Data analytics key in Indonesian healthcare system

July 29th, 2019

Providing citizens with good health care is one of the greatest challenges facing governments today. Changing population demographics and the prevalence of chronic disease in developing countries are putting tremendous pressure on healthcare systems around the world.

Contrary to other Southeast Asian countries, Indonesia has a relatively young population, with about half of the country’s inhabitants under 30 years old — and that figure is growing. As a result, the working-age population is expected to reach 68 percent of the population by 2030. This, combined with an expanding middle class, rising incomes and an increase in chronic diseases due to lifestyle changes, will drive demand and spending for healthcare services.

This trend is in step with global spending in the sector, which is projected to increase by 4.1 percent annually in 2017 to 2021. To improve access, affordability and quality of health care for Indonesians, the Health Care and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan) introduced its own universal health insurance program, which has extended coverage to about 84 percent of the population.

One highly promising solution to these challenges is the application of data analytics. Healthcare systems generate extraordinary volumes of data, and it is clear that if this mountain of information can be efficiently mined, the insights revealed could transform the industry — from pharmaceutical research and development (R&D) to providers’ operational management and patient outcomes.

The region is seeing an extraordinary surge in technology adoption, in both the corporate and personal spheres. In 2017, 27 percent of Indonesia’s population accessed the internet from a mobile phone, and that number is expected to increase by 9 percent by 2023. Digital transformation and Industry 4.0 initiatives — including the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artifical Intelligence (AI) — are is also gaining momentum in enterprises across the region.

Technology is already impacting personal attitudes to wellness — people are increasingly taking individual responsibility.

What this means for the Asian healthcare sector is that stakeholders are now at the intersection of a system that finds itself burdened with exploding populations and rising costs at a time when the digital revolution that is reshaping our world. As the demand for healthcare services increases, so do expectations of what they could and should deliver.

The opportunity is clearly to bring the transformative power of digital technology, including AI and data analytics, to bear on the traditionally labor-intensive and documentation-swamped healthcare industry. It must be acknowledged that health care is still not an industry known for technological innovations — hospitals and healthcare centers typically record charts by hand, use minimal analytics, and keep data in silos.

This is at least partly due to factors such as regulations, liability issues, and complexity, as well as point-to-point integration interfaces. However, healthcare providers need to recognize that the benefits of a developed digital health market are profound in the ability to empower patients, improve engagement, and make care safer and optimize operations.

The judicious application of digital health care also has a significant potential impact on capital expenditures by helping to prevent illness and support the provision of care through alternative locations such as clinics. As a result, fewer hospitals may need to be built and fewer professionals trained, which would help to relieve the burden on healthcare investment.

The accumulation of data is just the beginning. What will really bring about the transformation of healthcare organizations is robust and meaningful analytics at the individual and population levels, aided by advanced AI technologies that scour diverse data sets and reveal actionable insights.

Much of this kind of data will be provided by wearables, as they move from the wellness sector to real-time patient monitoring. Some examples include patches that monitor for cancer, UV exposure sensors, and baby monitoring socks that track oxygen levels, heart rate and sleep.

If healthcare organizations are able to grasp the full potential of the available data, the quality and affordability of care will be significantly impacted. Analytics can help advances in medical research, as well as improve overall patient outcomes and population health. Making the resulting insights available on-demand to decision-makers across the organization can be the key to unleashing an insight-driven health care organization.

It would be wrong, however, to imagine that AI is poised to replace human healthcare professionals. AI delivers its real value when human decision-making combines with computer-generated analytics, and when algorithms benefit from the input of medical experts. Confidence that the data is clean, properly indexed, and de-fragmented is essential if leaders are to use the resulting insights to make better decisions.

“Digital health care” is not so much about the technologies. It’s a question of how the industry as a whole will use these advances to solve healthcare problems, to improve the patient experience, and secure the growth of healthcare providers. There is no doubt that digitally enabled care is a fundamental business imperative.

Apart from the benefits to patients of data-driven diagnoses and treatments, all elements of the industry — providers, insurers, medical technology firms and the pharmaceutical companies — are seeing major shifts in how care is being delivered. Over the longer term, the application of data analytics will help system-wide operations and organizations to deliver more powerful health care.

It is certainly the case that technological innovations such as centralized data, advanced analytics, and application program interfaces are opening doors for the healthcare industry to help provide better care for all. Whether it is preventing infection or to get a better sense of the patient as a whole, data-driven solutions are the way of the future for healthcare. A better healthcare system that puts the patient first fosters a healthier nation is an objective that all can agree on.

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