Being 6th on the world rank of Health Care Index 2019, Thailand’s healthcare system holds the best reputation amongst other ASEAN countries.
The country is on the verge of shifting to the era of entirely digitized, seamless, and smart hospital systems following its outstanding hospital infrastructure, low cost, and government responsiveness.
Challenges for Public and Private Hospitals
However, Thailand’s journey in having an integrated intelligent hospital system throughout the country may face some hurdles, as public and private hospitals face different challenges.
Public hospitals’ most prioritized concern is to overcome the rising demand for healthcare services, while private hospitals are fighting to increase efficiency and manage cost to survive in the medical tourism destination fierce competition.
Despite the Ministry of Health’s initiative in introducing a guideline for public hospital digitalization, the eHealth strategy’s attempt in improving health service and management remains limited due to budget constraints.
The government plans to include all sectors involved in eHealth operation by 2022; this means the hospitals are faced with expectations of utilizing big data and eLearning in health sciences and abiding by the adapting legal frameworks mHealth procedures.
Several public hospitals that have succeeded in digitizing and creating a seamless system from front to back operations were mainly funded by private investors aside from government support.
Songkhla Nakarin Hospital, for instance, is backed by Kasikorn Bank to simplify patients flow by using My Health Group to allow an automated queue system that predicts and communicates patient estimated waiting time.
Patients can also apply through a mobile application that would record their health history and optimize their time in the hospital by determining their risk profile.
Ramathibodi Hospital took a different approach. They develop their operational mobile application, RAMA Appointment, through a public organization.
They also improve their clinical excellence with the help of Ramathibodi Foundation’s investment in a brain surgery support robot of 40 THB Million, allowing them to treat high-risk patients’ surgery with more accuracy and reduce the risk of complications.
Urgent Need of Effective Regulations and Standardization
The government’s smart hospital approach is a collaboration project of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Digital Economy.
The Ministry of Health holds direct control over public hospitals. At the same time, the Ministry of Digital Economy supports the whole matter by pertaining the roadmaps to developments and modernizations of public hospitals.
However, as each hospital uses a different technology deemed to fit their needs best, the government is having an issue in synchronizing the policies among agencies and resulting in the timelines being delayed.
Private hospitals face a somewhat similar issue, as different CEOs have different perspectives on technology.
The lack of standard practices among private hospitals becomes an issue that hinders the journey to a fully inclusive smart hospital industry.
Standardization, a more mindful set of regulations, and a better operating system are critical to Thailand’s hospital transformation in becoming more innovative.
Medical equipment and software providers will play a vital role in lobbying public authorities in clearing the pave for efficient regulation, eventually providing just opportunities for all players in the economy.
Source: Thailand Smart Healthcare
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