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Embracing the Challenge: A Clinician’s Journey into Healthcare Data Analytics

06 May 2024

I am Dr Duratul`ain Binti Mohamad Nazri. After graduating from Zagazig University, Egypt, in 2013, I was a house officer in a major specialist hospital located 540 kilometers southeast of Kota Kinabalu. During my time there, it was a non-computerised hospital setting, and the workflow and processes were typically more manual and reliant on a paper-based system. I still remember when I had to run every hour to the laboratory, which was located 250 meters away, to trace the result of the dengue patients’ full blood count.


Three years later, I was transferred to one of Malaysia’s largest and oldest hospitals. I decided to shift to research-based work after experiencing the adrenaline rush of tracing case notes and touring the hospitals for referral cases in the clinical department. Research methodology and statistical analysis are my bread and butter, and they help me be a competent medical officer in my current unit.


However, in early 2020, COVID-19 became a global pandemic. My hospital played a critical role in the country’s response to the pandemic. I was deployed to the medical department to take care of the close contact, category 1, 2, and 3 COVID-19 patients, then to the Forensic Department to manage the deceased due to COVID-19 during the delta wave.


At this point, I foresee data integration as crucial for locating, transferring, and monitoring COVID-19 patients to ensure a smooth process.

My Experience at IMU

I enrolled into the inaugural cohort of the Master in Health Informatics and Analytics (MHIA) programme at IMU, as a part-time student. Fifteen students were enrolled in September 2021 during the PKP (Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan / Movement Control Order) season. Every class was conducted virtually. I owe my utmost gratitude to the MHIA lecturers because they could conduct classes online, especially the classes that involved coding using Python and R, for students who had no basic coding knowledge.


IMU has also offered flexibility by designing a part-time study plan for me to pursue my postgraduate studies. The classes were held on weekends, so they did not affect my weekday routine as a Medical Officer. The tuition fees were based on the modules that we took for that semester.

Studying MHIA at IMU gives a unique and enriching experience for me to learn the pipeline fundamentals from data collection, management, analytics, and presentation. It provides a comprehensive curriculum covering various aspects of healthcare information technology, data analytics, and their applications, mainly in clinical practice and healthcare management.


Furthermore, I learned a lot from a different perspective through guest lecturers from various backgrounds, either from a healthcare industry company or the Ministry of Health (MOH). This initiative provided me with collaborative projects and health informatics and analytics networking opportunities.

The MHIA programme also offers a dynamic and interdisciplinary learning experience, equipping me with the knowledge, skills, and practical experience needed to drive innovation and transformation in healthcare through technology and data.

What Am I Doing Now?

I offer consultation services, mainly in data analytics, to healthcare staff in my hospital who are conducting research projects. Most of the data wrangling and analysis process are done using R software. Furthermore, I am using my expertise to advocate the fundamentals of data analytics.


For my own unit, I am improvising the registration system for any research conducted in my hospital to facilitate the administration and the researcher. In addition, I applied the knowledge I obtained from the health informatics classes to ensure that all data we collected is presented to the respective stakeholders in two different ways.


Despite my hospital not having a fully computerised system, I perform manual data analysis and visualisation using the existing systems.

My Future Plans

One of the guest lecturers highlighted the fundamentals of a successful digital health transformation in any organisation: people, systems, and equipment.


From my perspective, as a medical officer in a system that is not fully computerised, the preparedness of the healthcare staff for digital transformation and understanding the fundamentals of data analytics are crucial before focusing on artificial intelligence applications in a hospital setting. Furthermore, a hospital information system should meet the criteria for being user-friendly at any level, either administrative or clinical, so that it does not affect work productivity and becomes a burden to the staff.


Therefore, I aim to offer my hospital staff training sessions on basic concepts, best practices, and tools for effectively collecting, managing, and analysing healthcare data to build their capacity in health informatics and analytics. My next aim is to engage with the hospital stakeholders, including administrators and healthcare providers, to improve the existing workflows and processes within the hospital through streamlining data collection methods, establishing standardised documentation practices, and implementing quality control measures to ensure data accuracy and reliability for future computerisation.


I wish I could play a pivotal role in advancing the adoption of health informatics and analytics in a non-computerised hospital, ultimately contributing to improved efficiency, quality, and safety of healthcare delivery for patients and providers alike.

Advise to Future Students

Think big, start small

Digital health transformation is a long journey and can’t be accomplished in a day or after having all the necessary resources. Look around and think of something to improve the organisation’s process through digitalisation. You may begin with a single sheet in Microsoft Excel to build your rapport as a health informatician and data analyst.


Communication and practicality are essential in health informatics and data analytics. You need to convey and translate technical concepts into understandable language for healthcare providers at every level.


Health informatics requires a strong foundation in technical skills, such as database management, programming, data analysis, and information systems management. To become proficient in using technology to solve healthcare challenges, focus on developing these skills through coursework, hands-on projects, and self-study.

I hope that with these pieces of advice, we can build a strong foundation of knowledge, skills, and experiences to thrive in this exciting and rapidly evolving field.

Dr Duratul`ain’s advice for the future MHIA students – “Start small, think big. Utilise all ways to achieve your goal.

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