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Interview with BusinessToday Malaysia

Dr Jillian

BusinessToday speaks to Dr Jillian Yeoh, Founder and Managing Director of IMM Carehub on her journey as an entrepreneur, challenges she has faced in the healthcare field and why she remains steadfast on her mission to raise awareness on preventive care among communities, particularly the ageing groups.

Her entrepreneurial journey to start the first lifestyle center for seniors in Malaysia began with her involvement in healthcare accreditation for hospitals and facilitating medical care for patients. It was during this time, she became acutely aware of the gaps in service offerings and quality of care available for senior citizens.

It was also a personal realisation that hit her when she was searching for suitable care options for both of her grandparents, only to find suitable options. Unfortunately, the passing of both her grandmothers further fuelled her determination to find solutions to prevent older adults from suffering in old age.

Driven by this passion and commitment, she then embarked on a journey to study gerontology while simultaneously running her business in Switzerland. This further enabled her to gain valuable knowledge and insights into the specific needs and challenges faced by seniors.

“With a deep understanding of the importance of providing a comprehensive and holistic approach to senior care, I decided to establish the first lifestyle center for seniors in Malaysia,” she says.

“My vision for this center is to offer a wide range of services and activities tailored to the needs and preferences of older adults. It will be a place where seniors can engage in meaningful social interactions, pursue their interests and receive the highest quality of care in a warm and nurturing environment. Through this venture, I aim to make a positive impact on the lives of seniors and improve the overall quality of life and independency,” she further shares on establishing IMM Healthcare and its subsidiary brand, IMM Carehub, currently located in Mont Kiara.

Dr Jillian was recently recognised with the Global Ageing Trailblazer Award at the 11th Eldercare Innovation for her efforts in the ageing care industry in the nation.

Taking on Challenges

Speaking more about her journey as an entrepreneur, Dr Jillian says it has been an exciting and transformative experience for her as it involved exploring new technologies, perspectives and experiences for the silver economy that she has never seen before in Malaysia.

As she researched and got hands-on with the ecosystem of productive ageing overseas, this became the drive behind starting her aged-care ventures in Malaysia.

“When I first started setting up a daycare facility and medical gym in Malaysia, many were not receptive toward an active ageing and preventive care concept. Along the journey, I learned to be more resilient and adaptive towards the local context, and find ways to overcome the obstacles.

“Persistence and perseverance is key as I always reminded myself this is a lifelong commitment to serve the seniors,” she said.

However, challenges were common in an industry that is rife with regulations and policies, especially ones that were decades old and may be in need of change in accordance with time.

Dr Jillian echoes that in the aged-care industry, there is a need for policy changes and the implementation of new policies that prioritise preventive healthcare for seniors. Firstly, there should be a shift towards incentivising and promoting preventive healthcare measures through policy frameworks.

This could include financial incentives for seniors to undergo regular health screenings, vaccinations, and preventive interventions. Additionally, policies should focus on increasing access to preventive healthcare services by providing subsidies or coverage for these services and interventions.

“There should also be an emphasis on educating both seniors and healthcare professionals about the importance of preventive care and the steps that can be taken to promote healthy ageing,” she shares.

This, she says, could involve the development of educational campaigns, training programmes and awareness initiatives. By prioritising preventive healthcare policies, we can work towards reducing the burden of chronic diseases, improving overall health outcomes and enhancing the quality of life for seniors in the aged-care industry. 

Dr Jillian also opines that the government and health ministry can play a crucial role in creating an ideal environment for individuals as Malaysia becomes an ageing nation. This can be achieved through several key actions.

She stresses on the need to improve aged-care infrastructure, expanding the availability of community-based services and promoting aged-care infrastructure, and to enhance accessibility and quality of care.

The Managing Director also calls for initiatives to increase public awareness and education ageing-related issues, promoting active ageing and reducing ageism within society. Collaborative efforts with industry players, she says, can complement the government’s commitment to creating an ideal environment that encompasses policy development, infrastructure improvement, education financial support and collaboration across sectors.

At IMM Carehub, raising awareness on preventive care is a vital aspect of the work both Dr Jillian and her team carries out. They believe that prevention plays a crucial role in improving health outcomes and overall well-being.

“Through educational initiatives and community engagement, we strive to empower individuals to take proactive steps towards managing their health,” she tells BusinessToday.

To date, the response from the community has been positive, with more people embracing the concept of that prevention care and expressing a keen interest in learning about strategies to maintain their health.

This growing awareness, according to her, has also created a ripple effect, as individuals share their knowledge with others, fostering a culture of wellness and prevention.

“Witnessing this positive impact of our efforts reinforces our commitment to advocating for preventive healthcare and enabling individuals to take control of their health and wellness.”

What does the future look like?

“In the remaining year, we will prioritise two key areas to achieve our goal of creating of culture of active ageing. Firstly, we will organise community events centered around lifestyle activities specifically designed to enhance the quality of life and foster social engagement among seniors,’ she says.

Secondly, both she and her team will focus on enhancing their service delivery by investing in training programmes to equip IMM Carehub’s healthcare professionals with the skills and knowledge necessary to provide top-quality care to their members.

By expanding their team of trained professionals, Dr Jillian believes she and her team can ensure that their members receive the highest standard of care and support.

With regards to partnerships and engagements, the team is actively engaging with local and international universities for research related to ageing, government bodies, private sector players, non-profit organisations and community leaders.

Earlier this year, IMM Carehub worked together with the Malaysian Research Institute on Ageing (MyAgeing) to officially launch the Physical Functional Lab equipped with an advanced rehab and exercise equipment from Finland – HUR.

The lab, setup by an ageing-based healthtech startup, IMM Healthcare, will embark its research projects by MyAgeing in collaboration with IMM Carehub and HUR. The methodology utilised in the institute has been conducted by parties at the Physical Functional Lab and IMM Carehub, and validated by HUR.  

Additionally, the Lab will also function as a centre to research ways on better managing physical fitness of seniors and to reduce the risks of age-related diseases. 

Through collaborative efforts, Dr Jillian and her team hopes to raise awareness about the importance of preventive healthcare, advocate for policy changes that prioritise senior well-being, and create accessible and inclusive services for seniors across the nation.

As for the long-term, Dr Jillian hopes for the aged-industry care industry in Malaysia to revolve around creating a comprehensive care ecosystem that prioritises the well-being of seniors.

“My hopes include a robust aged-care infrastructure with a range of care options, integration of technology and regulations. Ultimately, my goal is to ensure that seniors in Malaysia receive the support, dignity and quality of life they deserve,” Dr Jillian tells BusinessToday.

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