Public hospitals across Malaysia have cut patient waiting times by half, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced this week.

“In 17 government hospitals across the country, so far, the waiting period for patients has reduced by 50%. This benefits a total of about 2 million patients,” he said, launching the government’s annual performance report.

Hospitals achieved this using the Lean management technique – “thoroughly examining existing processes and eliminating redundancies”, said the report by the Prime Minister’s delivery unit Pemandu.

The hospitals identified any process that caused delays for patients, finding workarounds or eliminating them where possible.

“There was nothing really massive or budget-intensive happening; mostly they were small improvements to existing processes, but they all added up,” said Dr. Nor Akma binti Yusuf, Deputy Director of Hospital Management Services Unit, Ministry of Health.

The lessons from these hospitals will be implemented in the country’s remaining 117 public hospitals in the next two years.

The Ministry is also testing a telehealth system in health and dental clinics. The system allows medical records to be shared across the connected clinics. It also lets patients monitor themselves for illnesses like hypertension and diabetes.

An initial trial of the system showed an 81% reduction in time spent by patients on administrative matters.

It will next be piloted in 12 clinics in Negeri Sembilan state.

Image by Phalinn Ooi, used under CC BY 2.0