Major pressure is being placed on Thailand’s public hospitals. With an aging population now facing more complex health issues and rising medical costs, the healthcare sector is looking to public hospitals to fill the gap and improve quality of life. But with a seemingly never-ending influx of patients and increasingly overworked health professionals, improvements need to be made to increase the efficacy of the overall system and ease the burden on frontline workers.
According to the YCP Solidiance white paper The Future of Smart Hospitals in Thailand, “smart” hospitals—which are characterized by interconnected and automated solutions powered by digital technology—are the future of the healthcare landscape and the answer to Thailand’s complex healthcare challenges. The burden on the public hospital system makes digitalization vital for efficiency, with ~80% of total patient beds in the country relying on public healthcare.
An example of a public hospital that has successfully integrated smart technology into its system is Samutprakan Hospital, a 600-bed facility that caters to 2.5 million Thai citizens under universal health insurance.
Case Study: Samutprakan Hospital
The hospital began the “smart” process by using the 3P’s Strategy that allowed its stakeholders to objectively assess areas for improvement:
- People: Improve organization and people management by involving all staff in creating new processes to adapt to digital
- Process: Redesign hospital check-in flow with guidance from health and tech start-ups
- Program: Utilize lean equipment to improve the efficiency of and to streamline work processes
Centralizing the “smart” process around these three pillars allowed the hospital to source efficient and purposeful technology that would create impactful change. The hospital also established partnerships with several digital and tech providers like Blockchain, Next Gov, Clicknic, and AIS to pinpoint effective answers to its specific challenges:
- Unconnected Patient Records: 1.2 million of the hospital’s over 2.5 million patients are categorized as displaced workers, who often have outdated patient records or ones scattered across different healthcare facilities and providers. To solve this issue, Samutprakan used Blockchain, an electronic medical record connected to every hospital in Samut Prakan province. Patient information is safely stored on the cloud and can be easily accessed by medical professionals with secure safeguards.
- Excessive Workload: The hospital’s healthcare workers had to manage a daily patient flow of 3,200 outpatients and 615 inpatients, leading to worker fatigue that could result in a lower standard of care. Utilizing self-check-in machines, AI chatbots, self-payment kiosks, and other tech-enabled solutions allowed health workers to focus on more important tasks by decongesting patient backlog.
- Inaccessible Patients: Travelling to the hospital for appointments and/or procedures was difficult for some patients who lived in far-flung areas. To make sure they still received care, the hospital introduced telemedicine services, as well as pharmaceutical delivery, to mitigate travel issues and prevent long lines at the hospital.
The different challenges faced by public hospitals make them good candidates for integrating digital technology. Much like Samutprakan Hospital, creating “smarter” hospitals is necessary to evolve the quality of care within Thailand, and a great opportunity for vendors and other businesses to collaborate with healthcare providers.
To learn more about the different business opportunities in developing Thailand’s smart hospitals, download the full white paper here.
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