How Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur is advancing quality care through technology

Ms Hoo Ling Lee, CEO of Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur, is driving digitalisation including adoption of clinical decision support, CPOE, mobile app and telehealth

Among the first private hospitals in Malaysia to receive Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation and Malaysian Safety for Quality in Healthcare (MSQH), quality and clinical effectiveness is top of mind for Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur.

At the centre of that is a strong commitment to patient safety, says Ms. Hoo Ling Lee, CEO of the hospital: “To me, clinical effectiveness revolves around patient safety. It is about building trust with patients and trust with doctors.”

Ms. Hoo Ling Lee

For healthcare professionals at the hospital and around the world, “clinical effectiveness” is defined as clinicians applying the best knowledge available to reach the best clinical decisions, thus achieving optimum outcomes for patients.

To Ms. Hoo, there are two aspects to achieving clinical effectiveness. Firstly, there is the people component, which involves making sure that all staff are competent and possess the necessary skills to achieve the best clinical outcomes. The hospital makes sure to send its staff for good quality training regularly.

The other component, she says, is infrastructure, which can be further broken down into hardware and software.

An example of hardware would be facilities such as proper ICU set-up, or state-of-the-art equipment such as Gamma Knife, which empower clinicians to achieve desired clinical outcomes. Software or digital technology is an area on which Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur has placed great emphasis in recent years with a goal to help boost clinical effectiveness and efficiency.

Clinical decision support in delivering quality care

Several new digital tools have been introduced in quick succession at GKL in recent years.

A key solution for the clinical staff has been UpToDate®, a clinical decision support tool to which Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur has subscribed for the past two years. UpToDate is a source of evidence-based clinical information and guidance, constantly updated by a global community of leading physicians and pharmacists.

Ms. Hoo shares that the decision to adopt UpToDate was actually sparked by a doctor at Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur who had been using the tool during his stint overseas. She thus decided to check in with the rest of the doctors to gauge their interest in the tool.

“The response was tremendous. Many of them tell me that this is a very good platform, a library of information and knowledge there, coupled with affordable cost and they tell me we should subscribe,” she says.

Two years in, Ms. Hoo sees healthy usage of the tool by her clinicians. Reviewing the top areas of usage, drug information came in first, followed by patient education (or the information written for patients that they should know about a particular disease or condition). Clinicians also frequented pages on specialty disciplines – such as oncology and endocrinology – to look up the latest on epidemiology and clinical features in these fields.

“There is always new information that emerges in medicine,” Ms Hoo notes. “In addition, the volume of poor-quality and often misleading information has increased exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic. So even for my doctors who have been practising for a long time, they still want to keep themselves abreast of the newest updates, and be comforted or have ease of mind that they are indeed on top of the latest developments. They can now easily do so through technology.”

Driving digitalisation and technologies

“As hospital management, it is also important to move ahead in the latest technology and be armed with latest knowledge,” Ms. Hoo says. “This is especially important for Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur, because we pride ourselves as being one of the top hospitals in the country.”

The hospital implemented computerised provider order entry (CPOE) known as Cerebral Plus last November, which allows clinicians to enter and send instructions including medication, radiology and lab orders via a computer application. According to a BMJ paper, CPOE has been shown to improve efficiency in ordering process and care delivery, and also boost safety by “decreasing errors due to miscommunication and handwriting illegibility.” Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur is amongst the first batch of hospitals in IHH Healthcare Malaysia – which has a network of 16 hospitals in the country including Gleneagles Hospitals, Pantai Hospitals and Prince Court Medical Centre – to implement Cerebral Plus.

In addition, the hospital introduced a telehealth platform during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was very useful in reaching out to patients in need of care during pandemic lockdown or movement control, explains Ms. Hoo. She sees that the platform will continue to be relevant even after the pandemic subsides, as it has helped to reduce the frequency of visits needed for certain patients, thus offering more convenience.

Finally, the latest digital platform rolled out at Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur is a new patient information app named MyHealth360. This enables patients to book appointments to their preferred specialists in real-time and access their personal medical and lab reports anytime, anywhere. First made available to health screening patients in February as part of a pilot trial, the app will be launched for all patients in April.

Adapting to and embracing digital change

With a slew of new technologies being introduced for clinicians and patients at Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Ms. Hoo is well aware of the need for a carefully managed roll-out process, especially as they entail significant changes in processes.

“The IT system is just an IT system. What is more important is how people on the ground adapt, and having the processes to incorporate this system well,” explains Ms. Hoo.

Raising the new Cerebral Plus system as an example, she emphasises the need to prepare a strong adaptation plan well ahead of launch.

Firstly, management held numerous engagement sessions, such as meetings or townhalls, to prepare the clinicians mentally for the upcoming change.

“We started this in September, ahead of roll-out in November. We let them know it’s coming, but there’s no need to worry as we will support you,” she explains. “It’s all about assurance.”

After roll-out, the management team also needs to keep an open mind to requests for adjustments, and strive to continuously improve the system.

“There is no perfect system in the world … so we have a very open feedback system, for suggestions such as how to improve user-friendliness, layout and so on,” says Ms. Hoo.

She highlights that a clear support system is also important. For the Cerebral Plus launch, Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur set up a system where each clinic or department is supported by a designated trained staff member who would help guide users. These staff members, from different departments of the hospital from radiographers to doctors, were trained in July – well-ahead of launch in November – so they can subsequently be deployed to help their fellow staff.

“We don’t want this to become a white elephant, where nobody is using it. We want to make sure that any issues faced will be rectified on the spot, but then for long term we will make sure that the system is amended where possible,” Ms. Hoo explains.

Introducing a new technology in a hospital involves getting clinicians across departments to be aligned, and “to speak the same language.” This is no easy feat and requires careful planning and deep user engagement. But ultimately, the key message to be shared to get user buy-in is that there is a common interest at stake – that of quality care and patient safety: “Because at Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur, we Care. For Good.”