The government will implement the phased electronic medical record (EMR) initiative as part of Malaysia’s 12th plan (RMK12) which was tabled in parliament earlier today. EMR aims to digitize individuals’ lifelong health records and make them accessible in different health facilities.

The initiative is part of RMK12’s goal to digitize healthcare, which includes the establishment of a new research center at the National Institute of Health to accelerate the development of innovative digital healthcare products and services.

In addition to the TRA, a number of dedicated systems will be formed to collect information on environmental health, water, sanitation, hygiene, as well as an integrated information system on food security, which will be all used by big data analytics for better decision making. In addition, all of these systems will be integrated into the Malaysian Health Data Warehouse (MyHDW) to enable data sharing between government agencies.

As the story goes, this is not the first time the government has tried to implement an EMR system nationwide. In fact, the previous administration said in 2018 that it plans to roll out the EMR to all hospitals and clinics across the country within three years.

In July 2020, then health minister Dr Adham Baba revealed to parliament [pdf] that 37 of 146 public hospitals (25%), as well as 97 of 1090 public health clinics (9%) were already using an EMR system. He added that 10 hospitals and a public health clinic also share digital records through a health information exchange platform called MyHix.

In the same written response, Dr Adham also noted a pilot implementation in Negeri Sembilan which was designated as the first phase of the national EMR project. This particular implementation, which also covered online patient registration and appointment, electronic payments and virtual consultation, involved seven hospitals, 44 public health clinics and 12 dental clinics in the state.

Overall, it’s pretty clear that this isn’t exactly a new project and progress has been rather slow. So hopefully the Malaysian healthcare system will finally get the proper and fully connected end-to-end EMR system it deserves this time around.

(Sources: RMK12 [pdf]. // Image: DarkoStojanovic / Pixabay, Tuanku Ja’afar Seremban Hospital / Facebook.)

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