DOH intensifies health care delivery thru telemedicine

By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

September 11, 2018, 8:55 pm

MANILA -- To overcome the geographical barriers in public health care delivery in the region, the Department of Health (DOH) Calabarzon launched on Tuesday the Telemedicine program.

In a press briefing in Pasay City, DOH Calabarzon director Eduardo Janairo said telemedicine is the use of technology in service delivery network where telecommunications and information technology are utilized to provide clinical care from a distance.

"Maraming modalities ang telemedicine. May apat na design na technology ng telemedicine existing sa Pilipinas: may RX Box, through Skype video, call consult, at itong bagong machine (Telemedicine has many modalities. There are four designs of telemedicine technology existing in the Philippines: the RX box, through Skype video, call consult, and this new machine)," he said.

RxBox is a combination of diagnostic devices capable of identifying common medical problems, computerizing results, and transmitting data electronically. It was invented by the University of the Philippines-Manila to serve the country’s poor and underserved masses.

Around 1,000 RXBoxes have been deployed to 3,500 poor municipalities nationwide last year.

DOH Calabarzon will be including new machines to its telemedicine program, such as the 12-lead digital ECG, digital spirometer, spot monitor, trans-vaginal ultrasound probe, digital otoscope, USB telephonic stethoscope, abdominal USB ultrasound probe, multi-purpose camera and scope, a clinical assist and a portable teleclinic in a mobile case.

This medical equipment allows the clinicians to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients remotely.

"We’ll be spending PHP3.5 million per gadget but mas mura pa iyon kesa mag-employ tayo ng doctors to the barrios na hindi naman sigurado kung magtatagal sa isang area (this is much cheaper than employing doctors to the barrios who may not stay for long in the area)," Janairo said.

With the goal to expand telemedicine program to the different areas of the country, he said they have partnered with the private sector specifically companies which can provide them the right health care equipment.

"Pero wala pang budget because we’re still in a research mode ng one month to look into the foot traffic ng mga patients, how often they [machines] will be used by the people in the islands. So yung ang inaaral namin ngayon (But there is no budget yet because we’re still in a research mode by one month to look into the foot traffic of the patients, how often they [machines] will be used by the people in the islands. So that's what we're studying now)," he said.

Calabarzon region consists of the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon.

DOH director Enrique Tayag, who was also at the press briefing, said people living in isolated and depressed areas would be the primary beneficiaries of the telemedicine program if it gets implemented nationwide.

Tayag said DOH is still at proof of concept stage with regard to the telemedicine program and its potential nationwide implementation.

"The bigger picture is the e-health law sa timeline sa Congress. Baka next year pa maaprubahan ang e-health law , in the meantime, kelangan na natin ilagay ang pundasyon ng e-health implementation kasama na ang telemedicine diyan (In the timeline of Congress, maybe next year e-health law could be approved. In the meantime, we need to lay down the foundation of e-health implementation which includes telemedicine)," he said. (PNA)