Fri, 12/10/2018 - 07:25
Malaysia’s Medical Marvel
UKM Medical Centre is leading the healthcare charge across the country, powered by its technological nous and operational synergies
Writer: Jonathan Dyble
Project Manager: Callam Waller
Having gained independence from the British Empire in 1957, Malaysia has made astronomical strides in the six decades since.
According to the World Economic Forum in its Global Competitiveness Index 2017-18, Malaysia is the seventh most competitive country in the East Asia and Pacific region, ahead of China, Korea and Thailand.
Further, a report this year from the OECD has predicted that Malaysia will continue to make headway in the years ahead, forecasting an average annual GDP growth rate of 4.9 percent between 2018 and 2022, driven by a continual influx of external investment and rising domestic confidence.
However, whilst such expansive progress must be admired, there is still significant room for progression – progression that Dr Hanafiah Harunarashid, Director of teaching hospital UKM Medical Centre, is hoping to pioneer within the country’s healthcare sector.
“The concept of a teaching hospital is certainly not new, but for a relatively young country like Malaysia it has been a dream even in the early days of her independence that this former British colony will produce its own doctors to meet the needs of the people,” he says.
UKM Medical Centre itself was formed in 2008 through the merger of Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (later named Hospital Canselor Tuanku Muhriz in 2014) and the faculty of medicine at the National University of Malaysia, combined in order to gain greater operational synergies, bridging the gap between medical education, healthcare research and clinical excellence. Following a major restructuring process earlier this year, the hospital is now part of the UKM Kuala Lumpur Campus. The Kuala Lumpur Campus is the result of: the merger of four faculties (medicine, pharmacy, allied health sciences, dentistry); two institutes (UMBI and I-Hears); and two teaching hospitals under one single administrative roof, led by Pro Vice Chancellor, Professor A Rahman A Jamal.
In the 10 years since, the organisation’s status as a tertiary medical centre and the exponential growth of Kuala Lumpur have contributed substantially to its growth, now accommodating for more than half a million visits annually, both as elective and emergency cases.
“Driven by a national mandate, the Hospital Canselor Tuanku Muhriz has focused its efforts on providing both basic and specialised healthcare services, whilst also assisting its medical partner in providing the necessary clinical education environment to carry out the tasks of educating the future generation of doctors, nurses and healthcare scientists,” says Harunarashid.
“Having been very successful in our work, UKM Medical Centre as an academic healthcare institution has now grown into a full-fledged research hospital with more than a few nascent centres of excellence in clinical care, training and research.”
Ahead of the curve
A decade on, UKM Medical Centre strategically decided to demerge earlier this year into its original entities – a move that aims to enhance the potential of the campus by better integrating the centre with innovative industry techniques.
“Over the years, we have strived to ensure that we consistently implement the latest international standards, advocating evidence-based medicine and practising the latest technological and advanced care at the centre,” says Harunarashid.
“For example, in 1995 we became the first medical body in Malaysia to perform a cochlear implant, whilst in 2009 we were also the first to successfully conceive an invitro test-tube baby.”
In ensuring that this progression is maintained, UKM Medical Centre is set to increasingly tie its operations to new technologies through its health technopolis initiative. Within this, the centre is looking to open a new private hospital, featuring state-of-the-art equipment and leveraging cutting edge industry technologies to better serve its patients.
Such has seen the organisation more recently become the first centre in Malaysia to be equipped with a 3D Kinevo microscope that assists in precise spinal operations; be named one of a select few centres in Malaysia able to perform awake craniotomy, an operation that excise brain tumours; and launch the first Tissue Engineering Centre in Malaysia specialising in regenerative medicine. This has successfully produced a tissue engineered skin called ‘MyDerm’ which acts as a substitute for burns and ulcers.
“We are also heavily monitoring the advent of the fourth industrial revolution and its promises of hyper connectivity and a ubiquitous data driven work culture,” says Harunarashid. “Technology will be the lynchpin of this hospital, particularly in the way that we harness the potential of big data to improve services.”
Moreover, the centre’s restructuring programme has enabled it to reduce its waiting times by opening a new acute admission unit, allowing for a more efficient discharge process and reduced pharmacy dispensing time, amongst other things, as Harunarashid explains.
“We have recently formed a special secretariat to ensure quality assurance to audit our performances and make sure we are providing the best of care, and are looking towards an eco-friendly hospital that has seen us start a green project where heated water is generated using solar power,” he says.
This sound and diverse investment plan is reflected across the board in UKM Medical Centre’s operations, once again evident in the centre’s staff retention and development strategies.
Harunarashid admits that the organisation’s significant emphasis on providing the platform for staff progression has been key to its continual success to date, coming to be renowned as Malaysia’s biggest centre for post graduate programmes.
“We are Malaysia’s National University hospital and have the mandate of the nation to not only serve the public, but also train and produce the next generation of paramedics, nurses, doctors, specialists, and consultants, driving forward our national healthcare industry,” he states.
This outlook is prevalent in the firm’s in-house advanced surgical skills centre – a leading national training facility that offers live surgery insights, cadaveric courses, simulations, lectures and conferences.
“We are committed to bringing the best out of each and every one of our staff,” Harunarashid adds.
“We recognise that they are the driving force of the hospital and are key to us achieving excellence. We provide them with the necessary training, and collaborate with other organisations to enhance both the clinical and soft skills of our staff.”
These partnerships include UKM Medical Centre’s work with the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, an agreement that has seen the Malaysian organisation having been entrusted to host the College’s first international office.
Harunarashid continues: “This hub in our centre will enable continuous education, training and assessment programmes of this established college in Malaysia and the region.
“For us, these partnerships are crucial, both in bolstering our training techniques and expanding our evolution. We have a global network of suppliers that includes the likes of Siemens, Toshiba, Phillips, Johnson & Johnson, Karl Storz and Braun, for example, for these same reasons.”
Looking to the future
As a tertiary centre, helping to manage some of the most complex medical cases across Malaysia, UKM Medical Centre is already far ahead of the curve.
However, alongside its technological progression, the future holds a variation of exciting possibilities.
This year has already seen the centre commit to the launch of a new gym and synthetic football field within the complex in the aim of promoting a healthier lifestyle, announce the launch of the first UKM children’s hospital, set to become the first integrated children’s hospital in Malaysia, and improve public transportation to the hospital to provide better access and broaden its reach.
Continually pursuing such a wide range of informed and progressive solutions, Harunarashid hopes that the centre will succeed in achieving its long-term goals moving forward.
He concludes: “We hope to be the best hospital in the country, lead the healthcare industry in Malaysia and, if possible, become one of the top medical centres in this region.”