Doing it right from the get-go: The commitment of Sunway Medical Centre Velocity towards patient safety and satisfaction
28 Jan 2020
The interest in healthcare and medicine is evident from companies in fields unrelated to healthcare venturing into the scene. With this interest is the boom of healthcare facilities, both clinics and hospitals, being set up in the country. As of end 2017, Malaysia counted 200 private hospitals with 14,799 beds. [https://www.export.gov/article?id=Malaysia-Healthcare, Accessed on 18 November]
The recent launch of Sunway Medical Centre Velocity (SMCV) coincides with the boom of hospitals established in the country. However, its founding should not be seen as jumping on the bandwagon. Rather, the hospital is a carefully planned and executed venture. MIMS spoke to SMCV’s Chief Executive Officer, Wilson Choo, to get his insights on the establishment of SMCV and his vision for SMCV in the short and long term.
As the hospital is so new (it was opened in September 2019), what vision do you have for SMCV and what steps have you put in motion to place it among the top choices of healthcare in the region?
Choo: Our vision is for SMCV to be the preferred hospital in Kuala Lumpur.
Currently, SMCV is the only full-fledged private tertiary hospital in the Kuala Lumpur South Region. The region stretches from Jalan Cheras all the way to Kajang. We are a 240 bed purpose built tertiary hospital offering comprehensive and modern healthcare facilities and medical services. We have 12 critical care beds, a dialysis centre, a day surgery centre, a chemotherapy day-ward, five delivery rooms, a comprehensive radiology department with the latest equipment, a cardiac catheterization laboratory, and a nursery. Our facility has a 24-hour Emergency Department and is overseen by an emergency physician. The emergency physician is a specialist in advanced cardiac life support, resuscitation, trauma care, and management of various life-threatening situations. We have on board 68 consultants in various disciplines offering almost a one-stop service for our patients. The hospital’s current forte lies in women and children; and cardiology, eye, and emergency services.
SMCV is strategically located within the vibrant integrated township of Sunway Velocity, which consists of residential, commercial, office, retail, education, and hospitality services. The township is very well connected to three train lines and major highways. All these factors place SMCV in a position to provide the best care for the local community as well as medical tourists. It is my hope that SMCV will be the preferred hospital among the community of southern Kuala Lumpur/Cheras and among health tourists.
We’ve established your vision for SMCV and the long-term plan of turning it into a community, as well as medical tourism hub. How important is technology and innovation when it comes to the optimal running of the organization?
Choo: Technology is a vital component in the optimal running of the SMCV. If well deployed it also provides a competitive edge for the organization. For instance, data collected from our systems can provide useful insights into various aspects of the organization which, in turn, allow management to zoom in and focus on issues of importance. Now, we can tell where our customers come from and make adjustments to accommodate their preferences. Of course, technology can also be used to improve patient safety. Our clinicians and nurses are often inundated with information about a patient and it can be overwhelming. If they are provided with suitable decision support, we can help them make better decisions regarding the patient and reduce errors. Technology can also help an organization such as ours improve customer service. It helps us engage customers better and helps us to reach out to the customers on a more personal level.
No organization can boast to be smooth sailing in its maintenance and management, and SMCV is no exception. What has been the biggest challenge your organization has faced so far?
Choo: As a new hospital, the biggest challenge has been that of human resource – getting doctors and nurses to join us. It is a perennial issue faced by every hospital because of the shortage of nurses in the industry and also, as a new hospital, we have to prove ourselves to the patients as we compete against the more established players in the industry. In some departments, recruitment never ends due to growth in operations and the high turnover of nurses leaving for greener pastures overseas. In the nursing department, we are always looking for people with the right qualifications, experience, and attitude.
Besides having new staff and doctors from other organizations, we also hire people from different industries with different practices, and put them together in a new environment. It can be a challenge to get them to adopt the systems and technology we are using. Some are from a much older generation and are less tech savvy (in general) while some are much more tech savvy so they can learn faster. The challenge is how to support those who are less tech savvy and ensure they use our systems and use them properly.
With regard to technology, it changes so fast and it will be hard to chase every new piece of technology that comes to the market. There must be a balance between cost and benefit of the investment we put in compared with other expenditures of the organization.
We know SMCV has adopted the ORIGIN Hospital Information System (HIS) and Electronic Medical Record (EMR). What was the impetus for your organization to adopt the MIMS Clinical Decision Support (CDS) system? What is the main benefit that stems from its use?
Choo: MIMS is a globally recognized brand that provides clinically accurate information. Back in Sunway Medical Centre (SunMed) in Sunway City, we had been using MIMS to provide the doctors and pharmacists with clinical decision support. Over here, we have invested in the ORIGIN HIS, which has a track record of being seamlessly integrated with MIMS CDS. Therefore, it was an easy decision for us to use something that has been proven to integrate well and we have had good experience with MIMS CDS in the past.
MIMS CDS is a clinical database that has all the information pertaining to drug-drug interactions, potential adverse events, and contraindications. Our doctors utilize the HIS when treating a patient and inevitably, they will place an order of medications for the patient. The HIS performs a cross check with the MIMS database to see if the drug will elicit any adverse events in the patient or if the patient is on an existing drug which may interact with the new prescription. The system will then prompt the doctor that the prescription may cause a reaction.
In the utilization of CDS, a common complaint is that of alert fatigue, which is arguably inescapable. What are your thoughts on this?
Choo: We are aware of the possibility of alert fatigue and have taken steps to minimize this condition. As you know, there are many levels of alert and some are not critical. In our hospital, we set the level of severity for alerts so that there won’t be too many prompts to the doctors and nurses when they enter decisions into the HIS. We don’t want them to feel the system is cumbersome and subsequently, feel reluctant to use the system. In our setting, the only interaction that is considered critical is drug allergies which trigger a warning immediately. Next, for drug interactions, we have the moderate and severe alerts. Anything that is lower than moderate or severe doesn’t trigger an alert and the doctors and nurses do not get prompted.
What other technologies are you looking to implement or have implemented in SMCV?
Choo: We have implemented and are testing a patient appointment system. Here, a patient can make an appointment from the SMCV website. Upon registration, the automated system sends a message to the patient listing the time and date of the appointment, a map to the hospital, and where to park.
On the day of the appointment, a queue number will be given to the patient once they register at the terminal. The patient will receive a queue number and an estimated waiting time. The patient can then decide if he or she would like to have a drink at the café nearby or to go shopping at the connected retail complex. They will also be alerted should their doctor have an emergency procedure to attend to.
Currently, we have PACs and LIS integrated with the HIS system. We are planning to gradually have more systems and services integrated with the HIS (eg, patient monitoring system, special diagnostic department equipment, etc).
There are more technologies to be implemented but as I mentioned, we need to balance cost and benefit and prioritize in line with the growth of the business.