With new digital technologies growing increasingly involved in contemporary healthcare, an upcoming symposium aims to place the implications for patient welfare at the centre of the discussion.

This October, the third edition of the Malaysian Innovative Healthcare Symposium 2018 (MIHS 2018) will bring together healthcare professionals to explore the potential of current and upcoming technologies in transforming the way healthcare services can be delivered to patients, particularly in an age where mobile Internet access is in the hands of an estimated 3.7 billion people globally.

Themed ‘Healthcare 4.0: Closing the Gap Between Patients and Technology’, the one-day symposium, organized by the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society’s Young Pharmacist Chapter (MPS-YPC), will be held on 6th October at Monash University Malaysia in Subang Jaya, Selangor.

“In recent years, increased health awareness amongst the populace has brought about massive changes in the healthcare sector. As patients assume greater responsibility of their health, the focus of care is starting to shift from managing illness to improving health,” said the organizers. “Th­at, along with their increased participation in medical decision making, is driving the implementation of a patient-centric approach in healthcare.”

In the last several years, the emergence of technologies and infrastructure such as cloud computing, big data, social networks and data mobility have increasingly moved healthcare beyond the doors of traditional hospitals and clinics, broadening access and driving down costs. Smartphone apps promise to cut down waiting times by linking patients directly to a digital community of doctors, while enhanced monitoring systems and artificial intelligence in hospitals allow staff to receive advance warning of emergencies in the wards.

Topics to be discussed at MIHS 2018 include the ways that these new innovations impact both patient expectations and modes of healthcare delivery; what current technologies exist in local healthcare institutions, and what lies ahead in the pipeline; as well as practical applications of consumer-centric tools (eg, wearables and mobile apps) in the improvement of public health and the patient experience.

“To provide real-world exposure and to increase participant engagement with health technologies, we will [also] have a pharmacist-coder conduct a demo sharing session,” said the organizers. “Besides showcasing projects and healthcare apps that have been successfully launched, this workshop will introduce participants to simple programming concepts; case studies of common software tools used in healthcare apps; as well as experiences from the healthcare app launching process.”

Speakers at the event include Dr Feisul Idzwan Mustapha, deputy director of the Disease Control Division (NCD Section), MOH; Ng Li Lian, co-founder and director of Tetsuyu Healthcare Holdings; Goh Man Fye, senior director’s assistant, MOH; and Yen Ping Chew, product engineering lead of Advanx Health.

Concluding the symposium will be a public forum on ‘Gerontology: Independent Living for the Aging Society’, which will focus on how healthcare delivery systems in senior care may be shifted to more community- and home-based care models, with the goal of meeting patients’ needs both medically and in broader aspects of day-to-day life.

The forum will be panelled by Dr. Lee Fatt Soon, vice president of the Malaysian Society of Geriatric Medicine; Associate Professor Teh Pei Lee, lead researcher at Monash’s Gerontechnology Laboratory; and Associate Professor Dr Chang Yoong Choon, head of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR).