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Championing Regional Digital Healthcare Transformation: The Case of Indonesia

This article was written by Andy Fernanda Probotrianto
Asthe world embarks on its journey into the digital age, technological advancements have become the driving force behind transformative changes in nearly every aspect of our lives, with no exception to the healthcare sector. The dissemination of digital technology has made significant changes in improving patient care, streamlining healthcare processes, reducing costs, and promoting overall health and well-being.

This is particularly evident in the Southeast Asian region. As noted by Deputy Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC), Ekkaphab Phanthavong, the region has experienced first-hand how digitalisation enabled ASEAN Member States to be more nimble and adaptive to the COVID-19 pandemic. It empowers healthcare providers and patients by providing easy access to critical information and services.

However, ensuring equity in this development across the region remains a challenge. While some countries have transformed into regional hubs for healthcare, others still struggle to meet the ever-increasing demand for quality care and services. Therefore, it’s imperative for collective and concerted action to take place to ensure that healthcare remains a fundamental human right accessible to all.
Initiating Digital Healthcare Transformation
Indonesia is amidst the one that is currently undergoing the path of digital health transformation. In recent years, it has unveiled its first digital health blueprint, laying the groundwork for the country’s digitalization of health services to expand inclusive healthcare coverage for its 270 million people. This, among others, was discussed during the Site Visit of Global Future Fellows: Advancing Southeast Asia’s Predictive Healthcare to the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) of the Indonesian Ministry of Health (MoH) on 4 October 2023.
Image 1. Chief of DTO (Digital Transformation Office) MoH (Ministry of Health), Republic of Indonesia, Setiaji, Speaking in front of Global Future Fellows during the Site Visit Session to DTO MoH, Republic of Indonesia (Photo by Pijar Foundation)
A group of 40 fellows from six ASEAN nations had the unique opportunity to engage in private discussions with the ministerial body. These dialogues explore the current challenges, primary goals and long-term vision of the Indonesian digital health transformation. Furthermore, they also seek to learn the strategies implemented by the DTO in ensuring and leveraging collaborations with other government bodies, private sector entities, and international organisations.

Since its inception in 2021, DTO MoH in Indonesia has proactively developed an integrated digital health service platform to streamline healthcare processes and enhance overall efficiency. It tries one key issue that still haunts national healthcare: information management. The country has long suffered from data fragmentation as sources are largely decentralised. Different sources implement different standards and lack harmonisation.

Additionally, there has been no sufficient surveillance system that can track information change in real-time. Critical information such as the number of healthcare human resources and financing data are often duplicated or not well-registered. As a consequence, this impedes the monitoring process of the current healthcare landscape, as well as the effort to respond with precision.

However, with the current building of the DTO MoH’s flagship initiative — Satu Sehat Super App — it is expected that the status quo will change. Derived from the COVID-19 tracking app, PeduliLindungi, SatuSehat Platform integrates medical information from various health platforms into a single unit that is uniform in its format and exchange protocol. As noted by the Chief of DTO MoH, Setiaji, Satu Sehat will transform the experience of healthcare service and delivery to be more simplified and convenient for patients, as well as for the health workers. The tedious task of storing and obtaining healthcare data can now be done using this integrated platform, which implements a common standard for all its users.

One ongoing major project of Satu Sehat is the integration of nationwide medical records into the platform. DTO MoH is currently working with 9000 healthcare facilities and hospitals across the country in doing so. It is hoped that all the data can be gathered and the medical record feature can be used by December 2023.
Way Forward for Regional Transformation
While Indonesia is still on its way to accomplishing a harmonised digital transformation in its healthcare sector, it clearly offers valuable insights and lessons that other ASEAN countries can learn from.
Image 2. Fellows of Global Future Fellows 2023: Advancing Southeast Asia’s Predictive Healthcare at DTO MoH, Republic of Indonesia (Photo by Pijar Foundation)
By examining the case of Indonesia’s digitalization, with the challenge of its archipelagic and socio-culturally diverse nature, fellows are illuminated not only in how to incorporate technological innovation into healthcare but also how to do so by paying attention to the unique local context. One fellow notes how Indonesia is able to accelerate its healthcare transformation and how Satu Sehat could potentially be a super-system that can be a model for other Southeast Asia countries.

The 2023 Global Future Fellow (GFF) with the theme “Advancing Southeast Asia’s Predictive Healthcare” is a collaboration with the Unilab Foundation (ULF) and the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC). Pijar Foundation extends its greatest appreciation to all collaborators, fellows, and supporters for contributing to the success of this site visit.
This article is written by Maria M. Wijaya and Andy F. Probotrianto,

Edited by Cazadira F. Tamzil & Anthony M. Dermawan
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