Integrated platform development for big data in the health sector

From the perspective of Budi G. Sadikin, Minister of Health

Indonesia is estimated to be Southeast Asia’s biggest player in the digital economy. What are the challenges to encourage the reinforcement of the digital economy in the country?

Internet of Things (IoT), digitization, big data, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will affect not only health services delivery but also diagnostics. The fundamental aspect is the data. Health data needs to be standardized so that it can be easily accessed. In addition, data ownership must be clear. Aside from being owned by health facilities, each individual must also own the data. Each individual’s medical record needs to be integrated to ease health services.

Then, we will ask permission from each individual as the data owner to contribute their health data to the state, certainly with masking their personal identity. The data will be consolidated into a single database that we can provide for researchers.

We will also tidy up the health application. Currently, there are too many health applications. The government will create an integrated platform. Then, health biotechnology. In the future, health services will become more scientific, personalized, and precise. Medicines, diagnosis, and treatment could be determined by observing genes. Diagnosis will go beyond blood tests, CT Scan or MRI and instead, leveraging genes analysis to determine potential disease likelihood for each person. By having an integrated database, we can see those patterns. 

During the pandemic, the government is leveraging digital technology to track new cases, telemedicine, and monitor hospital bed availability. What are the challenges of this digital health platform?

The use of digital health applications mainly still focuses on the delivery aspect. It has been very helpful because the service is available for 24 hours, regardless of location, and medicines can be delivered directly. However, not everyone has downloaded the application. For example, there are around 12,000 cases every day in which we send telemedicine services from the Ministry, but we only get about 4,000-5,000 responses. Another issue is that some people do not understand using the application due to the user experience (UX) aspect. Based on the data, a small proportion of users stopped halfway throughout the process within the app.

As for usage outside Jakarta or Java, we will prioritize creating the platform first, hoping that the application will eventually grow in the outer regions. For instance, West Java has an excellent IT team that developed an application that can access our platform. Meanwhile, other regions that could not create an application can use our platform. They can decide whether to use our platform simplistically or make a more advanced application that can access it.

In 2021, the PeduliLindungi app was the most downloaded application worldwide. In the future, what does the government plan for this application? How can the private sector collaborate?

PeduliLindungi will integrate the entire patient experience in one application to avoid having too many platforms around. We will provide one platform for the end-users and one for the healthcare facilities. We will open the platform to everyone, including private sectors, to make it more useful. We will make regulations for those using the platform. It is as if we provide the soccer field and the soccer ball for free, but the players have to comply with the game rules and the referee.

However, we are also aware that not everyone can use this application due to gadget limitations. To address this issue, we form a special strategy. For example, not all students have the PeduliLindungi app, so we reverse the process. Instead of requiring the students to own the application, only the teachers are required to, while the students only have to bring their barcode.

How does the Ministry of Health see the development of HealthTech? What could be synergized with the Ministry of Health?

By standardizing health data and creating several platforms, be it for medicine, vaccination, hospitals, labs, we hope these startups can grow creatively by using these platforms. My message for startups is to focus not only on the health technology information aspect but also on health biotechnology. I want to invite investors to shift towards biotechnology startups. Several collaborations with HealthTech have also been carried out, and it can be beneficial if HealthTech startups could research health biotechnology and produce goods/services according to government needs.