ALING Otay, 88 considers herself healthy.
This is because, before the pandemic, she visits her doctor four times a year. A recipient of a triple bypass and a valve replacement twenty years ago, she is given a clean bill of health each check-up, or when a concern is spotted, like a developing kidney stone for example, it is addressed quickly.,
Her good health is something she says she could not have achieved, were it not for her regular medical check-ups.
But since March this year, she has not been able to visit her doctors and relies only on her current prescriptions and an occasional barangay health center visit for a blood test and simple check-up.
“It is a difficult time for me and my senior citizen friends,” she shared. But when introduced to the idea of telemedicine, and talking to a doctor over a smartphone to explain her health worries, she lightened up at the idea.
Caring for the elderly and providing access to health service to more Filipinos through telemedicine was the main topic at the November 24 online webinar “Telemedicine-accelerating access of Filipinos to quality universal healthcare.”
Run by Pru Life UK, in partnership with the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) and the British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (BCCP), the role of telemedicine within the strangling confines of the pandemic was discussed.
It mainly pivoted on how cross-sector collaboration in digital health can help narrow the financial gaps and expand Filipinos’ access to quality healthcare services amid the rollout of Universal Health Care in the country. The discussions included the role telemedicine plays to help achieve inclusive insurance, explaining how the problems, such as the one that beset Aling Otay was best solved through technology.
Panelists acknowledged the limitations of telemedicine, such as the issue doctor’s orders for particular tests that require an actual physical examination. A question on how, for example, can a patient provide proper information when the basic measuring tools, a sphygmomanometer, oxi-pulse device or even a stethoscope is unavailable or may be used improperly.
Panelists responded by saying that telemedicine is a safe and effective solution because a great part of how a doctor assesses a patient is by an interview. Telemedicine is just a part of the whole process, which after an assessment may require a visit to a diagnostic center or an actual doctor’s appointment.
THE scare of an infection or a mass breakout of disease is the greatest fear in going to a medical facility or even visiting a doctor and this gave rise to telemedicine.
Dr. Francis Soriano, Director of Clinical Operations at MyDoc, a telemedicine provider in Asia, expounded on “Telemedicine services and data management.” In his discussion, it was very clear how a patient’s data is kept secure and private and how it can, using AI systems, for example, paint a virtual image of the patient’s health. Data showed that from March until August this year, more people used the various telemedicine platforms.
The event is part of Pru Life UK’s digital health dialogue series, Healthscape PH, is in line with the company’s “We DO Health” spirit to encourage Filipinos to proactively manage their health and wellbeing.
The webinar was hosted by Dr. Freddie Gomez, CNN’s resident medical expert and the anchor of the health-oriented public affairs show ‘The Doctor is In’.
Pru Life UK President and CEO Antonio “Jumbing” De Rosas, discussed “Telemedicine and mobile health for inclusive insurance,” while Chief Customer Marketing Officer Allan Tumbaga led the discussion on “The insurance sector for a stronger universal health care.”
Both fora expounded not only on the importance of getting insurance as part of a holistic health package but also to create a worry-free ecosystem involving patient, doctors, the insurance and health care providers.
Also at the webinar were National Telehealth Center Director Dr. Raymund Sarmiento who spoke on “The role of telemedicine in the context of universal health care,” whilst Dr. Paolo Antonio Silva, Head of The Medical City Program Teleophthalmology will talk about “Telemedicine for hospitals, doctors, and patients.”
In his opening remarks, De Rosas said that the webinar is a value-added service and a testament to the company’s commitment to protect the financial security and health of Filipinos.