State of Healthcare in the Asia-Pacific region. Q&A with Luciano Brustia 

” I don’t think any other industry faces the same challenges regarding the criticality and complexity of data. In no other sector is data quality so critical – it can be the difference between life and death –yet its complexity makes it challenging to normalize data from different sources for meaningful analysis.”

Q1. You are the Regional Managing Director for the Asia Pacific region at InterSystems. What are your current responsibilities?

I am responsible for building a sustainable business for InterSystems across a dynamic, fast-growing region that ensures the success of our customers. Across the Asia Pacific region, I lead our teams to be a trusted partner for our customers – the kind of partner that empowers you to solve complex data challenges standing between you and your full potential.

Q2. How do you measure your success by working with teams across seven time zones? 

At InterSystems, we measure success through our customers’ success and how well the company works as one team with every customer to enable their success. As Regional Managing Director for the Asia Pacific region, I oversee talented, committed teams across multiple zones. Regardless of their responsibilities or division, every member of those teams knows they report to just one person: the customer.

Q3. Every customer is different. How do you manage the cultural and societal differences in the Asia Pacific region? Can you give us some examples?

I lead a unified, multicultural, multilingual team focused on helping diverse customers across the region succeed. We take the time to get to know each of our customers – no matter what their size or location – so we can gain a deeper understanding of their most complicated challenges and implement elegant solutions seamlessly.

Part of that is bringing local people and knowledge into the business for each of the territories we cover. While headquartered in the US, InterSystems is a highly diverse company, and I am surrounded by people from different countries. For example, we have native Chinese, Thai, and Bahasa Indonesian speakers working in senior roles who understand their cultures and societies and provide a bridge between InterSystems and its customers.

Another part is configuring our global solutions differently to meet the unique needs and challenges of each geographic market we serve. Take, for example, the extension to InterSystems IRIS for Health™, which we are launching in Indonesia at the HIMSS AsiaPac23 conference in Jakarta

That is built by configuring InterSystems IRIS for Health to meet the Indonesian government’s interoperability and data quality requirements for its SATUSEHAT national health data platform.  Readers can learn more here.

Q4. What are the challenges in practice to put customer success at the forefront with a multicultural, multilingual approach?

All our customers face unique challenges. Because we know that every customer is different, we focus on building close relationships and asking the right questions to solve tough problems together. In nearly 25 years with InterSystems, I’ve helped customers succeed in more than 30 countries and five continents. My philosophy is simple: Put the customer’s needs at the forefront and empower them with the world’s best technology.

Q5. Tell us more about the offering InterSystems has launched enable Indonesian healthcare organisations to connect to SATUSEHAT and drive more value from their data.

Indonesia is driving healthcare transformation by leveraging the latest HL7® FHIR® health data-sharing standard. The SATUSEHAT national health data platform promises to gather vast volumes of clean data, improving Indonesia’s population health and genomics capabilities and providing deep insights through large-scale data analytics to streamline service delivery.InterSystems IRIS for Health makes it easy for healthcare providers to capture, map, transform, route, and validate health information for SATUSEHAT. Through the extension we’ve built for Indonesia, InterSystems IRIS for Health does the heavy lifting for what would otherwise be a long and complex process. It can apply the correct medical terminology, for example, SNOMED CT, so health data is clean and ready to be shared and used.

Instead of seeing healthcare reform as a compliance issue, we believe providers should see it as an opportunity to unlock the value of their data for innovation. So, in addition to SATUSEHAT compliance, our technology enables providers to build repositories of clean, normalized data for advanced analytics. They can connect to medical devices, smart watches, mobile apps, and insurance systems, to name a few data sources. And they can gain actionable insights to improve patient care, experience, and engagement, and streamline their operations.

Q6. Last year, you traveled on a U.S. trade mission for healthcare around Southeast Asia with a five-day visit to Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam. What did you learn? 

I was struck by the advanced approaches Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam are taking. In particular, I was impressed with their knowledge of and willingness to consider a data platform approach to healthcare data sharing and interoperability.

All these countries have individual plans and approaches and are at different stages of digital health development. For example, Malaysia is deploying a national healthcare data lake around a common platform. Vietnam is planning to build a national platform for connected healthcare that includes interoperability between hospitals.

Healthcare leaders in all three countries are aware of the enormous increase in life expectancy that has accompanied rapid economic development. This has led to a higher incidence of chronic diseases and raised expectations that everyone should have access to high-quality treatment.

These are not unique perspectives or concerns to Southeast Asia. But what is distinctive is how Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam have seized on the opportunity of the pandemic to accelerate their digital health plans. No country has enough doctors and nurses to meet the healthcare challenges and increasing expectations of an older population by maintaining a traditional approach to care provision.

We all need to explore and invest in different approaches to healthcare. This includes preventative medicine to lower the incidence of conditions like type 2 diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). But we also need to adopt more modern approaches that leverage data and technology to improve access to treatment, involve patients in managing their conditions, and reduce the per-person cost to healthcare systems.

Q7. You are quoted saying, “In healthcare, analytics has been difficult because of the complexity of the data and because it is siloed in different systems.” Can you please elaborate on this?

I don’t think any other industry faces the same challenges regarding the criticality and complexity of data. In no other sector is data quality so critical – it can be the difference between life and death –yet its complexity makes it challenging to normalize data from different sources for meaningful analysis.

The need for data cleansing is not as well understood in other industries, such as retail and logistics, because they typically work with clean, real-time data. An example is a rideshare app where only data about the passenger, driver, and destination is managed. In healthcare, data is stored in different locations, standards, and formats. Data cleansing and harmonization capabilities are essential to make sense of the data and use it effectively.

For example, there are often multiple interpretations of the same diagnosis and disparate units of measurement. One of our partners identified 58 ways of recording routine white blood cell counts. There are also several names and brands for the same drug, and multiple terms and numerical codes for a medical diagnosis. Agreeing on the same syntactic structure and the correct semantic data interpretation is critical.

This is the true benefit of a data-sharing standard like FHIR. Once you get agreement on what means what, it provides a secure, real-time mechanism to share quality information to improve care. It’s a very exciting time in healthcare. We can do a lot more than we could before. In fact, we are just beginning to scratch the surface of what’s possible.


Luciano Brustia, Managing Director, APAC, InterSystems

Luciano Brustia leads Asia Pacific business operations for InterSystems. Since joining in 2003, Mr. Brustia has held a number of leadership roles in the company and been instrumental in building long-term relationships with customers and implementation partners in more than 15 countries on four continents.

Prior to joining InterSystems, Mr. Brustia worked as an implementation partner for InterSystems and as CIO for several groups of hospitals in Italy. Mr. Brustia studied Electrical Engineering at Polytechnic University of Milan and received his Master’s degree in Information Technology Management in SDA Bocconi School of Management, 1995.

Sponsored by InterSystems.


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