BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei residents will soon be able to book medical appointments and access their health records through the BruHealth mobile app, the government announced in a press conference on Thursday.

Four new features will be added to the app from next week as the government seeks to transform healthcare delivery using artificial intelligence.

The app was originally launched as a contact tracing app back in May amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new features include booking a consultation with doctors via video call and making online payments, said health minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad Isham Hj Jaafar.

He said gaining access to health records will allow BruHealth users to better understand their disease diagnosis, check the tests that had been administered, while medicine prescribed by public and private clinics will also be listed.

“Users can make advanced bookings and they no longer need to turn up early to see a doctor or fight for slots at hospitals and government clinics,” he added.

Long waiting times to see a doctor or seek treatment can be avoided when BruHealth users make online appointments, the minister said.

The app also enables users to book an appointment with allied health professionals such as dietitians.

“This doesn’t mean everyone will be required to make online appointments, some slots will be reserved for walk-ins as some people might not be able to use the online services,” said YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham.

The new system will be rolled out in stages, with Jubli Perak Sengkurong Health Centre designated as the first healthcare facility to use the features beginning next week.

Second Finance and Economy Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah said 436,047 Brunei residents — representing 94.8 percent of the Brunei population — have registered on BruHealth since it was introduced on May 14.

The government made it compulsory for all Brunei residents to use the smartphone app from September 7.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin said the digital platform will be able to help Bruneians improve their health management.

“The system uses AI to predict infection rates and conduct medical resource mapping, which assists in more effective planning, especially the provision of healthcare infrastructure and drafting of public health policies,” he added.

Describing the system as the future of healthcare, YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said using AI will be able to raise the quality and efficiency of healthcare services in Brunei.

“We’re [aiming] for value-based care and to reduce the risk of chronic diseases,” he said.

Non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart diseases and diabetes accounted for 44 percent of deaths in 2018.