Hybrid cloud adoption set to power better healthcare in Malaysia

By Avinash Gowda


THE COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t just put healthcare providers at the centre of public consciousness; it has also highlighted the pressing need for digital transformation in the sector, pushing digital health technologies such as telehealth and remote monitoring into the fore.

The impetus for change is both internal and external. Healthcare organisations face a particular challenge in accommodating practices such as remote working since for many, the concept is entirely new.

This has necessitated the transition to telehealth consultations, and the need to secure data and patient information. Under these fluid circumstances, healthcare organisations must also find new ways to work efficiently with governments and businesses to deliver the vaccine and other solutions as they become available.

In Malaysia, for instance, technology is playing a pivotal role in the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation’s development of new COVID-19 testing technologies — which leverage DNA and fibre-optic sensors to detect the virus from saliva samples.

Avinash Gowda

The Government’s investments in 5G by the end of the year are also expected to boost healthcare proficiencies, from monitoring of health applications for chronic patients, to smart emergency assistance.

However, transforming will continue to be a steep process. At the moment, over a quarter of healthcare organizations run exclusively traditional, non-cloud-enabled datacentres — more so than any other industry, according to our latest Healthcare Enterprise Cloud Index (ECI) report.

The good news is that many have an ambitious five-year-plans to rectify this, by opting for hybrid cloud setups as the foundation for their operations.

The added flexibility that this offers will mean increased operational agility for organisations, who will be able to transition to telehealth consultations with greater confidence and ease. It also promises to help streamline processes such as invoicing and payments, which will make it easier for organisations to collaborate with third parties, such as governments, academics and businesses.

The shift to hybrid cloud is part of an increased focus on IT across the board. In our report, more than two thirds of respondents said their companies were looking at IT more strategically, as a result of the pandemic. Almost all (95%) said a hybrid model would be their top choice as a means of preparing for the future.

As in many industries, COVID-19 has sped up change that was already on the cards. According to United Nations estimates, 17% of Malaysia’s population will be over the age of 80 by 2045 — which promises to put further pressure on already-strained healthcare systems and Malaysia’s care economy.

Plans to introduce universal health coverage are underway and while this is an encouraging step forward, a more robust infrastructure is essential to ensure these schemes work as they should, especially as equity in access may not apply for many of Malaysia’s rural populations.

Further challenges the industry faces include greater integration between Malaysia’s public and private healthcare organisations, expanding preventive healthcare practices and capabilities; speeding up research; implementing a value-based system that truly prioritises patient health outcomes; and safeguarding data.

Our research shows that healthcare practitioners in Asia-Pacific worry more about security than their global counterparts, with almost 60% describing it as a significant challenge. Close to half also struggle with cost control and business continuity.

These issues obstruct the industry from fulfilling its core mission — to save lives. The effective adoption of technology will be central to allowing healthcare professionals to focus on what matters most. Bearing in mind the need for agility, flexibility and control, healthcare organisations recognise the need to build that technology on hybrid or multi-cloud models.

This approach will also help position the industry for further innovation in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and robotics, which are likely to play an increasing role in enhancing both operational efficiency and patient experiences.

For instance, AI and cloud computing have already been used in the development of COVID-19 vaccines, playing a vital role in streamlining clinical trials, and accelerating development and approval processes.

We are already seeing examples of successful transformation within healthcare institutions in Malaysia and across the region. Indonesia-based Mandiri Inhealth is a prime example — the health insurance program provider upgraded its legacy systems with Nutanix Enterprise Cloud to improve system performance, streamline operations, and increase scalability.

As a result, Mandiri Inhealth was able to demonstrate stronger system performance and reliability for its users, enabling it to scale its operations easily and ultimately better service its thousands of customers across the nation.

Technology should always be about improving the lives of others, and there are few areas where it can have more meaningful impact than healthcare. While invisible, the hybrid cloud will serve as the basis of better service, and ultimately better health, in Malaysia. – March 16, 2021


Avinash Gowda is the Country Manager for Malaysia at Nutanix.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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