Malaysia is worried about its increasing rates of diseases caused by sedentary lifestyles.

Heart disease, in particular, was the principal cause of death among Malaysians from 2005 to 2014, according to a statement last December by the country’s Statistics Department. The national heart institute, Institut Jantung Negara (IJN), is “playing its part” in raising awareness of heart disease, explains Dato’ Seri Dr Mohd Azhari Yakub, Chief Executive.

IJN is leading the charge to tackle this increasing problem, and is investing in technology to do so. Dr Yakub explains his plans in an exclusive interview with GovInsider.

Tackling manpower woes

The institute wants to invest in technology for efficiency, and to plug gaps in manpower. “Moving forward, we are going into e-medical records, e-pharmacy and automation of the pharmacy,” says Dr Yakub. The hospital has set aside up to 40 million ringgit (~US$9.3 million) of its budget to implement these and other IT projects over the next eight years, he adds.

Dr Yakub hopes to launch the e-medical records and e-pharmacy initiatives within two to three years’ time. The hospital has just implemented the software framework, or “enterprise architecture”, for these projects, he adds. “We have a good idea of what we want, and the building blocks,” he says.

While e-medical record initiative is the hospital’s own, it is planned to be “running in parallel” with the implementation of the Malaysian Health Data Warehouse that was announced earlier this year. The country also hopes to give citizens greater access to their health records, and introduce remote monitoring.

Future plans

IJN College, the hospital’s training centre, helps to “provide manpower training specific to cardiac care” for its own staff and others around the region, says Dr Yakub. Graduates of nursing or biomedical science who are keen to go into cardiology will receive training that fits IJN’s needs, he says. “We train nurses in the critical care area, we train our technicians in terms of echocardiography, radiology,” he adds.

The next few years could see the institute expand to the rest of the country, and possibly the introduction of “mini IJNs”, Dr Yakub says. “The initial five-year horizon, we are looking at some parts of the country that will have our presence, then when the opportunity arises, move on to the ASEAN region,” he says.

An increasing trend among healthcare providers in the region is to look to technology and automation to solve today’s problems, and IJN is no different. Over the next few years, the institute’s focus is equally on cardiac care, and caring for patients and staff.

Image from IJN