Special Ministers’ Conference for ASEAN Digital Public Health
In October 2021, a special ministerial conference with numerous speakers took place in Singapore on the central importance of intra-regional and multisectoral cooperation in strengthening the ASEAN health sector. The event culminated in the unveiling of EVYD Technology EVYD knowledge center – a community platform that aims to involve and network stakeholders in the field of public health – and shows its commitment to promoting cooperation and scientific policymaking in ASEAN. Chua Ming Jie, Chief Executive Officer at EVYD Technology, provided an in-depth look at how technology can really transform the healthcare industry and create better access for the disadvantaged or marginalized.
Why was the conference organized and what were the main lessons learned from the event?
The conference was organized to bring together ASEAN leaders including health, finance and economics ministers, policy makers, researchers and public health thought leaders to share their knowledge and perspectives on the current pandemic, which continues to have a significant impact on the world economic recovery has the ASEAN countries today. In addition, the public health pressures on frontline workers and resources, the rise of a rapidly aging population and the rise in chronic diseases in the region increase the urgency for leaders to enlist and develop viable and sustainable solutions to improve our future health systems. Under the motto “Working together for a happier and healthier world after the pandemic”, the aim of this year’s conference was to promote intra-regional cooperation and ultimately stimulate discussions on how we can build resilient health systems that can withstand future public health emergencies .
Several key insights shared during the two-day conference included the importance of adopting and integrating new technologies and big data to make our healthcare systems more efficient; the need for open collaboration between various national governments and stakeholders to improve the region’s collective response to future emergencies; the crucial role that community engagement and public surveillance play in establishing an early warning system for emerging pandemics; and the importance of public health funding in research, which serves as a long-term investment that helps improve patient and health outcomes.
What important trends, opportunities or challenges do you see for the future healthcare industry?
Public health is a highly complex sector involving multiple stakeholders at all levels, but there are several important trends that we believe will continue to evolve.
First, the digital acceleration will continue to transform traditional offline industries like healthcare. While the adoption of technology and the use of big data are not a new concept, COVID-19 has certainly increased the need for such solutions to create efficient health systems that meet the diverse needs of citizens.
Second, we expect and hope that we will encourage greater collaboration between the private and public sectors and various stakeholders in the health sector. As this conference has shown us, sharing knowledge is key to jointly improving the region’s health system. In order to respond effectively to public health crises, different health actors need to work together at international, multilateral and regional levels, and we hope that this conference will be a crucial first step in moving that cooperation forward. As part of our commitment, we officially launched several initiatives during the event:
- EVYD Knowledge Hub – our centralized community platform aimed at engaging and connecting public health stakeholders in the region to share their knowledge and ideas
- Immunogenicity of COVID-19 vaccines and levels of the neutralizing antibody SARS-CoV-2 in the Brunswick population – a joint study in collaboration with the Ministry of Health in Brunei Darussalam, the Duke-NUS Medical School, the Universati Brunei Darussalam and the Temasek Foundation
- A rumor monitoring platform in collaboration with Brunei Darussalam under the ASEAN Emergency Operations Center to help the ASEAN region more easily capture data to feed into a regional early warning and warning system for outbreaks
How important are big data and the adoption of technology in transforming our health systems?
As mentioned earlier, the adoption of technology and the use of big data are no stranger to the game, and they have been fundamental to transforming the way traditional offline industries like healthcare work into a new normal. COVID-19 and the long-standing problems related to the strain on healthcare workers and resources, an aging population and the rise in chronic diseases in our region have increased the urgency of national governments to use these solutions to improve the efficiency of our health systems.
At EVYD Technology, we believe that scientific research resulting from the use of big data is extremely important in healthcare. We know there is a wealth of data out there, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak when we saw a data explosion as national governments began collecting and analyzing public data on exposure risks. This leads to a central question: How do we use it to optimize sharper knowledge, to initiate more targeted measures and measures to contain the spread of the virus? Once we have these insights, we can use them to better inform policymakers to advance results-oriented, accurate health care that ultimately benefits citizens and patients.
From this perspective, technology and big data are essentially tools that enable efficient delivery of services on a large scale, and they can potentially help reduce health spending by redirecting those funds into improving our digital health infrastructure.
EVYD technology & EVYD knowledge center
What is the problem or problem that EVYD Technology and the EVYD Knowledge Hub are trying to solve in the healthcare industry?
Time is of the essence in the healthcare industry – and we are seeing this during the COVID-19 and recent Delta variant outbreaks. Therefore, our primary role at EVYD Technology is to meet these needs for timely data that will help influence decision-making and policy-making to achieve better health outcomes for citizens. Therefore, we proactively work with national governments and health researchers to extract actionable insights from the data collected to produce results in the real world.
However, one of the possible problems that can arise is that national governments and private organizations may not be as receptive to data sharing and selectively withhold data in order to safeguard political and economic interests. To address this, the conference highlighted the need to build intraregional trust between various stakeholders in the ASEAN region to enable real knowledge sharing and collaboration for our health systems to thrive. For this reason we also decided to set up our community arm – EVYD Knowledge Hub – to lead this collaborative aspect.
What plans does EVYD Technology have in the region for the next five years?
This conference was the first of our many initiatives.
Over the next five years, our vision for growth includes strengthening our data processing capabilities so that our partners can gain more securely, efficiently, and more accurately insights from their data. We will use techniques like federated learning to enable collaborative learning on a large scale.
We also plan to enter into more strategic collaborations with health professionals and researchers to leverage their knowledge and expertise and translate it into actionable insights that can produce measurable results in practice.
After all, we strive to keep applying our expertise and solutions to solve more real problems. This time around, we started responding to pandemics and quickly expanded to infectious disease surveillance, followed by population health management and digital therapeutics. In the long term, we also want to enable value-based care for patients. This is going to be an exciting journey and we believe we are on the right track to get there.
Hithaishi C Bhaskar