Press Release
February 17, 2011


The Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), which has identified Telehealth as a top national priority for 2011, is seeking to fast track the implementation of the project.

At the recently held International Symposium on eHealth and Telemedicine, representatives from the Philippines as well as India, Pakistan, Malaysia and the World Health Organization (WHO) presented new ideas and developments in telehealth.

Department of Health Secretary Dr. Enrique Ona, who is a member of the COMSTE health panel, noted that the role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) would play an important role in making the move towards achieving universal healthcare.

The National Telehealth Project, which was initiated by the University of the Philippines, Manila National Telehealth Center (UPM-NTC), is seen as an ideal partnership between healthcare and technology, which would enable doctors to remotely diagnose patients in rural and far-flung communities.

Remote consultations include the use of SMS and MMS services, video conferencing, and email referrals. The project has ten sites in four provinces, complete with workstations and training centers. In a 34 month period, there have 1,389 telehealth referrals from remote doctors.

According to the UPM-NTC, telemedicine also incorporates an e-records system which would develop a web-based electronics health record system for government health centers and Phil-Health.

The collection of digital records also creates a centralized information system that can be utilized by PhilHealth. By keeping track of its members, PhilHealth can make it easier for members to get the health care they need and at the same time sustain their membership, as well as properly compensate health care workers.

Senator Edgardo J. Angara, Chair of COMSTE, said that aside from improving basic health care services and delivery to remote areas, telemedicine will create the foundation for digital medical records. By collecting data from patients all over the country, transitioning to a digital medical record system will become easier.

The COMSTE health panel has also seen the use of Telehealth technology as becoming the basis for an innovative way for remote consultations and patient interfacing, which can provide the Philippines with a competitive edge in the medical tourism market.

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