Healthcare Experts Push for Cloud Technology in ASEAN

22 November 2022
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Jakarta/Manila/Singapore, 22 November 2022: Taking a deep dive into the healthcare sector and exploring the potential for digital health in the ASEAN region, a webinar was held on 25 November 2022 to focus on how private and public sectors can increase cloud adoption in the healthcare sector and how digital health can help improve health equity in the region.  The webinar, which covered health policy enablers and best practices for digital health, was organised by the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), the Southeast Asia Development Solutions (SEADS), and the Amazon Web Services (AWS) and connected more than 150 participants online, across Asia Pacific region.

The webinar noted that cloud technology is the foundational enabler of the digital transformation of governments, businesses, and organisations of all sizes, thus making it the default pathway for innovation. The webinar viewed cloud technology’s potential role as a game-changer for digital health, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst acknowledging the unprecedented opportunity for government and healthcare leaders to unleash further innovation for digital health, the webinar indicated that creating clear regulations and closing the digital skills gap across all levels would continue to present the main challenges in the region.

Starting the webinar, Mr Nick Hull, Associate Director of Deloitte Access Economics, presented a study by Deloitte on the benefits of cloud-enabled healthcare in the ASEAN region. A panel discussion, moderated by Ms Sruthi Srikanthan, Partner at Deloitte Australia, ensued.

Mr Andrew Wiltshire, AWS’s Healthcare Policy Lead for Asia-Pacific and Japan,  shared how cloud has powered health technology by enabling the use, storage, and sharing of big data. He said that this is particularly important to tackle challenges such as limited equity and short supply of resources in healthcare. With the rapid increase in global demand for healthcare, he emphasised the benefit of using artificial intelligence (AI) to further support clinical trials and improve capacity for healthcare services.  

Dr Antonio Villanueva, ERIA’s Senior Advisor on Healthcare Policy, talked about how cloud and digitalisation in healthcare have allowed governments across the region to have uniformity of electronic medical records. This, he said, has resulted in easier referral and transfer of health information between hospitals or health centres across different cities and regions. He said, however, that when using cloud to build digital health infrastructure, good internet quality and data protection need to be considered.  

Ms Simeen Mirza, Senior Strategy Consultant of Health International, shared how her work aims to build high-quality and affordable healthcare. She said that the use of cloud would enable universal digital coverage which leads to universal health coverage. As cloud enables data sharing, she said this would help bring telemedicine and doctor’s diagnosis to patients unable to go to hospitals.

Dr Eduardo Banzon, Principal Health Specialist of ADB’s Southeast Asia Regional Department and Honorary Visiting Associate Professor of  Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore, said cloud technology in healthcare pushes primary care access and services; empowers healthcare workers; and strengthens the ecosystem amongst health insurance companies, patients, and policymakers. He cited the need for cloud and IT services know-how for governments and policymakers, especially in developing regulations and frameworks to support data protection and security of digital health.

The participants and panellists discussed how government policies on cloud adoption, management, and implementation must be clear and holistic. Whilst they agreed on the clear benefits of cloud adoption to healthcare sector, they said communicating such benefits should be tailored to the different target segments.

The webinar was the second of the AWS-ADB SEADS-ERIA Digital Transformation with the Cloud Webinar Series.

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