At a Glance
- Improved communication across all offices. Reduced cost per treatment.
- Enhanced emergency response and pandemic preparedness.
Royal Thai Ministry of Public Health (MOPH)
Connecting over 300,000 employees and 9,700 public health centres across Thailand
The Royal Thai Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) employs over 308,000 people nationwide and 9,762 public health centres in the sub-districts throughout all Thailand’s provinces. In a country of more than 67 million people, the MOPH is one of the largest government ministries, with 878 offices and operations in all 76 provinces in Thailand (outside of Bangkok), and overseeing over 20 different government healthcare agencies. In addition, the MOPH is also responsible for over 800 hospitals in several regions.
While administrating all public medical services provided to the Thai population, the MOPH also oversees a variety of offices, agencies, and bureaus. In addition, the Ministry is involved in policy planning and enforcement, education, training, insurance, and other international health agencies outside of Thailand.
Urgent need for efficient communications
An organisation of this size, complexity and structure requires a wide amount of internal and external communications, from basic meetings to mission-critical collaboration between medical staff. Being able to easily and effectively communicate among the different offices throughout all the provinces, in particular the provincial health offices, and various medical organisations and hospitals is essential in daily operations. However, for certain situations, especially in the case of meetings which required multiple participants joining from offices throughout the country, problems – practical, logistical, financial – remained. Assembling provincial team members for short meetings or even one-day conferences was often impossible for budgetary and time reasons, despite the immediate need for collaborating on various issues.
Costs for transportation, lodging and meeting venues continued to escalate, and issues that needed to be discussed were becoming more complicated, and required arrangements where all participants could see and hear each other clearly and easily wherever and whenever required.
Improved processes through video collaboration
Video collaboration was first used at the MOPH in 1995, but it wasn’t until web conferencing became available at the Ministry in 2009 that real usage picked up. Although a major advancement, there were still many limitations, such as bandwidth. Even so, it was clear that there was a vital need for high quality, enterprise-grade video and its implementation. When high quality was fully available, it would bring a necessary change in how the Ministry operated and communicated with the provincial offices.
Working with Polycom in 2012, the MOPH began the installation of Polycom® HDX® 7000 series throughout all 77 provincial public health offices and the Ministry’s Bangkok headquarters. The immediate benefits were evident: Polycom® RealPresence® Desktop solution allowed for easy adaptability and allowed employees increased access, bringing more professionals and workers from the Ministry into the video communications network.
The real value of video
Since its implementation of an enterprise video collaboration system, the MOPH has made significant cost savings, streamlined communications, increased collaboration between provincial teams, and is better equipped to bring together large groups of people to meet during emergencies and time-sensitive situations.
“From initial usage of video conferencing in 2012 of around three times a month, by 2014 it was up to at least 12 times a month, and continues to steadily grow,” “The estimated savings in just bringing one doctor in from every province for an annual meeting was over half a million Thai Baht (US$15,000). For a government ministry, the time and cost savings from video mean that we can use people, budgets, and resources far more efficiently,” says Dr Polawat Witoolkollachit, Director of Information Technology & Communication, Ministry of Public Health.
The MOPH is also looking to roll out Polycom® RealPresence® Mobile to their existing solutions, improving reach into provincial locations across employees’ smartphones and tablets.
Since implementing Polycom video solutions, the MOPH has actively used the technology for several key tasks, such as:
- Knowledge-sharing and training for provincial public health offices located in southern Thailand on responding to the MERS-Corovirus pandemic. This also included close collaboration with immigration officers for more streamlined efforts in dealing with the emergency
- Discussions on dealing with the Ebola crisis, and working with the Department of Disease Control and the Airports Authority of Thailand on the handling of any possible infected passengers
- Conferences between the health services network
- Regular and ongoing medical training for all provincial health office officials
- Preparations during the political demonstrations and turmoil in Bangkok in 2013/14 for any kind of emergency, with regular conferencing for constant updates.
With clear returns on investment and easy adoption of the system, further roll outs into the provincial health system, down to the district and sub-district levels, are now being planned.