Full speed ahead

By Anita Devasahayam

HOSPITAL Selayang in Selangor became the nation’s first paperless and filmless medical centre when it rolled out portions of IT beginning Aug 2.

According to the head of department of paediatrics Datuk Dr A. Jai Mohan, Selayang Hospital offers arguably the most integrated total hospital information system anywhere in the world.

And Dr Jai Mohan should know as he is the Health Ministry telehealth steering committee advisor.

“We are already seeing a small number of patients by appointment only,” says the well-known telemedicine champion.
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Putting theory to practice

By Anita Devasahayam

TELEMEDICINE is no new buzzword as imagined by many. A quick tour online shows that it has been around and in practice for more than 30 years. However its practice is enhanced as technology improves.

The Malaysian government has essentially studied, reflected and borrowed elements of telemedicine practices from other parts of the world and incorporated its own flavour of medical practice.

What impresses proponents yet daunts sceptics is the inclusion of a lifelong health plan into the blueprint for telemedicine.
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The doctor is now online

By Anita Devasahayam

Elements of telemedicine have been put in place since January this year. Although there is no official word on who is responsible for undertaking the mammoth task at national level, telemedicine will be commonplace by 2010. Would such usage of high technology at public hospitals rob us of basic patient care needs and replace the doctor-patient relationship?

MOHAMMAD (not his real name) is a trifle confused. When the medical officer asked him to talk to the specialist through the television screen, he sniggered. How can a doctor staring at him from the screen diagnose his illness? Mohammad, 70, suffers from high blood pressure and has a poor heart. On top of that, he has rheumatism.

After the tele-consultation session, Mohammad leaves the clinic, unconvinced that the diagnosis was any better than his previous visits. Mohammad has been visiting the government hospital monthly since 1975.

“I am paying more but consuming the same amount of drugs and I do not feel better. That doctor on the television monitor has never laid a hand on me, how does he know what is good for me?” he asked.

He adds that the doctors keep asking the same questions over and over again. He wonders if they ever read his medical records.

Although telemedicine promises a person that his lifetime medical record will be electronically stored and made available to doctors, it does not mean that doctors who have such facilities will read a patient’s medical history before examining him or her.
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Malaysian companies to lead telemedicine project

by Julian Matthews

Kuala Lumpur–Two Malaysian companies with strong government links have won the telemedicine contract for Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor project.

The companies are telemedicine software developer start-ups Cybercode and WorldCare Health.

Cybercode’s chairman is Azhar Hashim, a director of Arab Malaysian Development, while WorldCare is a joint-venture company linked to Mokhzani Mahathir, the son of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and executive chairman of medical group Pantai Holdings.

“The negotiations are over and now the agreement is just awaiting approval from the Attorney General’s office,” said the source.

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