Pundits hoping for healthcare sector restructuring in Budget 2021

CryoCord Sdn Bhd managing director James Then hopes that the government would provide more incentives for healthcare players in the upcoming budget. — Bernama pic
CryoCord Sdn Bhd managing director James Then hopes that the government would provide more incentives for healthcare players in the upcoming budget. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 27 — Healthcare experts are hoping that the government would reorganise and restructure the country’s healthcare system — especially the public hospitals — to avoid overspending.

Stem cell banking company, CryoCord Sdn Bhd managing director, James Then said for instance, the government could outsource certain competitive services, such as the blood test service, to the private sector.

“By outsourcing more services under the Ministry of Health, the government will be able to bring down their cost,” he said during the “Transforming Malaysia’s Healthcare through Innovation and Disruptive Technology” webinar, held by Cyberview Sdn Bhd today.

Then was answering Bernama’s question on the healthcare players’ wishlist for Budget 2021, slated to be announced on Nov 6.

On the budget allocation for the healthcare sector, Then expects the government to increase it by only about two per cent from RM30.6 billion under the previous budget.

While acknowledging that the two per cent increase would be insufficient for the sector, Then believes that by outsourcing, the government will be able to reduce its healthcare expenditure, while simultaneously encouraging Malaysia’s healthcare industry to become more efficient.

Apart from that, Then also hopes that the government would provide more incentives for healthcare players in the upcoming budget — not necessarily in cash, but in the form of subsidies in payments or rentals.

He noted that clinical trials can be rather costly, ranging from RM5 million to RM30 million per trial, thus he hopes that the government would allow industry players to use the hospital facilities to run clinical trials for a minimal fee.

Echoing Then’s views, VITA health tracking application (app) founder and chief executive officer Dr Ian Ng hopes that the government could look at what the private sector can do to encourage growth in the healthcare sector, as it is more capital efficient compared with the public sector.

According to Ng, currently, private providers find it hard to enter the government’s ecosystem.

“The government should look at what is already available in the market, so that they know that there are a lot of efficient solutions out there that can integrate faster and better than what the government’s system can do,” he said.

Meanwhile, touching on Malaysia’s smart healthcare development, University of Cyberjaya’s business and technology dean, professor Dr Mudiarasan Kuppusamy lauded the government’s MySejahtera app which helps in managing the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.

However, he noted that there should be a clearer indication as to what happens after using the app, as issues such as Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based ethical or data privacy have become a greater concern among Malaysians.

Nonetheless, he believes that the MySejahtera app has a great potential to become the next level mechanism which could give the government a better understanding about Malaysians’ health behaviours.

On the prospects for Malaysia’s smart healthcare development, Mudiarasan said the government could look at more ground level support to ensure that rural and urban communities are covered under the smart healthcare system.

“The government could also bring down the medical service costs through the use of smart technologies to boost efficiency in the long run, as the nature of smart healthcare should be about the cost to patients too,” he added.  — Bernama

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