Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Gov?t starts to tap ICT for healthcare access

Through a host of projects ? both completed and still underway — the government has embarked on an ambitious journey to automate various healthcare processes in an attempt to bring universal healthcare to the people, especially those in remote areas.

DOH sec. Enrique Ona speaks during the opening of the 1st eHealth Summit at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City
DOH sec. Enrique Ona speaks during the opening of the 1st eHealth Summit at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City

Working in tandem, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Department of Health (DOH) made the declaration to collaborate to promote ICT-based solutions for healthcare at the 1st eHealth Summit at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City on Tuesday, Feb. 4.

DOST sec. Mario G. Montejo said providing universal healthcare to Filipinos has been difficult due to the archipelagic nature of the country, among other things. He said people in remote rural areas do not have access to quality healthcare since 90 percent of medical experts are in urban areas. ICT, he said, could change that.

Towards that goal, DOST?s eHealth initiatives now include a number of ICT-related projects ? the RxBox, the Philippine Health Information Exchange (PHIE), and the TV White Space technology, popularly known as ?Super Wifi.?

?RxBox(es) (are) telehealth device(s) deployed in rural areas to enable patients and health workers in remote communities to consult with medical experts in urban areas. The device also allows information gathering, storage and processing at the community level,? Montejo explained.

With RxBox, he said, poor people even in the remotest communities may already access health experts.

RxBox, developed by the DOST and the University of the Philippines, is equipped with examinations tools that could be used upon an online instruction by a medical doctor in an urban area. The patient may be assisted by a community health worker.

It also has a communication system that feeds the examination results to a central database provided by the PHIE.

The RxBox, a locally manufactured technology, will enable doctors to provide healthcare services to remote rural communities. Photo and caption courtesy of Smarter Philippines program director Alejandro Melchor III
The RxBox, a locally manufactured technology, will enable doctors to provide healthcare services to remote rural communities. Photo and caption courtesy of Smarter Philippines program director Alejandro Melchor III

The PHIE database is designed to be the central database of all patients nationwide so that hospitals and doctors could always access it when patients see them for treatment. Aside from providing convenience to patients, it also saves patient from spending unnecessary or duplicate examinations.

The PHIE was jointly developed by Information and Communication Technology Office (ICT Office) and Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI).

?The PHIE platform would work to ensure that only accurate information are made available to health practitioners and decision-makers,? Montejo said.

He said the RxBox would work even in the remotest islands through the TV White Space technology.

Montejo said the agency aims to complete the eHealth projects by 2016. — STII-DOST

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