Senator Edgardo J. Angara expressed his support for a public-private partnership (PPP) that utilizes information and communications technology (ICT) to improve healthcare systems in some parts of the country that would otherwise be virtually inaccessible.
Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, lauded the pilot program between Smart Communications, Inc. and the Department of Health (DOH) entitled Secured Health Information Network and Exchange (SHINE).
The SHINE program aims to create an electronic database of patients' medical histories and share it among rural health units and some government hospitals in Iloilo City.
SHINE boosts the efficiency of healthcare delivery by cutting down the time spent in time consuming and repetitive documentation of patient data. The system will also aid in recording consultations, filling up and sending of referral acknowledgement and feedback forms, searching for health care specialists or facilities, setting of appointments as well as the sending of short messaging system (SMS) notification and reminders to patients.
"Public-private collaborations like this can help make universal healthcare in the Philippines a reality. We have high hopes that programs such as this succeed," said Angara.
Under the program, health workers in the field will be able to access patient data through mobile phones equipped with the SHINE system.
Orlando Vea, chief wireless advisor of Smart shared, "SHINE will lessen the workloads of health professionals because the patient's records are recorded in computers. It also makes the referral of patients faster and more efficient."
Smart will provide SHINE-enabled computers and mobile phones to 13 rural health units, 10 health centers, five district hospital and two tertiary hospitals.
"Such a program, if successful, must be replicated across the country. Government has to be bolder and engage stakeholders--public and private--to boost telehealth in the country," said Angara.
Angara, author of the Philhealth Act, took note that the Congressional Commission on Science & Technology and Engineering (COMSTE) identified telehealth as a top national priority for 2011.
He added that a similar telehealth system is being pioneered by the provincial government of Aurora, his home province, with the help of the National Telehealth Center at UP Manila.