The public healthcare system in Thailand had witnessed many meaningful advancements, thanks to the improvement of technologies and medical innovations. This vast improvement owed a great deal to the cooperation between various stakeholders, who have played vital roles in pushing the development of comprehensive and effective treatments to raise the standard of healthcare and subsequently enhance the quality of lives for patients. With the importance of this cause in mind, the International Experience Exchange with Patient Organization (IEEPO), the Thai Cancer Society (TCS), and the Thai Hemophilia Patient Club (THPC), under the sponsorship of Roche Thailand Limited have organized the Thailand EEPO 2020 (Experience Exchange with Patient Organization) event, under the theme “Power of Data & Digitalization of Healthcare”. The objectives of the event are to strengthen the relationship between stakeholders in the healthcare sector, through the exchange of information, as well as to examine the benefits and challenges that come with personalized healthcare, the use of data in healthcare, and the digital transformation of Thailand’s public healthcare system.
The main topic of discussion at the Thailand EEPO 2020 event is in regard to the advancement of personalized healthcare that has played a significant role in enhancing the efficiency of treatment for patients. By drawing valuable information from patients, such as genetic profiles or history of medical complications, doctors are better equipped with the right source of information to diagnose more accurately and proceed with the most suitable treatment option. Eakawut Suwannaroj, Vice President of the Thai Hemophilia Patients Club and co-host of the Thailand EEPO 2020 event stated, “Even though some patients show the same systems, the root causes of their symptoms may differ. Therefore, personalized healthcare should be practiced from the start in the diagnosis stage, to create awareness for the patients in regard to the fundamental status of their health. In addition, patients can better understand how to monitor their symptoms and take care of their health in the most suitable manner. In the case of rare diseases, personalized healthcare is increasingly crucial because 80 per cent of rare diseases are caused by abnormalities within the patients’ genes which inevitably make accurate diagnosis and targeted treatment planning the more necessary. Moreover, personalized healthcare can also prevent potential genetic disorders from being passed down to descendants. Hence, personalized healthcare is not only beneficial to the patients but can also protect the well-being of our loved ones as well.”
As previously disclosed, personalized healthcare requires a considerable amount of personal information from patients. Therefore, the collection and access of sufficient data and medical records is the key to enhancing the patients’ overall survival rate. Sirintip Kudtiyakarn, President of the Thai Cancer Society (TCS) and co-host of the Thailand EEPO 2020 event, revealed her views on personalized healthcare as a cancer survivor as quoted, “My hope and dream as a cancer patient is for Comprehensive Genomic Profiling to become a fundamental process of treatment in the Thai public healthcare system. In particular, patient data are an extremely valuable resource when it comes to treatment because they can help patients access a more personalized treatment, which can help reduce complications and unresponsiveness to treatments, as well as increase the patients’ preparedness in handling cancer. Furthermore, rights to access big data can also help Thai medical professionals and researchers develop personalized treatments that are more specific to Thai’s genomic profiles. In the future, there may also be a reduction in the cost of treatments, which will result in the accessibility for Thai people from all social and economic statuses to receive the most effective treatment possible.”
The digital transformation for the Thai public healthcare system requires the cooperation of stakeholders from various sectors, including medical professionals, patient groups and other related organizations, both in the public and private sectors. The common goal is to enhance the research & development department, as well as to manage budget allocation and increase patient access to effective treatments in the long run. Additionally, the collection of patient data can also be used for medical purposes, especially for personalized healthcare. The main factors for comprehensive patient data management include access to a patient’s medical history, central data transfers and access between hospitals, data privacy protection and data governance.
Thanakrit Chintavara, MD, Vice Director, Government Big Data Institute stated, “Technologies are developed to help human operate and manage systems at a higher capacity. This includes the collection and organization of big data, where data are transferred to the Hospital Information System for the beneficial use of the general public and patients, as well as medical professionals, both in terms of services and enhancing the efficiency of personalized healthcare and other relevant benefits.”
“As a representative of cancer patients, I want patient groups to realize the importance of health care, recognize their right to access their information, observe and record information useful for maintaining and enhancing quality of life, as well as helping medical professionals plan better treatment options. Having said that, I would love to see the cooperation between all stakeholders from the general public, medical professionals and both the private and public sectors in helping to push the personal data security law to help facilitate the access of patient’s data in a safer and more convenient manner.” Sirintip added.
In addition to advancements in personalized healthcare, increasing the access to effective treatments is another key factor in driving the development of the public health systems in Thailand. This is especially applicable during the current COVID-19 pandemic, where access to treatments and medicines is an obstacle. This includes challenges, such as the increased risks and exposure to infection, or the mounting burden on the healthcare system. Whereby, the current healthcare crisis has catapulted telemedicine to the forefront of the medical industry; with developments of various applications and new treatment and diagnostic innovations that have played vital roles in reducing hospital time for patients – as a sure way to reduce overcrowding at hospitals.
“Telemedicine enables patients to seek online consultations and receive diagnosis with medical professionals through real time video calls. Added, there is also a delivery service for prescribed medication, aimed at enhancing patients’ convenience, in regard to savings on cost and time. Thus, increasing treatment access for patients in rural or remote areas, as well as preventing hospitals from overcrowding. That said, the use of telemedicine technology should be closely monitored, to ensure patient privacy and prevent the misuse of personal data. All stakeholders should be mindful and transparent of their data collection and management, in order to prevent any misconduct,” Dr. Thanakrit added in a closing statement.
Farid Bidgoli, General Manager, Roche Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos stated, “Our main contributions, as part of the private sector in the field of personalized healthcare are through investments in clinical trials at leading medical schools across Thailand, as well as the utilization of technology and innovation to accelerate the growth of the health system. At Roche, we are committed to delivering innovative treatments and diagnostics solutions in order to provide the most effective treatment options for patients. Furthermore, Roche will continue working closely with all stakeholders in the public and private sectors to advocate the sustainable development of the Thai healthcare system.”