E-Health in Brunei


A Look At Healthcare Today

In light of the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, the global state of healthcare seems to have taken on a new form that favours the digitization of the industry through the integration of e-health.

E-health encompasses everything related to healthcare that’s carried out using digital processes and electronic communication; from tracking health records, documentation and procedures, to remote healthcare and technological advancements in data analytics, digital visits and utilising everyday technologies to further improve healthcare services.

Let’s dive deeper into the world of e-health by breaking it down into three simple categories:

Electronic health records

Real-time records made possible by digital means, an electronic health record (EHR) is the digital version of a patient’s chart. Having an EHR ensures that patients can have easy access to their medical reports that are shareable with different healthcare professionals for consultations. An EHR can contain anything from a patient’s medical history, diagnoses, to their medication, and it can also give access to tools to help healthcare professionals make informed decisions.

A great example of an EHR system is Brunei’s own ‘one patient, one record’ comprehensive information system, implemented by the Ministry of Health on 11th September, 2012.

It was a system that was designed to include all of the nation’s four government hospitals, as well as 60 health centres and clinics, making health records readily accessible to physicians and other healthcare professionals. Data analytics play a vital role in ensuring a patient gets the best care they require — to a point where the whole process has become rather consumer-centric, as the information gained is increasingly personalized according to the individual’s needs.

With how dependent an EHR is on quick, regularly updated information from the patient, perhaps there is something to be explored in the form of a two-way access; so far, the only way to get this information is through a physical visit with a doctor. But what if a patient were able to report their health status and medical data with a couple of taps, instead of waiting for that visit?


While it can be confusedly interchanged with telemedicine, m-Health, or mobile health, is primarily supported by mobile devices, personal digital assistance and other wireless devices to carry out healthcare practices. M-health applications are useful in improving the delivery of healthcare information and work in tandem with EHR systems, such as our BRU-HIMS app with the ‘one patient, one record’ system.

BRU-HIMS, short for Brunei Health Information and Management System, is aimed at integrating with the ministry’s systems that include appointments, clinical care and outpatient management. The app also allows all Bruneians and their healthcare providers to access their healthcare information record, thanks to the system’s real-time data integration and replication capabilities.

Another m-Health app that was recently created in response to the pandemic is the AI-enabled web app www.healthinfo.gov.bn, which contains published press statements related to COVID-19 from government ministries, health education resources, a feature that allows the user to see hotspot locations based on contact tracing information, an option that helps the user to find the nearest medical centre as well as a direct reporting tool.

However, there have also been initiatives taken by private bodies to create local m-Health applications to serve other needs in the healthcare industry. Nextacloud Technologies, a local IT startup developed a website and mobile application, dubbed Bloodkad, to simplify donor registration and emergency notifications for blood donations. The system digitizes the physical, seven-page written questionnaire and declaration, while also allowing its users to create profiles that are useful for repeat donors to speed up the process.

It’s imperative to remember that while the AI-enabled web app may only be useful in its current form during this particular period of time, there’s no reason why those features can’t be adapted into the current BRU-HIMS app, beyond just housing one’s health records. Following the train of thought from the EHR segment, where two-way access may be a viable option for patients to update their own records, m-Health also contains the potential capability to help users be more proactive in ensuring that the information they give also corresponds with whatever health climate we may find ourselves in.


Ever imagine you’d have a consultation with your doctor over a video call? That’s telemedicine, where health workers are able to monitor their patients remotely and provide virtual visits, opening new ways to treat patients beyond a physical visit to the doctor’s office.

Telemedicine is part of the bigger concept of telehealth, where remote clinical and non-clinical services, such as training and medical education are carried out through virtual means.

While Brunei hasn’t adopted this practice yet, the same cannot be said for a majority of countries, especially in light of the pandemic. In the United States, telehealth visits in March surged by 50%, with telemedicine providers reporting a spike in video requests numbering over 15,000 per day. On the other side of the pond, UK health start-up AccuRX sees an average of 35,000 video calls a day.

Tech adoption has undoubtedly become an essential component of e-health, but perhaps its significance is most visible to the masses when remote healthcare becomes the only feasible choice to receive this service. Despite the tremendous efforts to digitize our healthcare system, there’s always more to achieve. For one, teleconsultations is a relatively new concept, but it could also be the key to helping more people gain access to healthcare when they physically can’t make their way to a doctor’s office. It can also allow a larger number of the population to get the care they need in a shorter amount of time; as healthcare inevitably becomes more personalized and consumer-centric, the need to digitize the current healthcare system becomes abundantly clear.

Moving Forward

While e-health grew out of a need to improve the tracking of health records, documentation and procedures, it has also opened doors to explore how medical workers can offer healthcare remotely, as well as the potential for everyday technologies like smartphones to play a more critical role in digital health.

Mobile applications such as BRU-HIMS and the COVID web app are designed to empower the public to not only keep track of their health records, but to stay connected with their healthcare providers and relevant authorities. On the other hand, the MOHcares app was launched in 2018 to allow the general public to give their own feedback and recommendations regarding the health services.

Other innovations also include: the iMSAFE bracelet, which were issued to assist with tracking and monitoring recovered patients who were allowed to return home; and the BruHealth app, which aims to regulate entry into business premises or sports venues by utilising QR code scans. They allow us to make informed decisions based on the resources available, but this was only made possible because of the current situation with the pandemic.

In a time where our personal health has become a globally-contested topic, is there then a need to look at the current system and see how it can better serve our needs as patients, as individuals concerned with our health and those around us? Would it serve us better to treat the recent innovations that have been realised as temporary measures, or will they become part of a new normal that sees the evolution of Brunei’s healthcare industry, through the adoption of these emerging technologies?

What do you think? What changes do you hope to see in the digitization of our national health industry?