The previous pandemic accelerated the digital transformation of many services in Thailand, including healthcare. From my perspective, we do not have enough skilled workforce in health informatics. Health informatics expertise is required in three key areas:
– advances in electronic medical records (EMR): Before the pandemic, EMRs were available mostly in private settings. I observed that the pandemic boosted EMR system, speeding up the Ministry of Public Health’s implementation of the availability of EMR in public settings and linking the data across the country. Interoperability has remained the big challenge. Interoperability has increased between providers, payers, and health tech developers, with new tools and interoperability platforms being integrated into EMR systems.
– expansion of telehealth: When lockdowns and restricted capacity in medical offices occurred during the COVID-19 epidemic, telemedicine and telepharmacy emerged as critical healthcare tools. Patients no longer have to travel to the office, expose themselves to infectious diseases, and make appointments in the comfort (and convenience) of their own homes. Telehealth can lead the development of hybrid care models. However, a few challenges can be observed, like secure connections, accessibility, and technical malfunctions.
– cybersecurity: Hospitals and healthcare systems have found themselves targets in this rising cybercrime wave, with multiple hospitals often targeted at once in coordinated ransomware attacks. The knowledge of cybersecurity in healthcare is necessary, including the protection of electronic information and assets from unauthorized access, use, and disclosure.
From my experience, the main challenges are
– Lack of trained workforce: in most healthcare organizations, there are either IT technicians or healthcare professionals, not health informaticians.
– Lack of use of common interoperability standards
– Health IT policy was developed, but the healthcare workers did not know enough to implement it effectively.