Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Economy

Digital acceleration in Philippine healthcare

Latest innovations, initiatives shaping healthcare highlighted during BusinessWorld Insights

While technology has been improving the delivery of service in hospitals and healthcare facilities, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has further deepened the value of innovation in healthcare.

Telemedicine, for instance, was further utilized as an alternative to face-to-face appointments. Diagnoses, meanwhile, are effectively performed even outside the doctor’s office through devices enhanced with connectivity features.

These advancements and much more were highlighted during a recent BusinessWorld Insights online forum themed “Digital Care: Health Tech Trends in 2021,” the first of the two-part online series titled “The Impact of Technology on the Healthcare Sector.”

Digital health interventions

Dr. Enrique Tayag, Director IV of the Knowledge Management and Information Technology Service at the Department of Health (DoH), recognized that the pandemic has opened opportunities to consider digital health interventions to address the gaps revealed within the health sector. 

These interventions, the DoH official shared, include those for patients (e.g., telemedicine); for healthcare providers (e.g., electronic medical records); for health systems (e.g., “Kira Kontra COVID” chatbot; and for data services (e.g., unified enterprise architecture).

Such interventions, Dr. Tayag continued, aim to address gaps involving access to service delivery, supply of commodities, adherence to clinical guidelines, access to information, and access to the services themselves.

“Where choices are made by health providers for their patients, these digital health interventions restore the balance so that choices from patients themselves are on equal footing with the choices the health providers would provide their patients,” the DoH official later stressed.

Dr. Tayag noticed as well that the healthcare sector should deal with apparent cultural barriers, especially among those who are not yet comfortable with technology.

“Their options were to take care of themselves, get advice from others, and make use of social media,” Dr. Tayag observed about these individuals, “but they will be at risk for making wrong decisions. So, they have to reach out to a professional, [and] telemedicine provides them with this platform.”

Equity in the access to these interventions must be ensured so that those who might have difficulty in accessing these may not get left behind, he added.

Telemedicine as ‘force multiplier’

Ron Estrella, country manager of Medgate Philippines, shared how telemedicine has been appreciated as a solution that has been helpful to the Philippine population.

Mr. Estrella observed from their company’s experience that telemedicine “has come to the forefront of people’s minds” as a viable way to get medical care without being exposed to communicable diseases. 

The country manager also shared that over the past year, their company has seen increased demand by about 170%.

“Teleconsultations delivered to Filipinos from anywhere at any time is a great force multiplier in a situation where we don’t have enough doctors and frontliners,” Mr. Estrella said.

Far from replacing physical services, telemedicine should be viewed as complementary or in a “synergistic relationship” with existing healthcare infrastructure and personnel, Mr. Estrella stressed.

“70%-80% of our customers don’t ever have to see a doctor face to face because their condition can be treated through telemedicine… Now, they won’t clog up medical facilities,” he explained. “It will allow the actual physical facilities and doctors to deal with the conditions they really have to deal with.”

With this increased acceptance of telemedicine, nonetheless, Mr. Estrella sees a challenge in improving the experience of patients with this tool.

“It is incumbent upon us in the technology field and people who implement public strategy that we make the impact on the end-user as light as possible — that for them it is something they’re used to,” he said.

For telemedicine and telehealth to grow further, Mr. Estrella continued, more doctors and frontliners are needed to further provide healthcare.

“Once we have more doctors, then they can leverage on the platforms and the technology that we have,” he said, adding that affordable high-quality internet bandwidth is likewise vital to make this happen.

Mr. Estrella also regards advances in AI as a key growth driver as it takes over “the job of the mundane [in order] to allow our personnel to handle the more complex and complicated.”

Remote care

Juan Miguel Tan, president and managing director of Siemens Healthineers Philippines, noticed that while digital healthcare has been present in the country before COVID-19, the pandemic has accelerated this tremendously.

Furthermore, he observed, the situation pushed for the use of what he calls precision medicine, which the managing director sees will shape healthcare in the future.

Mr. Tan cited teleradiology as an example of digital healthcare’s entry pre-COVID, with sophisticated CT scanners enabling radiologists to read images and diagnosis remotely. Picture archiving and communication is another technology that has been employed, leading to huge savings on x-ray film and space requirements.

“Whatever the radiologist would see inside the hospital, he can see at his home or wherever he is located,” Mr. Tan stressed. “This is something that has been around and being done for many years, but it was stressed even more.”

At present, Mr. Tan shared, their firm has collaborated with the DoH, the World Bank, and Asian Development Bank to deliver over 200 mobile x-ray machines to remote areas. These are coupled with Wi-Fi connections for remote sending of data to host areas, where the data can be diagnosed in their workstations.

“We are hopeful that when this is done, we will be able to provide digital solutions — not only to the regional hospitals but even down to district level. It takes a lot of money, a lot of work, but it can be done,” Mr. Tan added.

Mr. Tan also shared that the medical solutions provider is launching a robotic system that will help in cardiac interventions and can be controlled even by a doctor from another hospital.

For the Siemens Healthineers Philippines president, such developments and the further use of these innovations should push remote care, aided by precision medicine, to shape the future of healthcare.

“We should be able to get diagnosed remotely. We should be able to consult remotely,” Mr. Tan stressed.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get the daily email that makes reading the news actually enjoyable. Stay informed and entertained, for free.
Your information is secure and your privacy is protected. By opting in you agree to receive emails from us. Remember that you can opt-out any time, we hate spam too!

Latest

Investing

Lowering VAT charges on fuel may be politically attractive but is not good news for those who will struggle the most, say leading tax...

Investing

An estimated 3 per cent of the workforce was signed off in late December and a fifth of businesses reported increased cancellations amid the...

Investing

Mark Zuckerberg could be forced to pay most British Facebook users about £50 each if a landmark legal action alleging that the site abused...

Investing

France has reopened its borders to British tourists after ministers in Paris eased restrictions on non-essential travel. From this morning, Britons travelling to the...

Investing

People struck down with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus are buying so much paracetamol that supplies are running low in many shops. Official...

Investing

Covid Passports are to be abandoned within days after Sajid Javid effectively killed off the policy. The health secretary has concluded that Covid-19 certification...

You May Also Like

Investing

Having a good Instagram marketing agency to back up your Instagram account is an absolute must going into the new year. With competition stronger...

Economy

Ivermectin, an existing drug against parasites including head lice, has had a checkered history when it comes to treating COVID-19. The bulk of studies...

Investing

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in the global population. Therefore, it is a problem that many people suffer or have suffered throughout...

Investing

As a traditionally rigid insurance industry becomes bogged down by antiquated processes and operations, a handful of industry leaders are seeking to shake things...

Disclaimer: SmartRetirementReport.com, its managers, its employees, and assigns (collectively "The Company") do not make any guarantee or warranty about what is advertised above. Information provided by this website is for research purposes only and should not be considered as personalized financial advice. The Company is not affiliated with, nor does it receive compensation from, any specific security. The Company is not registered or licensed by any governing body in any jurisdiction to give investing advice or provide investment recommendation. Any investments recommended here should be taken into consideration only after consulting with your investment advisor and after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.

Copyright © 2021 SmartRetirementReport. All Rights Reserved.