The healthcare industry is growing rapidly and moving toward data-based healthcare services and offerings. The importance of good health data interoperability is becoming prominent. Each country in Southeast Asia (SEA) drives interoperability based on the current state of healthcare digitalization and the complexity of the healthcare system.
Singapore has the most advanced and digitalized healthcare system among the four countries in the scope of this study. It is already implementing a fully integrated healthcare network for health data exchange across all its public hospitals with plans to expand this to private institutions in the near future. Developing countries in SEA—Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand—are taking initiatives to revamp the existing healthcare IT infrastructure, drive standards adoption at the group level, and create awareness on the importance of health data sharing. Although SEA countries are on the fast track to healthcare digitalization, the full benefits of IT cannot be realized if the systems, hospitals, and health systems do not capture and share information seamlessly.
Growing EMR penetration and consolidation of healthcare payments and services through Universal Healthcare will necessitate widespread data collection and exchange across SEA countries. Simultaneously, the increasing penetration of wearables and home monitoring devices, along with the government push toward alternative points-of-care will create pressure on all industry stakeholders to enable the integration of patient-generated health data into EMRs. The operational and clinical benefits of these integrations can only be realized if there is seamless interoperability among systems and organizations. Local and international health informatics standards are instrumental in improving the quality of health data, however, their adoption has been alarmingly low. Lack of direct incentives for providers, insufficient education from standards organizations, delay in regulatory reform from the government, and protection of self-interest among vendors have led to poor data sharing between healthcare entities. While technological challenges can be overcome, the problem of human interoperability is the hardest to solve. Lack of interoperability can have various levels of repercussions based on what the intended use of the data, from patient safety risk to poor national health data warehouse. Addressing this problem requires a combination of regulatory overhaul from the government and aggressive education of both providers and vendors by standards organizations.
This study assess the current state of interoperability standards adoption, market challenges, unmet needs, and potential future direction among four Southeast Asian countries—Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand—that are preparing to embark upon the next phase of healthcare digitalization by building national-level health data repositories and exchange platforms. It also provides recommendations for healthcare stakeholders across SEA to build an ecosystem that benefits all stakeholders through seamless sharing of patient data in a secure environment.