Key learnings from this Indonesian hospital’s digital transformation

Dr Arina Yuli, Director of Mitra Keluarga Hospital Group, provides an insight into her organisation’s digital journey, the challenges they faced, and how they were able to overcome them.

When Mitra Keluagra Hospital Group first embarked on their digital journey, they found resources to support their transformation hard to come by – a common issue that many healthcare providers in the country faced.

After all, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the global healthcare industry was notorious for being particularly resistant and slow to adopt new digital solutions.

But Mitra Keluagra was determined to press on with their digital journey. While the hospital group consulted with experts from overseas to help them in the initial stages of their digitalisation, it was getting the buy-in from their staff and stakeholders that proved to be the all-important step in their digital transformation.

Speaking to Hospital Management Asia, Dr Arina Yuli, Director of Mitra Keluarga Hospital Group, explained: “Implementing a new technology is not solely an IT project. It is a transformational project which involves each and every staff. It requires the frontliners, nurses, doctors, specialists, and other clinical teams serving the patients within the hospitals to embrace the change.”

Dr Arina also highlighted the importance of having a management team that strongly supported the hospital’s digital transformation, as she said: “Change management is a key issue when it comes to implementing a new technology.

“The role of the top management in mobilising the team to embrace the change, and adopt the new technology, was imperative for the success of its implementation. The stakeholders, too, had to be educated as to why the change was necessary to align with Mitra Keluarga’s strategy and vision.

“So really, the motivation to change flows down from the top. Managing each of the stakeholder’s resistance to change with proper communications would be the one of key aspects in the change management strategy.”

According to Dr Arina, the main reason for Mitra Keluarga’s strong resolve to digitalise was down to the recognition that it would allow them to provide higher quality care to their patients.

In particular, she highlighted how digitalisation has led to the advent of electronic medical records (EMR), which in turn has enabled “better doctor-patient coordination”.

Dr Arina elaborated: “Aligned with Mitra Keluarga’s vision to be a patient centric healthcare provider, patient medical history is one of the critical areas addressed with digitalisation.

“Technology has made it possible for patients to maintain their medical history, and this has led to better doctor-patient coordination as a result.

“In addition, a patient’s electronic medical history can now also be shared among healthcare professionals, which allows for better communication between multiple physicians who are treating the same patient.”

The implementation of new technology has also benefitted the staff and clinicians at Mitra Keluarga.

“Administrative tasks are generally a big hurdle to physician productivity,” said Dr Arina. “But with digitalisation, we are now able to automate certain administrative tasks. Doing so has helped to reduce the workload and burden on physicians and clinical staff, which allows them to better focus on treating patients.”

But it is not just Mitra Keluarga that has undergone a digital transformation. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of their patients, too, have had to adopt digital solutions – such as telemedicine services, and wearable technology – in order to receive treatment.

“Due to the fear of infection, many people were hesitant to visit a hospital, and postponed their regular health checks during the pandemic,” said Dr Arina. “As a result, their quality of life and health was compromised.

“But with the use of telemedicine, patients with chronic diseases can now receive consultation and treatment virtually. There are also now many IOTs like wearables that can assist doctors to monitor their patients’ wellbeing remotely.

“Healthcare access has long been one of the major pains in Indonesia, given the low number of healthcare professionals in the country. But with digitalisation and the use of telemedicine, it will expand access to quality healthcare to more people in the country, especially in areas where the doctors to population ratio is low.”

While Mitra Keluarga’s digital transformation has gone smoothly so far, they do not intend to slow down any time soon.

Indeed, Dr Arina revealed that the hospital group was already looking at introducing new technology in the near future with a view to further enhancing the patient experience and safety.

Some of these initiatives include self-service kiosks for patient registrations with an automated queue management system, as well as a new digital platform to provide more seamless teleconsultation to their patients using video call technology.

She added: “Patient medical history will now be kept in (mobile) applications, thus allowing them to access it easily. Clinical orders including diagnostic testing, drug dispensing and delivery will also be part of the solutions provided by the apps for the users.”

And with the pandemic helping to accelerate digitalisation in healthcare globally, Dr Arina foresees that the entire industry will continue to rely on new technology even more in future.

“Technological advances in artificial intelligence, big data, robotics including blockchains, and machine learning would be the areas that the healthcare industry will be heading towards,” Dr Arina mused.

“This is good news, because it will enable major scientific breakthroughs, accelerating the creation of new therapy choices, which in turn will lead to safer and more effective treatments for patients.”