The island province Marinduque is now aiming to become a telehealth center after recently becoming the first local government unit to launch an interactive telemedicine system in the country.
Department of Health (DOH) Mimaropa regional director Eduardo C. Janairo led the soft launch on Wednesday, Nov. 26, at the newly inaugurated Dr. Damian J. Reyes Provincial Hospital in Boac.
The telemedicine project was conducted under the public-private partnership (PPP) of the regional office of the Department of Health with SMC Sky Medical Group in the United States.
The DOH provided P10 million for the installation of the satellite equipment that will be used by the system.
During the launch, Janairo was joined by Marinduque governor Carmencita O. Reyes, Dr. Manuel Atienza of SMC Sky Medical Group, Marinduque representative Regina O. Reyes, Vice Governor Romulo Bacorro, Boac mayor Roberto Madla and other local officials.
The province belongs to the so-called Mimaropa region, which is composed of Mindoro Oriental and Occidental, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan. Marinduque is also sometimes referred to as the heart of the nation because of its geographical location, being at the center of the national map.
Janairo said that if successful, the implementation of the telemedicine system will be replicated in other parts of the entire country, making Marinduque the functioning ?heart? that will pump ?life? to other provinces.
He cited the effectiveness of the RxBox and Quantum Magnetic Resonance Analyzer (QMRA) in the remote diagnosis and evaluation of patients requiring immediate treatment and care in distant communities of the province.
?This is a big leap for the healthcare industry because we now have the ability to provide interactive healthcare to patients in far-flung areas through video conferencing technology,? said Janairo.
?Monitoring a patient?s recovery through mobile technology will reduce outpatient visits and enable remote prescription verification and drug administration, reducing the cost of medical care for the patient,? he pointed out.
For his part, Atienza of the SMC Sky Medical Group from the US, said the Philippines is the 96th country in the world to adopt the technology.
In a presentation, Atienza showed how the system allows a patient to communicate with healthcare providers live over video conversation in real time.
?A doctor from Manila can virtually hear a patient?s heartbeat from Marinduque. He can even ask you to cough, inhale or exhale and give you an initial analysis of your health condition,? Atienza explained.
Through a camera, the video or still images of the parts of the body of a patient needing medical services are captured and can be viewed by expert physicians who will examine and give medical advice or instructions to health workers assisting the patient in the hospital.
Patients? data or records can also be sent to a physician for diagnosis and follow-up treatment at a scheduled time.
Marinduque governor Reyes acknowledged the proponents of the project for selecting the province, noting that health care is inadequate in the island with most of the patients often seeking medical treatment in Metro Manila and nearby cities.
Marinduque has no private hospitals and there is limited number of local health professionals in the province.
Other patients from nearby provinces like Calapan City in Oriental Mindoro and Batangas City in Batangas can also be treated through the facility.
Initially, three hospitals will be linked with each other through the telemedicine system. These are the Sta. Cruz District Hospital, Torijos Municipal Hospital and the Dr. Damian Reyes Provincial Hospital which will serve as the main hub for the system. — PNA