PEOPLE don’t have to brave the traffic, fall in line at the clinic or self-diagnose at home when feeling sick. Kitika, a telehealth mobile app designed for the tech-savvy, fast-paced and multi-faceted lifestyle of many Filipinos, lets them to speak to a doctor through unlimited chat, call or video call anytime, anywhere.
Telehealth, a key component in future information and communication technology infrastructure for integrated care, involves the use of telecommunications and virtual technology to deliver health care outside of traditional health facilities, said Dr. Ferdinand Abella, the telehealth app’s medical director.
With 16 years of practice, Abella noted how the app makes health care accessible to people who live in rural or isolated communities, and the services readily available or convenient for people with limited mobility, time and transportation options.
It also provides access to medical specialists, improves communication and coordination of care among members of a health care team and a patient, and provides support for self-management care, he added.
Abella pointed out the telehealth app may provide opportunities to make health care more efficient, better coordinated and closer to home. He said telehealth technologies increase the efficiency of the health care system overall by maximizing the productivity of each provider and removing geographical barriers to care.
Telemedicine technology has three categories: remote patient monitoring, store-and-forward and real-time communication.
According to Abella, health care system remains one of the most crucial sectors that needs to be developed in the country, as it is plagued by issues like poor medical records, overcrowding of public hospitals and clinic centers and impoverishing medical treatment cost, among others.
“We are trying to make the consultation to be in the form of a video call to make it personal and for us to visually examine the patient, and do initial impression” he said.
Jerome Sebastian, the telehealth app’s managing director and co-founder, said the app was established to provide a comprehensive, convenient and affordable health care solution, with the aim of making medical consultation more accessible through modern technology.
However, the challenge in the Philippines is the infrastructure and that includes telecoms for which the company has no control over. With the plans of the government to make the internet accessible to rural areas, “we will partner with the local government units for them to have a telehealth access,” Sebastian said, adding the company ensures data privacy.
“Telehealth care can help one prevent from getting sick further, or just have a peace of mind that a doctor is available in case you need him,” he said. The app comes with affordable and comprehensive family-friendly subscription plans.
As an introductory price until December, the basic plan starts at P959 per year for a primary holder and four dependents, while the premium plan starts at P1,299 per year for a primary holder and six dependents. The executive plan is at P1,599 per year for a primary holder and nine dependents.
These can be availed thru credit cards or PayPal. The company is in talks with major banks and other payment centers.
It provides 24/7 service, unlimited call, chat and video call; e-prescriptions, medical certification and access to medicine delivery. “We have partner specialists who we can refer to in case a doctor, for instance, sees a patient has high blood pressure,” Sebastian said.
The Single, Trio, Family, Extended and Clan telehealth plans with standard retail prices will be offered next year.
The telehealth app provides value-added services for employees and health insurance members, reduces the HMO spend for ER coverage and prevents sick leaves for employees, ensures quick access to nurses and doctors, as well as convenience.
“It is not about developing a well-designed product backed by creative marketing campaigns, but it is really about sparking and creating a telehealth movement that will thrive in the country so that everybody has access to doctors,” Sebastian said.
He explained that it is not replacing but complementing the traditional way of visiting a doctor. “We are here to provide an alternative solution in case you are unable to visit that doctor in the hospital or clinic,” noted Sebastian.