Experts from established healthcare organisations met in Kuala Lumpur late last month to share experiences about their efforts to improve healthcare.

They gathered at the International Forum on Quality & Safety in Healthcare, which was held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on Aug 24 to 26.

The forum was jointly organised by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in the United Kingdom and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in the United States, both of which are internationally recognised not-for-profit organisations.

The forum has a 23-year history. Its mission is to support “the movement for healthcare improvement”.

The vision of the forum is to improve outcomes for patients and communities; provide practical ideas that can be implemented in the workplace; build coalitions to inspire understanding between healthcare organisations; promote research into quality and safety improvement; foster effective innovation; gather the evidence needed to support local improvement; connect healthcare leaders and practitioners worldwide; and translate concern about the quality and safety of care into effective action.

The local strategic partners of the forum were the Academy of Medicine of Malaysia (AMM) and the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH).

The high-quality programme was developed by the BMJ and IHI, with the assistance of the forum’s International and Local Programme Advisory Committees, AMM and MSQH.

It provided relevant learning; greater insight into quality improvement and patient safety principles and initiatives; and an opportunity for everyone involved in healthcare to learn from, and share experiences with, internationally recognised experts and their local and international colleagues.

The forum was officiated by Perak Ruler Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, who drew attention to the fact that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are posing major challenges to healthcare systems in Malaysia and globally.

The marked improvements in the health status of many developing countries due to rising incomes and economic growth is now being undermined by increasing longevity, deteriorating diets, and greater exposure to other NCD risk factors such as pollution, urbanisation and unhealthy behaviours, as part of these same factors in the processes of development.

The challenges of NCD require very different and far more complex responses than those of the past.

As the infrastructure and healthcare workforce of Malaysia and many countries were not developed to provide the complex care required for the prevention, treatment and control of NCDs, a major transition had become necessary.

There were keynote sessions by renowned leaders in patient safety and quality.

IHH Healthcare Bhd chairman and former Health director-general Tan Sri Abu Bakar Suleiman reviewed the “Quality, Patient Safety and Performance of the Malaysian Healthcare Delivery System” since Merdeka.

Recent studies have reported that our system had performed less well since 2001, compared to traditional peer countries.

The healthcare transformation since the 1980s needed to be given a push to adequately address the current and future healthcare challenges.

IHI CEO Derek Feeley spoke on “Breaking the Rules for Better Care”.

He described the identification of some of the rules that were in the way of better patient care in North America and Europe, and explored the creation of energy and innovation to meet Asia’s quality and safety challenges of the future.

iflix Malaysia CEO Azran Osman Rani spoke on “Defying Convention: Innovating New Models for Emerging Markets”.

Each model requires mindsets around courage, focus, speed and agility and building a work culture founded on learners rather than knowers, communication, feedback and sprint rhythms.

Former IHI CEO Donald Berwick spoke on “Improving Quality as A Strategy in the New Era of Care”.

With public and private healthcare systems worldwide increasingly stressed by demographics, chronic diseases, technology and economic uncertainties, he addressed the question: “Can science-based improvement provide an adequate response to the need for change of healthcare’s role in society?”

Neuroscientist, medical doctor, world record holder and Paralympian Dr William Tan spoke on “The Power of Discontent”.

He discussed his personal journey as an empowered patient, using resilience and reinvention to scale greater heights in the face of adversity.

There were five conference streams: Safety; Quality, Cost, Value; Person and Family Centred Care; Population and Public Health; and Building Capability and Leadership, with 35 main sessions delivered by more than 40 international and local speakers.

An innovation at the forum was a rapid-fire lunchtime session on the impact of technology on healthcare, which included the application of social movement thinking to healthcare improvement; technology and medication safety; and healthcare at the fingertips.

There were experience visits to Sunway Medical Centre and Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah in Selangor, and the National Heart Institute and Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital in Kuala Lumpur; in-depth mini-courses on quality improvement (basic and advanced); and a leadership mini-course for students at the University of Malaya Faculty of Medicine.

During the forum, the World Health Organization held a policy roundtable on “Strengthening Quality in Healthcare To Leave No One Behind”. Its report was presented at the forum.

The participants at the Forum included doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals; policymakers; CEOs; directors of hospitals and other healthcare facilities; managers; patient advocates and groups; and people with interests in healthcare.


Dr Milton Lum, a past president of the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners Associations, Malaysia, and the Malaysian Medical Association, was the co-chair of the Programme Advisory Committee. The views expressed do not represent that of any organisation the writer is associated with. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.