By John Reczon E. Calay
KonsultaMD, a local startup that provides 24/7 health hotline services, introduced on Sunday, Jan. 7, its telemedicine services to a remote indigenous peoples? community in Bulacan.
Established in 2015, KonsultaMD claims to be the first telemedicine company in the Philippines. Telemedicine is consultation with licensed doctors over the phone.
After Konsulta MD?s successful all-telecom network accessibility in February 2017, the telemedicine company plans to broaden the coverage of the service by testing the service to remote areas in the Philippines starting this January.
First to test the service is the Punduhan ng mga Dumagat community in the Sierra Madre mountain rage area of Norzagaray, Bulacan last January 7. Located within a 10-hectare land within Angat Dam, the community is comprised of 45 Dumagat individuals from 21 families.
Bro. Martin Francisco, a missionary and community leader of the Punduhan since 1996, lamented the absence of an ambulance in their community.
?Ang ?ambulansya? lang naming dito ay kolong-kolong o motorsiklo at napakahirap para sa kanila na bumaba papuntang health center,? (?The only ?ambulance? we have here is a kolong-kolong or a motorcycle, and it is very hard for people to go down to the local health center,?) Francisco added.
Also a paramedic, he added that members of the community usually have four health conditions: ulcer, urinary tract infection (UTI), common colds and coughs leading to pneumonia, and tuberculosis.
?Problematic sa amin iyan na i-address dahil marami silang paniniwala na kapag nagkasakit, pinatitingnan muna ito sa kanilang mountain healers,? ([The health conditions are] Problematic to address because the Dumagat people insists on consulting their conditions to their mountain healers,?) Francisco said.
Emerencia Sembrano, 47, consulted her backache and sore throat and her children?s primary conditions over the phone. The doctor advised her to take over-the-counter medicines and drink eight to 10 glasses of water to treat her sore throat.
?Nakatutulong dahil hindi na kami pupunta sa bayan para magpatingin. Dito na lang sa amin,? (?It [KonsultaMD] helps because we don?t need to go to the town proper for consultations. We just do it here in our community,?) Sembrano added.
Telemedicinal services could address health concerns simplifying accessibility, time, and cost, KonsultaMD sales operation manager Alfie Paulino said.
?Anytime and anywhere, people will get hold of information from licensed doctors,? she said, adding that the services of KonsultaMD are not intended to replace face-to-face interaction with a doctor.
The company consists of licensed and highly-trained Filipino doctors ready to address health concerns over the telephone. Health-related issues concerning maternity, pediatrics, and primary conditions (fever, rashes, and allergies) can be inquired to health professionals on the line. Callers may also inquire about health coaching, nutrition counseling, permissible medication, and laboratory results.
KonsultaMD is a joint venture of Globe Telehealth, Inc. (GTI) and Mexican telemedicine company Salud Interactiva. Currently, it serves more than 225,000 active subscribers.
Telemedecine services can be availed by calling 79880 (mobile) or (02) 798-8000 (landline).
Globe Prepaid and Touch Mobile (TM) users may opt to subscribe individually to KonsultaMD services by paying P15 per week or P60 monthly. Globe postpaid customers only need to pay a P150 monthly fee to avail the services which can be used by up to four additional members.