Ministry looking to govern app referrals

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 16 Sep 2018

Health deputy minister, Dr Lee Boon Chye officiate the 2nd FPMPAM/IPH annual scientific convention incorporating the 1st FPMPAM Malaysian Healthcare conference at Sunway Putra Hotel. Azman Ghani / The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry is looking into drafting a law and guidelines to govern the “uberisation” of medical services.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said the ministry was looking into the legal framework and practising guidelines to address issues related to healthcare services provided by operators of mobile apps linking patients directly to doctors without a hospital or clinic.

Dr Lee said with these apps, doctors could provide consultation in remote areas and even across the border via the Internet.

“These are challenges where the ministry and medical practitioners should collaborate to ensure a healthy development of the healthcare industry without jeopardising the confidentiality, quality and care of the patients,” he said during the launch of a Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations conference here yesterday.

Later, Dr Lee told reporters that one of the problems was data confidentiality – who should own the data, protect it and ensure that this was kept confidential.

Other issues included whether registered doctors were properly trained and to what extent the intermediary ensured the quality of service, he said.

The question of who should take responsibility for complaints of malpractice or service dissatisfaction also needed to be addressed, said Dr Lee.

Globally, there were still no clear guidelines on how to address the issues and the ministry would study various options, he said, adding that Malaysia had faced problems governing Grab Car and Uber services.

Dr Lee also commended the association for its orang asli outreach programme which complemented the ministry’s effort in provi­ding healthcare services in remote areas.

“The ministry is trying its best to provide healthcare services.

“Efforts from NGOs are appreciated as they cover areas which we might not have been able to cover,” he said.

Association president Dr Steven Chow said for the outreach programme, senior doctors over the age 60 would bring junior doctors along with them.

“Doctors fork out their own money as part of their corporate social responsibility. The treatment is free for patients,” he said.

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