The woman aiming to transform healthcare sector in Cambodia

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Though we now live in a digital age, it is not uncommon to see nurses handwriting information or browsing physical files on the shelf searching for information in hospitals and private clinics across Cambodia.

But with the technology that is on offer today, this is far from efficient. This is where the Peth Yoeung system, developed by First Womentech Asia, comes in.

The web-based hospital operating management system helps the hospital work flow process, ranging from patient management, health records, appointments to pharmacy, stock management, as well as income and expenses.

The system’s groundbreaking features, combined with the predominantly female team behind its design and development, are the reason why First Womentech Asia’s founder and CEO Pong Limsan won an award at Cambodia’s Women in Tech Awards as part of the inaugural Digital Cambodia 2019 ceremony.

The event, held at Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh on March 15, was one of the Kingdom’s biggest tech events to date and was organised by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

This year’s awards focused on the theme Cambodian Women for Digital Transformation, and of 36 female candidates, Limsan was awarded the Cambodian Woman ICT Entrepreneur Award for her work with First Womentech Asia.

The 39-year old was ranked among five female award winners deemed to have contributed most to the development of the Kingdom’s ICT sector.

Besides the Cambodian Woman ICT Entrepreneur Award Limsan was given, the other four categories included the Cambodian Woman ICT Engineer Award; Cambodian Woman ICT for Community Award; Digital Multimedia and Content Award; and the Girl Innovator Award.

With the growing number of women in the ICT sector, Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications Secretary of State Kan Channmeta heralded their impact: “Women play a crucial role in Cambodia’s social and economic development. In promoting tech start-ups and innovations, we have also seen more women joining steadily from year to year. We encourage more women to participate in this initiative.”

Following her win at the Cambodia’s Women in Tech Awards 2019, Limsan tells The Post of the pride she feels about the achievement.

“I’m proud for a few reasons that. First, Womentech Asia helps women to take part in improving Cambodia’s health care sector through knowledge of information technology. Second, we provide solutions to women entrepreneurs in the ICT sector. Third, we help develop the public and private sectors in the health care industry,” she says.

Limsan received a Master’s in IT and Computer Science from the Royal University of Phnom Penh in 2006.

She worked for a decade as a database specialist, web content manager and IT consultant for the Ministry of Health and Asian Development Bank, before founding First Womentech Asia with her husband in May 2013.

“With the support of my co-workers and family, I decided to introduce Peth Yoeung to a broader audience. The Cambodia’s Women in Tech Awards will help change society’s conception of women in tech,” Limsan says sitting in her Phnom Penh office in Toul Kork district’s Teok Laak III commune.

Her company’s mantra is to encourage more women to work in IT, but Limsan says finding female staff to join her team is not easy.

“It is hard to find women to join our IT team. Personally, as a woman myself, it is hard to balance my time on my career and family. It is a general problem that many women are facing, especially in the IT sector,” she says.

Regardless, Limsan employs a team of mostly female IT engineers, developers, coders and designers.

Limsan’s inspiration for the Peth Yoeung system came after she had a bad experience when taking her children to the hospital, as she had to wait a long time while the staff searched for their patient records.

“The traditional way of operating a hospital is not effective. People who come from the province will have to bring their records. If they forget them or they are lost, they will have to go back to the province or else they will need to through repetitive testing,” the entrepreneur and mother of two from Kandal province says.

While similar IT led systems have been in place in all hospitals for many years in wealthier nations, Limsan says the Peth Yoeung system is still only used in approximately 70 hospitals and clinics in Cambodia. The rest still operate low-tech filing systems.

“We provide hospital management systems at different levels and platforms, both online and offline. We manage electronic medical records, pharmacy stock management, inventories, accounting, insurance, reports and human resources,” Limsan says.

The system, Limsan says, makes the process easy and transparent when a patient has to pay a set amount for a certain treatment. But she says it is difficult to sign up hospitals and clinics as clients.

“It takes some time to explain to our clients so that they can understand the benefit of using the Peth Yoeung system for the growing and improving the accuracy of their health services,” she says.

The costs associated with the Peth Yoeung system are dependent on the scale of the operation in the hospital, but First Womentech Asia also offers special rates for charitable services and NGOs.

Limsan says the profits are funnelled back into research and development.

“We pay attention to the quality of our services, earning our client’s confidence and consumer trust. We update our system with new features to keep up with the quickly developing world of technology. We have to have good cooperation with our IT partners, both governmental and NGOs, to promote the health sector,” she says.

Despite obstacles, Limsan believes that her woman-led team will help build Cambodia’s healthcare system.

“We hope that Peth Yeung will become the leading hospital management system in Cambodia, as well as in Asean. We’re also hoping to add online healthcare and research platforms for students and the public to seek medical services on their own,” she says.

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