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Strong leadership underpins APAC digital health transformation while leveraging cloud



Experts from Asia-Pacific countries shared their digital transformation improvements and takeaways after adopting cloud technologies in their respective institutions.

Bachir Awad (Amazon Web Services’ Head of Healthcare for APAC, Japan and Australia), Dr Wonchul Cha (CMIO and Director of Digital Innovation Center at Samsung Medical Center in South Korea) and Setiaji (Chief of Digital Transformation Office under Indonesia’s Ministry of Health) took part in the conversation in the keynote session, “Digital Health Transformation – Leveraging Cloud.”

Sponsored by AWS, the session was moderated by Sue McCarthy (AWS Clinical Lead for APAC, Japan and Australia).

Case studies

In South Korea, Dr Cha said the IT systems at SMC had “very big challenges coming”  with increasing demand from patients.

“Although IT cost is going down… the software, hardware, all cost more,” he pointed out.

Dr Cha added that patients had to go through “very complicated procedures” before, but patients could now do the surveys and paperwork on their phones prior to their medical appointment. 

“What we are doing is to try to remove everything else, except the fundamentals,” he said.

Meanwhile, Setiaji said it was a “very big challenge” to engage more people and more communities in Indonesia – a country of over 270 million people and more than 17,000 islands – to accelerate digital transformation.

One of the digital transformation improvements was how 17 telemedicine platforms were established in Indonesia to help self-isolating patients recover from COVID-19. 

He added the nation lacked infrastructure and doctors, yet it would take more than three years to build the infrastructure and around five years to train more doctors.

“Because of that, technology will fill this gap, so we can use telemedicine, virtual medicine to serve our people… I think this is how we can engage more ecosystem[s] and also more people to serve the public,” he said.

“[With] cloud, we can focus [on improving] our public services, especially in the healthcare [sector].”

Positive trend

Awad said governments such as Indonesia had been able to utilise technology to “accelerate their consumer engagement”.  It was not just the case seen in this year’s conference host country. 

“And that’s no different to what we’ve seen in other governments around Asia-Pacific,” he said. 

“Over in India, their ability to build a centralised national health information identifier and scale out to their population within the billions in a matter of [a] month, to using digital technology and more broadly, cloud technology, has enabled consumers to start to interact with the health department in a different fashion.”

Lessons learned

Experts also shared their digital transformation takeaways with the participants.

Setiaji credited having a clear vision and mission; building the principles with the usage of cloud and having a cloud-first policy; building talent capacity; the need for strong leadership; and collaborating with other parties like HIMSS, to build a better health tech ecosystem in Indonesia. 

Dr Cha said the process had been a “very painful, continuous job that involves every stakeholder.” He added there would be a need to establish solid alliances with other institutions.

Awad said it all came down to governance and leadership.

“All successful implementations I’ve seen globally come down to strong vision, strong mandates, strong leadership, on the flip side, governance,” he said.



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