This is an excerpt from our live podcast called The New Normal Business Show with Joey Gurango & Wilson Chua.
The world is currently battling the COVID-19 pandemic and health care systems and health care options are highly valuable now more than ever. People are starting to see the importance of maintaining good health and the need for having efficient health care systems not just globally but also here in the Philippines.
In the Philippines, last September 2017, the Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC) program was passed into law by congress and its goal is to provide high-quality or comprehensive health care and insurance to all Filipinos.
This law shows the utmost necessity and importance of healthcare to be available to each of us. But in the midst of the pandemic how can we gain access to our privilege? The solution is telemedicine.
Since the pandemic started it is understandable why the majority of the people are afraid to go to the doctor. But way before the pandemic happened there's 6 out of 10 Filipinos die without seeing a doctor in 2013.
The definition of telemedicine is providing health care at a distance or remotely. Telemedicine is also known as telehealth or e-health.
Telemedicine can be conducted by physicians or health care professionals to diagnose or offer consultations to their patients by using technologies and telecommunications.
The telemedicine market is quite huge and in 2018 it reached 38.3 billion dollars and by 2025 it is predicted to reach 130.5 billion dollars.
There are numerous types of telemedicine such as live video conferencing, store-and-forward (asynchronous transfer), remote patient monitoring or rpm, mobile health, or mHealth.
The father of telemedicine in the Philippines is Dr. Eloy Marcel and according to him", Telemedicine technology adoption has increased dramatically by institutions and health professionals and it will continue post- COVID- 19".
While the hindrance of telemedicine is poor internet connectivity, setting a national EMR or electronic medical record standard should be a government priority.
Dra. Irish Tan, one of the top endocrinologists in the Philippines addressed the need for platforms with low bandwidth solutions, and telepresenter trainings for nurses or midwives and the need for guidelines when transitioning in telemedicine.
Here are the Top 3 Tele-medicine solutions in response to the pandemic.
3. Remote patient monitoring
There are two parts to remote patient monitoring and its the hardware and the software. One sample of a telemedicine solution is the Lumify ultrasound and it's a portable device that you can connect to your cellphone via Bluetooth. And it can also weigh your weight, It can also be used for prediabetic patients to check blood sugar and monitor blood pressure
There are doctors that don't want to be in contact with their patients especially this pandemic to avoid the risk of infections and they can use this. There are software such as local apps that are collecting data that data analytics can use that will give you targeted efficient medicine and the outcome is better.
Here are some local apps that can be used:
CURVE from SERVIO Technoogies
2. Digital patient and Health records platform
There's a rising need for EMR in the Philippines and it has to be able to work in a low bandwidth environment considering that our country has poor internet penetration.
EMR platforms like:
These apps have different functions and they allow you as the patient to store patient information in the cloud that you can access anywhere some even have appointment scheduling built-in.
Doxy.me is the emerging favorite of doctors. Now when it comes to digital records the important question to consider is that who owns the data? Since there are three people or parties involved such as the health practitioner, patient, and the platform. The prevailing school of thought is that the patient owns the records.
While some doctors treat the patient records and the treatment protocol is that they own the data. It can be hard for the patient to obtain his or her patient or health care information.
And it's good to take note that there are pending bills in the congress which is all about telemedicine and healthcare and the use of ICT to advance healthcare or records.
The best thing about digital patient data is that once the data is up in the cloud, experts can now apply big data to further provide targeted medicine, spot errors, help hospitals save on cost, have an automation process that many health care practitioners and patients can find beneficial.
1. Remote consultations
Dr. Irish said that "not all cases can be done through virtual consultation there are some cases like an emergency."
A study by United Health Care on why people prefer virtual doctor visits and the results shows that it saves time such as 106 minutes, availability by 24/7, and costs less, about 91 percent of the health outcomes can be diagnosed virtually.
Distance is not an issue anymore even since as long as you have an internet connection, mobile device, and SMS then you can get online medical consultation with a nearby on-call doctor or hospital.
The COVID- 19 pandemic is pushing people to digitally transform so in a nutshell with the current health situation you adapt or you die.
The need for internet connectivity now is glaring. Internet connectivity is not a problem in the region of NCR but for the rural areas it is a challenge, " 65 percent of hospitals don't have adequate bandwidth", and the issue is not the technical aspect but rather legal.
People have been advocating the open access bill which benefits the health care systems here in the Philippines.
While most remote consultations don't require specialized telemedicine applications. There are many general applications that are free and easy to use.
Skype and Facebook which are both consumer-oriented,
Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft teams for business and professional purposes
Google Meet, which is both for business and professional purposes, but also free.
A newcomer is LARK from SERVIO Technologies.
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