How AI and cloud are driving healthcare transformation in Indonesia

By Mochamad Azhar

Healthcare sector stakeholders in the country see artificial intelligence as critical in developing health technology in the future. AI can make it easier to get faster analytical results that can be used as a starting point for determining public health policies.

The Indonesian Government intends to further leverage data and AI to improve healthcare outcomes, such as in reducing maternal and child mortality. Image: Ministry of Health, Indonesia

A basic principle of utilising AI is in leveraging technology to help humans complete their tasks more quickly and accurately. In the healthcare sector, speed in decision-making and action is needed for the sake of the public. 


GovInsider sits down with Agus Rachmanto, Deputy Chief of the Digital Transformation Office at the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Indonesia, to discuss how the implementation of AI and cloud can drive the healthcare transformation process in Indonesia.

Formulating public health policy with the help of AI


According to Agus, accurate data is an important foundation in determining public health policy. However, the challenges faced by Indonesia as a country with a large population and a limited number of healthcare workers, make the process of collecting data through research and field surveys time-consuming and costly.


Take, for example, the Government's efforts to tackle malnutrition or stunting in Indonesia. This process mobilises many health workers and volunteers to conduct surveys, visits, and map all locations where cases are found.


“With AI, data collection and processing can be done more efficiently than [when done] manually based on officers’ field reports," he says.


AI can be used to help process data that is already available in the database of the applications and platforms of the Ministry of Health, such as SATUSEHAT and ASIK, of community health clinics (Puskesmas), hospitals, and government health offices. 


Data scientist teams will first validate the data by removing irrelevant data, before the data is processed using machine learning to provide analysis that can be used for health policy considerations.


“The results of this data processing are then used as an initial indication report to formulate the next action, such as verifying cases and intervening,” Agus says.

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Outbreak surveillance

Agus Rachmanto, Deputy Chief of the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) at the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Indonesia, says AI can help identify an outbreak earlier for the Government to take swift action. Image: DTO, Ministry of Health

In addition, AI facilitates the monitoring of outbreaks. Currently, every person who experiences a specific disease must report to healthcare workers at the local level, healthcare workers report the case at the provincial level, before the case is finally checked by agencies at the central level.


The process required from the first reporting to ultimately being handled by health officials at the central level can take a month, thereby causing a delay in the handling of an outbreak.


“When a pandemic occurs, what is needed is a quick response before the outbreak spreads everywhere. AI should be able to help us identify this information earlier so that the anticipation can be faster,” Agus continues.


Based on his findings, outbreak warnings often come from social media. This is because many people do not report cases to health workers, but through status updates on their social media pages.


“In an era when social media is a part of people’s daily lives, we can use this social media analysis as an early indication to follow up on the possibility of an outbreak.”


Once the information is verified, the government can take the appropriate response, from deciding the scale of healthcare resources to be deployed, to the types of interventions to be taken to address the problem.


Not all health workers need to be deployed onsite to carry out treatments, and resources can instead be optimised to intervene at other points.

Cloud utilisation in the healthcare sector


Since its launch in 2022, SATUSEHAT has been using the cloud to store electronic medical record data from thousands of healthcare facilities across Indonesia. The data processed in the cloud is expected to be utilised to help the government observe disease trends in Indonesia and their distribution.


“This information will be very helpful for health sector stakeholders in formulating promotive policies and also useful for the public as health education,” says Agus.


According to Agus, the use of the cloud is directed as a reliable means to support the work carried out by the Ministry of Health's DTO team, in areas such as business processes, storing data, building products, and running applications.


Currently, SATUSEHAT application data management is carried out in a multi-cloud environment together with the National Data Centre (PDN) managed by the Ministry of Communication and Informatics and with the involvement of the private sector.


“We ensure that the health data stored in our cloud is safe, encrypted and well backed up. Application initiation is also carried out to ensure that the application does not have security gaps,” Agus concludes.


Agus Rachmanto, Deputy Chief Digital Transformation Office, Ministry of Health of the Republic of Indonesia, will be speaking at the “How should CIOs respond to cloud and AI” session at GovInsider’s Festival of Innovation conference on 26 and 27 March in Singapore.


Register here to hear more from Agus Rachmanto and the other speakers.


This article was originally translated from Bahasa Indonesia here.