We dream of an electronic medical record system

TWENTY years ago Malaysia started to build its own home-grown electronic medical record (EMR) system. The Teleprimary Care (TPC) application package was launched in 1997; in 2015 it became the as TPC-OHCIS (Oral Health Clinical Information System). Yet to date, only 8%, or about 90 out of 1,080, of public health clinics have been electronically connected with the system.

In July this year, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said that the government would use up to RM1.5bil to fully implement an EMR system in all government hospitals and clinics in Malaysia over the next five years. Since then, however, we have yet to hear any updates.

On average, there are 70 million clients’ encounters each year in public health clinics, and clinical notes are still manually recorded in hard copy. An EMR system allows seamless data sharing between primary and secondary care facilities. Most importantly, an EMR system helps to reduce prescription error, redundancy of tests and improve overall patient care.

Today, the world is talking about big data analytics. Precision and predictive medicine are buzz words. Usage of disruptive technology – such as IoT (Internet of Things) devices and sensor and mobile technology – is adding value to EMR systems.

But we have not advanced much. For us to progress from 8% to 100% of public health clinics connected to the EMR system, there has to be a concerted effort from the government. It needs to recognise that a home-grown product is one that is best suited to meet national requirements. Committing RM100mil in the next two years for this purpose would be a much desired undertaking. We need to get the ball rolling, otherwise the population-based health data analytics will remain a dream.

But like all dreams, we are hopeful that one day it will come true.


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