“PhilHealth’s Information System Strategic Plan (ISSP) covering 2018- 2020 was approved by the Department of Information Communications Technology (DICT) in June 27, 2018. Any update to the Plan is forwarded to the DICT for approval as required. Only items in an approved and amended ISSP can be procured by the Corporation strictly following the provisions embodied in RA 9184 or the Procurement Law,” explained PhilHealth President and CEO Brig Gen (Ret.) Ricardo C. Morales.
Morales further explained that a budget is requested for approval from the Board for big items such as IT systems before procurement is initiated. Procurement necessitates the determination of average market cost to be set as the approved budget for public bidding. This process ensures a fair and transparent bidding process.
Because of the highly technical nature of the proposed IT procurement and to guide the board in its decision, the services of third party IT experts were tapped to review the 2020 procurement items and to develop an IT roadmap.
Contrary to media reports, the issue stemmed from an internal audit report and not a Commission on Audit (COA) report which is still being processed by the Corporation and its Board of Directors but unfortunately leaked and disseminated without proper authorization. Internal audit is a management tool to identify discrepancies in procedures being audited so corrections can be done. The report itself does not contain the words ‘overpriced’, ‘corrupt’ and ‘syndicate’.
“Our IT Sector headed by Senior Vice President Jovita Aragona is using the report for proper guidance in reforming the IT planning and procurement process. The items as reported in the news are not yet in the stages of procurement but rather are still in the review stages, said PhilHealth President and CEO Morales, adding that “the report is intended for internal consumption and will surely result in misinformation if disseminated to unintended users.”
The PhilHealth chief stressed that ‘with operations that includes the processing of 1 million claims a month, collecting and accounting of billions of pesos in premiums and maintaining an accurate and timely membership database of 110 million members, a robust, fully integrated and harmonized information system is needed to make PhilHealth’s processes more efficient for the benefit of its members, hospital partners and stakeholders. If PhilHealth wants to reduce its losses to fraud and inefficiencies, the Corporation has to invest in a world class information system with partners who are leaders in the field of IT. An IT budget of Php 2.1 B over 3 years, despite being big in absolute terms, is actually relatively inadequate.’