The Ministry of Health (MOH) has launched a central database that will consist of health-related information from both public and private hospitals in Malaysia.

Known as the Malaysian Health Data Warehouse (MyHDW), it is aimed at allowing healthcare professionals make better and more "educated decisions, as well as cut wastage of medicines or resources. It will also be possible to monitor any outbreak of infections such as dengue or influenza.

Describing it as a "significant milestone", Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the information would also allow for better analysis so that service and treatment provided are evidence-based and more cost-effective. This would be useful in the provision and planning of healthcare.

According to the MOH, Malaysia is the seventh country in the world to have such a system.

Second phase data collection includes outpatients

The database is aligned with the National Health Transformation Plan, which focuses on leveraging technology and intelligent solutions to drive innovation and transformation. It was developed in collaboration with MIMOS Berhad, the national R&D agency for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Malaysia.

Currently, the MyHDW system is in its first phase and has collected data from 2.5 million inpatients from government and military hospitals and day-care unit services.

"We will continue to collect more data from outpatients in other healthcare facilities in the second phase," said Dr Subramaniam. "To get the best information, we need integrated health data from all - both from the public and private sectors."

Disease outbreaks can be tracked to make quick policy changes

With such a database, Dr Subramaniam said information such as the number of breast cancer patients in the country, the different risk rates for different races or age would be available.

Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr John Chew added that the effectiveness of treatment for disease such as hypertension and diabetes could also be tracked so that policy changes could be made accordingly.

"This is the future - to mine big data to help health policy planning. It has much potential and hopefully, it will be realised with the linking of all clinics and hospitals in the private and public sectors," he said.

Dr Subramaniam also assured the public that patient privacy and confidentiality would be of "utmost priority" and that sensitive information like identity and personal details would not be accessible.

Availability of data will cut wastage for healthcare providers

According to the MOH, the data is structured for query and analysis purposes. The MyHDW also has the capability to generate reports, analyse and disseminate information through a dashboard, featuring disease-based KPIs.

Health director-general Datuk Seri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the wealth of information would also help policy-makers and healthcare providers cut wastage.

"If we are treating someone and incur a lot of cost but there is not outcome, then we should change our treatment," he explained.

"Through information available on this database, we can make informed decisions and not those made on 'what I think is right' or common perception," he added. MIMS

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