How Can We Make Malta’s Great Healthcare System Even Better?

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Though sometimes it’s hard not to complain about certain things in Malta, one thing we occasionally take for granted is our free healthcare system. It’s there for us, without judgement, ready to aid or cure most of our ailments. However, Maltese tech guru Mark Camilleri Gambin has found a way to put tech right at the heart of the local healthcare system to take it to the next level, for everyone’s benefit.

Put tech at the heart of the solution

Writing on a local news portal’s website, Camilleri Gambin paid tribute time and again to how the system currently works, however, possibly given his nature, he expressed his fantasy of what could be achieved if we made technology a core function of our health care system.

“I hypothesise that if we created a technical team purely focused on providing ubiquitous care, we can improve the effectiveness of the health system by several orders of magnitude”. The term “ubiquitous” in the tech world refers to software operating in the background without the user having to directly interact with it.

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Applied to healthcare, it could become a system that constantly works even beyond the walls of our medical facilities. Of course, the only way to achieve this is by making technology an integral part of our healthcare operation management. The first issue that can be tackled is accessing medical data.

Revamp MyHealth & make it an app

“Progress had been made in the area of digitisation with the introduction of the MyHealth portal back in 2012″, Camilleri Gambin states. “Unfortunately, it seems evident that this system does not have many active resources behind it” and “2012 is a very long time ago when it comes to technology”.

The updated version could be made into a mobile app as easy to access and use as Facebook, Camilleri Gambin explains. We could either install it on our phones and for the less tech-savvy, have a government-issued “My Health” tablet. Such a device would need to be designed specifically, but in theory, it shouldn’t be too different to the way a Kindle is specialised for reading. Focus on long battery life and ease of use, and it’s a great tool to have.

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“The MyHealth app would be your one and only own medical file, on which you can find and securely access all your centralised medical history with just a few taps on the screen,” Camilleri Gambin states.

Tackling medication, appointments & specialists

One centralised app can also serve as a one-stop spot for appointments. Camilleri Gambin cited a personal experience of his, where lack of information access and communication led to the involvement with the wrong kind of oncologist. Thankfully, there were no repercussions, but it was a close shave nonetheless.

It’s also worth noting that specialists, given their skillset, are very busy with high demand for their services. Although between themselves they might have things coordinated down to a T, for the patient it could get confusing, which is why Camilleri Gambin asks if there’s a solution to this?

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“Is there a way to distil such information into a digestible format? Could the patient perhaps benefit from a concept similar to that of an ‘Account Manager’, that is an individual dedicated point of contact for this patient? Might the ‘account manager’ better monitor the overall strategy with regards to the patient’s wellbeing?” Certainly, they’re all valid points that deserve to be discussed with a wider audience and the powers that be.

Keeping things in perspective

Having said all of the above, Camilleri Gambin reiterates that the “truth is that we’re all extremely fortunate to be born into a country where we have enough luxury and privilege to allow us to take medical services for granted”. Of course, somewhat ironically, it’s that privilege, he says, that allows people like him to allocate time towards improving what’s already great. His conclusion suggests as much.

“In my view, every little gain that we make in this area has an immeasurable impact on the quality of life for many people. Should we not strive to have the best health care system in the world? If this is not an area worth pouring the fruits of our economy into, then what is?”

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