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Data Analytics and IoT to transform Malaysian Public Sector Service Delivery, MIMOS CEO

MIMOS Berhad acts as the principle Research and Development arm of the Malaysian Government. In its position, MIMOS looks into the potential for frontier technologies in supporting government service delivery.  

With the onset of big data analytics and increase in IoT devices, MIMOS has been looking into ways to capture data intelligently, so as to provide greater decision making tools to the public sector.

OpenGov recently spoke to Datuk Abdul Wahab Abdullah, President & CEO, MIMOS Berhad, about the impact that data analytics plus IoT will have on public sector service delivery, as well as a case study on the Malaysian Government Ministry of Health. He began by explaining the ever-increasing opportunities posed by big data.

“We are going to have millions of apps, billions of users, and many IoT devices. We must translate the data we will receive, into our decision making process,” said Datuk Abdul Wahab Abdullah.

“MIMOS’ job is to develop technology that will enable organisations to make use of these devices, translate the data into a decision, which will feed into the greater market. As the government, we talk about productivity and how you manage data in order to make people do more with the resources they have at hand.”

In discussing MIMOS’ case study from the Ministry of Health, Datuk Abdul Wahab Abdullah described the five biggest challenges in dealing with big data within the public healthcare industry.

He emphasised that many of these challenges may be recognised within other public sector organisations. These challenges being:

  • Having multiple system and databases
  • Data access and data integration issue
  • Technology lock down
  • Use of multiple technologies and systems in silos
  • Major challenges in data exchange
  • Compliance to Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA)
  • Data in different reporting formats
  • Data not harmonized and using legacy medical classifications
  • Connectivity to remote centres
  • Difficult to access teleprimary care centres

“Our challenge is how to integrate these different technologies so that data can travel seamlessly and patient privacy is ensured,” said Datuk Abdul Wahab Abdullah.

“In Malaysia, we are centred in Kuala Lumpur and some of our entities are remote, where connectivity remains an issue. In the situation of a network failure, we would resort back to paper and pencil,” Datuk Abdul Wahab Abdullah emphasised.

In addressing public sector challenges with big data, it seemed appropriate to use the healthcare industry as a model for the challenges that can be encountered with analytics.

mimos health

Datuk Abdul Wahab Abdullah explained how the Ministry of Health solved these challenges and spurred efforts to change the way they interact with data from various sources.

“This is how the Ministry of Health have set up their Data Warehouse and Ecosystem. This can be duplicated within any other ministries in the Government,” Datuk Abdul Wahab Abdullah said, “There is a flow of data using both outsourced data from Public Hospitals and Public Specialist Hospitals, along with Government Data sets.”

The reason for incorporating data sets from outside sources is simple. In order to paint a complete picture of the state of healthcare in Malaysia, it is crucial to look at data from clinics and specialists.

Datuk Abdul Wahab Abdullah explained why it was so important for the Ministry to incorporate this data, within their ecosystem.

“The reason we are looking at big data is because the first line of disease control is at the clinic. If you want to do healthcare data analytics right, you must control the data from the clinics.” explained Datuk Abdul Wahab Abdullah.

“Today, if you go to any health clinic, the system which traditionally worked in silos has been integrated into one system. We have unified the entire system into one so that when you register yourself at one clinic, you may go to any other clinic without registering again.”

It is important to not just say you are looking at data, but take the proper steps in solidifying your relationship with big data. Datuk Abdul Wahab Abdullah shared his insights on what organisations must do in order to manage their data.

“There are 3 key initial steps in embracing big data within the public sector. You must first harvest the right data. Secondly, you have to cleanse the data. Thirdly, we must focus on Harmonisation of Data sets, as some have different formats and values from each other,” explained Datuk Abdul Wahab Abdullah.

With all that has been accomplished with the Ministry of Health data warehouse, they only conquered half the battle when it comes to collecting and standardising data within Malaysia. The next step in these efforts was to prepare the data for international organisations.

UNESCO, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, is a specialised agency of the United Nations system focused on contributing to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information. UNESCO often works on promoting public health and information sharing through various initiatives.

When it comes time to send health data to international agencies, such as UNESCO, the Ministry of Health has prepared its data to make this process easier.

“We connected our database against the international critical data format. Now, the Ministry of Health can report directly to UNESCO on the state of health in Malaysia,” Datuk Abdul Wahab Abdullah proudly announced.

There is still much work in the Public Sector to be done in order to embrace data to the fullest. Datuk Abdul Wahab Abdullah and the team at MIMOS will continue to make data work for the Government, rather than the other way around. 

“Moving forward, we are looking of ways to translate data … We have three groups that always tackle the issue of big data. What happens is, we go to a Ministry and ask them what their biggest issues are. Although some may think that data scientists are the silver bullet to address this, we think otherwise,” said Datuk Abdul Wahab Abdullah, “These are the things that we do in order to tackle the analytic issues and data issues that Ministries may have.”

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