Batapa-Sigue: Time to make the country eHealthy

Batapa-Sigue: Time to make the country eHealthy

TELEHEALTH, telemedicine and eHealth solutions are now the buzzwords in the medical scene. These words were almost totally foreign-sounding in 2019 or before the pandemic to a country where almost all sectors are still to embrace disruptive technologies. But today, as number of deaths of Filipino healthcare professionals rise due to Covid-19, there is a better case in support for contactless medical solutions.

The Department of Health (DOH) has announced that 1,062 of the 6,599 individuals confirmed positive with Covid-19 as of April 22 are healthcare workers in the country. The numbers consist of 462 doctors, 386 nurses, 30 medical technologists, 21 radiological technologists, 51 nursing assistants and 152 medical personnel such as administrative staff and barangay health workers. Of the number 26 are dead, including 19 doctors. The push now comes to shove. It is time for force innovation in Philippine medical system at all fronts.

Last week, local developers and systems designers teamed up to build a web-based application for medical online consultations for residents of Bacolod and Negros Occidental. BooqBCD ( is a free web-based telemedicine app locally developed and piloted in Bacolod City to maximizing the use of accessible technology as a strategy to reduces risk of virus transmission and in support of physical distancing. Through the system, Bacolod residents can now seek initial medical attention from physicians though online medical consultations, without the need for physical presence in a clinic or a medical facility.

BooqBCD team lead Philip Porras told me this week there are already fifteen doctors with various specializations serving as volunteers for the system. Its chief developer is Ed Salinas, who was the founder of Convonaut, one of the original startups I mentored under the Negros First Cybercentre Technology Business Incubation (TBI) Program two years ago. Ed is one of the top developers I know who can ensure the strictest data privacy and ethical rules compliant with law. When the team reached out to me for mentorship and advice, I just needed to test the system and I was immediately impressed. Right now, I can only thank all the generous young doctors on board, who continually assist in improving the system. No solution is perfect so the process of improvement must be a constant.

Another major milestone is the collaboration built around creating eHealth solutions led by the Development Academy of the Philippines-Graduate School of Public and Development Management (DAP-GSPDM), the offices of Senators Pia Cayetano and Sonny Angara and other organizations.

Through the leadership of another good friend from Bacolod, DAP senior vice president and GSPDM dean Dr. Lizan E. Perante-Calina, DAP-GSPDM is now poised to respond to the challenge of capacitating healthcare professionals on eHealth solutions. For decades, DAP-GSPDM has established a remarkable track record as a national institution for capacity-building of public sector human resources and facilitator for synergy to spur change and sustainable development.

I am honored to have been invited as a supervising fellow for the DAP-GSPDM program, “Innovating Healthcare Service Delivery through Electronic Health (eHealth) Solutions” which aims to develop and operationalize a contactless triage framework; set up a contactless triage platform in each region in the Philippines and form a convergence network among people and organizations to propel and strengthen the practice of eHealth in the country.

Another health-related innovation is now in its final stage under the Tatak Pinoy team of Senator Sonny Angara, where I am also helping as consultant for digital transformation. The project is a web-based application for Covid-19 donors to donate plasma. The project is undertaken to support the services of the Philippine General Hospital and St. Luke’s Hospital and is provided technical support by a Bacolod-based startup, Talking Myna IT Solutions. Its founder Ross Monserate came back from extensive project management portfolio overseas after 12 years, to start his own company. I am proud to be Ross’ mentor because he is devoted to helping promote digital skills in Negros Occidental. Things are looking hopeful in the area of telemedicine. Eight years ago, I was sitting across telemedicine advocates in Texas, learning about health information technology, as an Eisenhower Fellow of the Philippines. It was a long wait for me to finally put the learnings to good use.


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