Public-private partnership, data integration crucial to boost healthcare in Malaysia

by DATUK DR JACOB THOMAS

AN EFFICIENT healthcare system promotes economic growth and competitiveness in a country.

Public and private healthcare systems must play significant roles in uplifting services and providing the best for the public. Collaborative measures taken to integrate and implement a comprehensive system are imperative to improve services, patient and family care, alongside the process of admissions and medical interventions,

Malaysia Productivity Blueprint (MPB) highlights unlocking the potential growth of productivity in the private healthcare subsector through Private Healthcare Productivity Nexus (PHPN) overseen by Malaysia Productivity Corp (MPC), where regulation, technology and innovation, workforce and performance have been identified to strengthen private healthcare in Malaysia.

PHPN aims to boost private healthcare in Malaysia through constant engagement, consultation and facilitation with the public and private sectors. One of the most significant aspects of collaboration is data integration between the private and public healthcare systems.

Data integration through public-private partnership has proven to be instrumental mainly in the Covid-19 vaccination programme by the government. The private clinics were provided with system applications to provide vaccination information to the government’s central database.

Many private healthcare facilities came forward in volunteering to collaborate and tackle disputes that came along with Covid-19. Therefore, data integration between the public and private healthcare facilities was deemed significant.

Several initiatives were driven for operational data integration to ensure seamless data integration between the private and public healthcare systems.

Establishing Malaysian Health Data Warehouse (MyHDW) by Ministry of Health aids in analysing and reporting details through data integration. MyHDW is built based on national health informatics standards that employ overarching healthcare system governance.

Data is available on a “real-time” basis and is ready for processing as and when needed. Most importantly, MyHDW integrates all the operational information of public and private hospitals for benchmarking and planning purposes.

Realising the benefit of data integration through robust public-private partnerships, PHPN organised a series of multi stakeholder discussions and facilitation with a strong commitment and involvement of members of PHPN.

PHPN coordinated four training sessions with private hospitals in six different regions of Malaysia to increase the number of private hospitals submitting their data to MyHDW. During these sessions, PHPN also identified and addressed several concerns revolving around data integration, such as trust, confidentiality and patient care.

Another area where data integration and public-private partnership can be embedded is implementing the diagnosis-related group (DRG) or Casemix, one of the ongoing initiatives driven by PHPN. It works based on having a single system for reimbursement purposes as it utilises standard charges for particular cases or hospital episodes involving admission and procedures or treatment.

It is expected that once the implementation takes place, public hospitals can efficiently refer patients to the private sector, where tariffs can be applied accordingly depending on the negotiation between the referring public hospital and the receiving private hospital or vice versa.

PHPN will drive the DRG/Casemix initiative in preparation for any eventuality of national healthcare financing. Likewise, using a single DRG/Casemix system shall hasten the delivery and provision of treatment to patients.

This DRG system is now being piloted in one private hospital, followed by five other hospitals soon.

In essence, data integration is necessary to ensure the seamless transfer of information needed in giving treatment and care to the patients contributing to their fast recovery. It can also mean shorter hospital stays because of the efficient care provision.

There is also the benefit of convenience for the patients and healthcare providers because patient information will be at their fingertips.

Globally, the use of ICT in the healthcare sector has significantly improved healthcare service delivery. However, this transition is still underway or in its early stages in many developing nations.

While the pandemic has impacted some PPC data integration activities, PHPN will continue to pursue its initiatives as outlined in MPB. Such a systemic shift will usher in a new era of enhanced access to high-quality, relevant health information, which will benefit the public’s health.


Datuk Dr Jacob Thomas is the champion (head) of the PHPN under the MPC, as well as chairman and group medical advisor of Ramsay Sime Darby Health Care Sdn Bhd.