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Bridging the Gap between Healthcare, Research, and Technology

04 Jun 2024

The revolution in healthcare technology is in its infancy, driven by digital transformation, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, cloud computing, and big data. Simultaneously, telemedicine, remote care, and electronic health records (EHRs) are rapidly evolving. The process has even been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in the recent years. However, there remains a significant gap between healthcare and technology that demands attention.


Featuring this topic, the Institute for Research, Development and Innovation (IRDI) of the IMU University had successfully organised the 2024 Next Generation of Care: Merging Healthcare and Technology Conference and Workshop on 2 May 2024 at Mranti Park, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur. The one-day conference was also organised in conjunction with the International Undergraduate Medical Research Conference (IUMRC) 2024. The conference proved to be engaging, drawing in a remarkable turnout of 350 registered participants.


IMU University has signed a memorandum of agreement with the Swiss Digital Pathology Consortium (SDIPATH) for the transfer and sharing of technology, expertise and experience for research and potential approaches to overcome the challenges of implementing digital pathology in Malaysia.

We are very grateful to be able to invite the president of SDIPATH, Professor Inti Zoblec as a Visiting Research Professor to IMU. In addition, IMU also signed a memorandum of understanding with University of Bern, Switzerland where Prof Inti has successfully implemented the digital pathology workflow at the Institute of Pathology, Switzerland. This collaboration will greatly elevate IMU research endeavours to new heights and foster interdisciplinary experience sharing with pathologists on digital pathology.

Numerous prominent players from the technology industry participated actively in the panel discussion, policy dialogue and exhibition, showcasing cutting-edge innovations and solutions. Adding to the prestige of the occasion, Tunku Ali Rethauddin ibni Tuanku Muhriz,  Chairman of IMU Group, honoured the event with his presence, taking the time to visit various booths.

Notably, among the exhibitors was Vidanex Sdn Bhd, the pioneering startup founded by IMU faculty member, A/Prof Dr Elaine Chan. Vidanex is at the forefront of AI-assisted digital pathology diagnosis and is spearheading the development of several AI applications in collaboration with MOH, marking a significant advancement in healthcare technology.

The conference started with the opening remarks delivered by Prof Dr Abdul Aziz, Vice-Chancellor of IMU University. Subsequently, the Director-General of Health Malaysia, Yang Berbahagia Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassam delivered the keynote address titled “Merging Healthcare and Technology: The Next Generation of Care”.

A comprehensive overview of the policy direction set forth by the MOH and the government was delivered, highlighting their commitment in leveraging technology to improve both the quality and accessibility of healthcare services.


The plenary sessions featured distinguished speakers from various corners of the globe, each offering unique perspectives and insights into the intersection of healthcare and technology. Ellina Roslan, representing MyDigital Corp, delivered an illuminating presentation that delved into the intricacies of digital transformation in healthcare, shedding light on innovative strategies and initiatives in driving Malaysia’s digital agenda forward.

Prof Inti Zlobec, hailing from the University of Bern, captivated the audience with her expertise in digital pathology, offering valuable insights into the latest advancements in AI and machine learning for personalised healthcare approaches. Her presentation provided a glimpse into cutting-edge research and technology-enabled solutions that promise to revolutionise patient care and treatment outcomes.

Meanwhile, Prof Catarina Eloy, from the University of Porto, Portugal brought a global perspective in sharing her extensive knowledge and research findings of the digital pathology transformative field for enhancing the accuracy, efficiency, and scalability of diagnostic processes, ultimately improving patient outcomes and advancing precision medicine initiatives. Her presentation explored the transformative potential of big data and artificial intelligence in healthcare, highlighting emerging trends, challenges, and opportunities shaping the future of healthcare delivery and management.

Together, these plenary lectures enriched the conference experience, offering attendees a diverse range of perspectives and expertise to inspire innovation, collaboration, and actionable insights in advancing healthcare through technology adoption.

Interactive panel discussion moderated by Prof Gerard George with four eminent panelists: Datuk Dr Nor Fariza Binti Ngah (Deputy Director General of Health Malaysia (Research & Technical Support), Distinguished Prof Datuk Dr Looi Lai Meng (Consultant anatomical pathologist, Universiti Malaya), Prof Dr Inti Zlobec (University of Bern, President of SDIPATH, IMU Visiting Research Professor) and Dr Helmi Zakariah (CEO, Artificial Intelligence in Medical Epidemiology).

A Panel Discussion titled “Lost in Translation – The Valley of Death Across Preclinical and Clinical Divide” moderated by Prof Dr Gerard George, Group Managing Director of IMU University followed by two concurrent workshop sessions by Next Gene SDN BHD: 10X Genomics and Biomarketing Services SDN BHD / Tissuegnostics.  The Panel Discussion served as a catalyst for dialogue and collaboration, inspiring stakeholders to forge synergies and overcome challenges in translating research into impactful healthcare solutions. By fostering a collaborative ecosystem that leverages the strengths of academia, industry, and government, Malaysia can accelerate the journey from research innovation to real-world impact, ultimately enhancing healthcare delivery and outcomes for the nation.


The conference ended with IRDI 5th Policy Dialogue Series, which centered on the theme of Integrating Digital Diagnosis in Clinical Practice. This pivotal discussion was moderated by Prof Datuk Dr Looi Lai Meng, consultant anatomical pathologist from Universiti Malaya and brought together a diverse panel of experts representing academia, the tech industry, MOH, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the healthcare industry, and healthcare providers. Notably, the esteemed panel was led by Tan Sri Abu Bakar Suleiman, Chancellor of IMU and former Director-General of Health.


During the dialogue, it was unanimously acknowledged that the groundwork for integrating digital diagnosis into clinical practice has already been laid through existing policy frameworks such as the Telehealth Blueprint (1997), the Health White Paper (2023), the National Artificial Intelligence Roadmap 2021 – 2025 and the government’s AI for Rakyat initiative (2024). The consensus among participants was that the focus should shift towards developing an implementation framework tailored to MOH facilities and establishing quality standard guidelines. These guidelines are essential to provide clear direction for end-users, industry stakeholders, and regulators, fostering confidence in the market and ensuring the seamless integration of digital diagnosis technologies into healthcare practices.


Aligned with IMU University’s visionary stance, the conference symbolised a commitment to championing health equity and enhancing quality of life on a global scale through a multifaceted approach centred on excellence in education, research, and innovation. At the heart of IMU’s vision lies a dedication to holistic learning and the cultivation of global partnerships to empower a diverse array of professionals, scholars, and policymakers. The conference served as a powerful testament to the university’s leadership in realising this vision, as it provided a platform for fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among faculty and students alike.


Through collaborative endeavours and forward-thinking initiatives, IMU University continues to shape the future of healthcare, championing inclusivity, equity, and excellence every step of the way. As a leader in the field, IMU University remains steadfast in its commitment to nurturing the next generation of healthcare leaders, innovators, and change-makers, thereby contributing to a better world for generations to come.

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