The Business Year

Dato’ Seri Dr. Mohd Azhari Yakub

CEO, National Heart Institute (IJN)

Tan Sri Dr. Yahya Awang

Chairman, Cardiac Vascular Sentral Kuala Lumpur (CVSKL)

With heart diseases becoming the number-one cause of morbidity and mortality across the world, Malaysia's cardiac centers are leading the way in the region.

What was the vision behind the opening of CVSKL in 2017?

TAN SRI DR. YAHYA AWANG The country needed a heart center where we could service not only the people of Malaysia, but also those in the surrounding region. The opportunity came when an investor wanted to open a private hospital with heart surgery facilities in partnership with doctors. CVSKL opened in 2017 to focus on heart and vascular diseases. I was fortunate, thanks to my long sojourn in the healthcare industry, to fulfill my aim of bringing many of the leading clinicians under one roof, providing the necessary service and contributing to the national economy. Gathering the leading cardiologists and cardiac surgeons in the country has arguably made us one of the leading heart hospitals in this region.

How do you assess IJN’s contribution to the development of human capital in Malaysia?

DATO’ SERI DR. MOHD AZHARI YAKUB We have been operating for 26 years and have become the nexus of excellence in medical healthcare, especially in cardiac services, not only in Malaysia but also the region. Cardiology departments in medical centers in Penang, Malacca, and Kuala Lumpur receive many foreigners and are run by the people who we trained. We have trained more than 180 foreign doctors from Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Japan, and we are beginning to receive doctors from the Middle East and the UK. Those who come to work with us face a steep learning curve. It is normal for us to see 15 heart operations in one day; only a handful of centers in Europe have that kind of volume.

What are the most important trends and developments transforming the healthcare sector?

YA One important trend in healthcare is digitalization and IT, which has improved tremendously over the past 10 years. We are in the progress of completing the implementation of electronic medical records (EMR) in our hospital. It will take a while for doctors to get used to it, though this will provide the impetus for us to grow further—not only in cost, but also technological advancement. Regarding cardiac care, there have been important innovations and developments, such as surgery for a beating heart, which is practical for elderly patients. We also have newer methods in terms of repairing and putting valves. Valve technology has improved in terms of the hemodynamic functions of the valve itself.

MAY IJN is embarking on a transformation in healthcare technology and will be fully electronic by next year. We are investing heavily in healthcare technology with electronic medical records (EMR) and hospital information systems. IJN is now moving to the next stage. Our ambition is to be able to do analytics on our patients, using the information from our call center and social media to understand our patients’ thoughts and complaints. It is no longer about medical technology but how we can leverage big data using patient analytic research. The EMR hospital information system allows us to digitalize our processes as much as possible so that we can have full data analytics covering clinical care, research, hospital finances, and our patient needs and services.

What are the most important growth catalysts for medical tourism in Malaysia?

YA We need more specialized hospitals like CVSKL. I would welcome a specialized oncology hospital or one catering to diabetic patients. We could also have orthopedic centers, and all these would contribute toward the growth of medical tourism. There are tax incentives available if we receive foreign patients beyond 5% of our workload, and we are already at around 10%. The main source market for international patients coming to CVSKL is Indonesia, and we have also started to receive patients from Bangladesh and China. Together with our partners TE Healthcare and TPG, we hope to form and build established centers of excellence in many capital cities throughout Southeast Asia.

MAY Malaysia is naturally suited for medical tourism because of its geographical location and multinational and multicultural society. We have highly skilled medical personnel, so we need exposure to send the right message of having a flagship medical care service. The government has identified cardiology as one of the key specialties, and we are well suited to be the flagship of cardiology care since we are recognized among our peers in this region. It is about translating that to make sure the Asia Pacific region knows this. We are ready and will work closely with the government to translate the vision of IJN and Malaysia as a medical destination.



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