KUALA LUMPUR: With the pandemic driving people to take ownership of their health and spurring healthcare providers to deliver solutions that are sustainable, digitally and easily accessible to all, Island Hospital chief operating officer Stephanie Lee said the industry will be more flexible moving forward.
“Healthcare will be more flexible, including multiple ways to access and receive care. We foresee that people will eventually gain better accessibility to value-based care.
“The new normal has inevitably changed the way treatment is rendered and how healthcare is engaging with patients.
“Teleconsultation has had a dramatic evolution since the start of the pandemic and it is now the preferred way of consultation with our doctors, especially for our foreign patients,” she said.
Island Hospital is still navigating a fluid situation tied to ongoing Covid-19 developments, with severe impact from the closure of the country’s borders cutting off the inflow of foreign patients seeking treatment.
That said, it has seen healthy recovery for local patients since the start of the pandemic, due to rising trust and confidence in the strict standard operating procedures implemented to ensure the safety of patients and hospital staff.
Moreover, with Covid-19 cases still on the rise, the hospital is also doing its part to serve the local community by having walk-in Covid-19 swab tests with quick turnaround time and dedicated Covid-19 wards to accommodate and treat category one to three Covid-19 cases, alongside preparing an intensive care unit should the need arise.
“This is to facilitate treatment for our patients when the need arises and not further put a strain on public healthcare,” she explained.
The hospital has also introduced a paid vaccination programme for those who are interested.
A silver award winner in the services category for large companies in the Export Excellence Awards (EEA) 2019, Island Hospital is gearing up for the reopening of the country’s borders by keeping its patients engaged through various methods, be it online or offline.
She added, “Through teleconsultation, our patients are able to keep their health in check and (this helps) ensure that when they can travel again, the transition will be seamless for them.
“The hospital has been transitioning to the new normal from the start of the pandemic and using the situation as our catalyst for positive change. With the prolonged lockdown, we have unexpectedly gotten more time on our hands to improve on our patient’s experience at the hospital.
“Teleconsultation, medicine delivery and reaching out to our patients virtually, were things that were new to us that have since become a norm that we will continue post Covid-19.”
For instance, Island Hospital launched the use of electronic medical records, which has led to significant improvements in waiting times at clinics, as patient health records is readily and easily accessible with a click of the mouse, instead of having to be physically retrieved, Lee said.
With the decrease in patient load last year, the hospital was also able to stabilise and further enhance systems along the way, in preparation for serving its patients at optimal levels once the situation improves.
“It has also improved our communication with our patients; by having improved communication with patients, we are able to reduce turnaround time when it comes to responding to queries, be it clinical or billing inquiries. The discharge and payment processes have also seen a shorter wait time. And short wait times and instant response is of utmost importance during times like these,” she said.
As a business, Lee noted that the pandemic has taught Island Hospital that change is the only constant in life, which can help spur innovation and growth, such as in virtual consultation and medicine delivery.
She opined, “The pandemic has shown us that, as soon as there is a strong enough stimulus, things can change. Changes like these have led to remarkable innovations and an opportunity to step out of our comfort zones. We see it as an opportunity to create innovations that we can well maintain even after the crisis.”
Winning an award at EEA 2019 is not only a constant reminder that Island Hospital have to be la eader in healthcare advancements and keep up to speed, she said, adding that the win has propelled the hospital’s confidence towards achieving bigger goals in future development.
“Don’t stop evolving, and always be excited about changes and improvements,” she concluded.
EEA 2021 is organised by Star Media Group in partnership with Standard Chartered, with Matrade as patron. It is audited by BDO.