Kuala Lumpur on 24 May.
The event drew over 10 industry experts and healthcare professionals from private hospitals, investment firms, consultancy groups, and multinational hospitals to tackle digital healthcare trends, patient experience, and the changing ecosystem for genuine universal healthcare.
Ethical generative AI
Starting the forum’s discussion was Boston Consulting Group’s Anurag Agrawal, who talked about the benefits of generative AI in healthcare. He said the technology cuts time and costs to develop new drugs and therapies and reduces time in writing patient notes by 50%.
But there are risks to AI dependency. If not used properly, one could be accused of generating codes without attribution, creating content with bias based on data intake, and providing a confident response that is not accurate. Agrawal advised developing and operating AI systems to have them align with organisational values and widely accepted standards of right and wrong. There should also be a set of tools that will evaluate and oversee the risks of AI.
Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Hoo Ling Lee, said healthcare providers must regularly evaluate new treatments, services, technologies, and data to ensure value-based care for patients.
Hoo also said they have been applying AI tech in ophthalmology, cardiology, and radiology department. AI is now also used for screening patients, which helped them create seamless service whilst also cutting costs.
In eye care, AI was able to screen over 500 patients in the past two months. Five of these patients were correctly detected to have diabetic retinopathy and referred for treatment.
As their hospital continues to maintain telemedicine, Hoo said the top three disciplines it services are Psychiatry, Endocrinology, and O&G (Obstetrics and Gynaecology).
From Prince Court Medical Centre, Datuk Dr. Kuljit Singh took the discussion to future-proofing healthcare services. The medical director and consultant ENT surgeon said this can be done by embracing innovation, leading innovative healthcare delivery, and pioneering the future of private healthcare in Asia.
In Malaysian healthcare, the top challenges include ageing population, non-communicable diseases, delivering accessible but high-quality healthcare, and gaps in healthcare infrastructure.
Dr. Kuljit said hospitals may do their part in solving these issues by collaborating with industry partners such as technology and innovation, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and medical device manufacturers.
Citing some of their cutting-edge medical devices, he mentioned weight-bearing CT and radiotherapy machines.
Meanwhile, Anastasia Miros, KPMG director for healthcare and life sciences for APAC, led the panel discussion about the future of healthcare funding in Asia. Joining the panel are Associate Professor Dr. Lim Ren Jye, the medical centre at Sunway TCM Centre, and Dr. Kuljit.
Evolving patient needs
When the speaking session resumed at the Healthcare Asia Forum, Bain & Company Senior Manager Erik Lim opened his presentation with the perspective of patients. He said patients’ demands include paying more for efficient healthcare service and using touchpoints to manage care.
As patient care continued to evolve, Lim said winning models of future healthcare include
i. Multidisciplinary care teams focused on an integrated approach to medical, behavioral, and Social Determinants of Health;
ii. Seamlessly connected experience enabled by digital tools and increasingly tech-savvy clinicians; and
iii. integrated omnichannel delivery across in-person, virtual, and homecare services.
Care beyond hospitals
The next speaker, Subang Jaya Medical Centre CEO Bryan Lin, used the forum to advocate that general care does not stop in hospitals.
Lin said there should be an effort to pursue better outcomes within society and tap digital health to enable a longer lifespan and a healthier community.
He guided participants to three ways to achieve that. First, through constant, precise and coordinated monitoring; second, through providing predictive and personalized care; and third, by improving productivity and efficiency in the allocation of limited resources.
Capping the speaking sessions was Dr. Khoo Chow Huat, managing director (Hospital and Healthcare Operations) at Sunway Healthcare Group, who said patients should receive appropriate care in the community or at home.
To meet this end, there must be post-discharge visits to patients’ homes by nurses and care workers to ensure that they remain well.
Home care packages may also be offered to the elderly with less acute care needs, Khoo said. There are such solutions, he said, as telehealth, remote monitoring of vitals, and medication delivery, to manage chronic diseases. All these reduce hospital visits that are not urgent.
This year’s Healthcare Asia Forum concluded with Naithy Cyriac, partner at YCP Solidiance, leading the panel session on building robust digital health ecosystems.
Participants in the discussion were Lin and Chris Hardesty, partner at Pureland Group, who highlighted the importance of investing in universal health coverage and primary care and reducing out-of-pocket expenditures.