Aiming for nationwide rollout of Electronic Medical Records

“Digitalisation is one of my priorities in reforming our healthcare ecosystem through the EMR system.” - Dr Zaliha Mustafa

PETALING JAYA: The national Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system is targeted for a nationwide rollout by 2026 to ensure a better and seamless delivery of services to patients at public healthcare facilities, according to Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa (pic).

The EMR refers to a digital database system that enables healthcare facilities to keep track of relevant medical information such as registration, clinical laboratory results, pharmacy, nursing and kitchen information.

“Digitalisation is one of my priorities in reforming our healthcare ecosystem through the EMR system.

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“About 103 clinics are using the Teleprimary Care – Oral Health Clinical Information System (TPC-OHCIS), 42 clinics in Negri Sembilan will be fitted with the same system through the national EMR project, 1,027 clinics have used the online appointment system through the MySejahtera app and 370 clinics have offered the virtual clinic service to Malaysians,” she told The Star in an exclusive interview.

Calling the digitalisation of healthcare services a game changer for the sector to accelerate delivery, Dr Zaliha said they had started implementing the EMR project in phases.

“The EMR pilot project started in 2021, involving all health facilities in Negri Sembilan, which comprises seven hospitals, 42 health clinics, and 11 dental clinics,” she said.

The pilot project is expected to be completed in December 2025.

“With the successful implementation of the pilot project, we have set a target to roll out the national EMR system nationwide by 2026,” Dr Zaliha added.

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Healthcare service delivery will be enhanced and improved with the implementation of the EMR system in all government hospitals and clinics.

Additionally, she said the public would also benefit from better care coordination and continuity of care, as well as upgraded data on population health which would be done through comprehensive monitoring to ensure an inclusive and sustainable healthcare system.

The minister added that plans were in the pipeline to expand the EMR system into the private sector.

On March 30, the Dewan Rakyat was told that the digitalisation of the healthcare system would require billions of ringgit.

“The Health Ministry invested in digital health to escalate access to quality healthcare.

“TelePrimary Care (TPC) clinics were introduced in 2005 and upgraded to TelePrimary Care and TPC-OHCIS in 2018 to deliver seamless care to patients in urban and rural areas in seven states,” she said.

Currently, 103 of the government health clinics are fully digitalised with TPC-OHCIS.

“Although this is only 9.6% of the 1,076 government health clinics, our plan is to continue expanding to reach our goal of fully digitalising 50% of these clinics by 2030,” she said.

“We are fully committed to embracing the digital age and transforming all our clinics into modern, efficient and patient-centred facilities.

“The main challenges are infrastructure readiness and hardware procurement. These need a sufficient amount of budget,” she added.

Dr Zaliha also said that the ministry would be implementing a range of digital solutions, including a portal for patient records at government clinics that are not fully equipped with the necessary hardware and infrastructure.

“For this digital transformation to be successful, it is imperative that we are provided with sufficient budget allocation, enabling the smooth and effective implementation of these solutions and delivering the best possible care for all patients,” she said.

On a related note, Dr Zaliha said selected government facilities, including health clinics, would be upgraded.

“Under Budget 2023, out of the RM36.3bil allocated to the ministry, we will prioritise the upgrading of health facilities, especially those older than 50 years.

“We have identified 1,200 health clinics categorised as dilapidated or affected by high costs during the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said, adding that 400 of these clinics would be given priority.

The ministry received the second-highest allocation under Budget 2023, which is higher than the RM32.4bil received last year.

Of this, RM3bil was allocated for new appointments and permanent positions for contract healthcare workers, the purchase of medicine, reagents, vaccines and consumables, as well as the upgrade of older facilities, among others.

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