The country’s leading health maintenance organization (HMO) is ushering in a new era for healthcare delivery in the Philippines.
While it has long been making quality healthcare accessible to more Filipinos across the country, MediCard Philippines Inc. has also been, over the last several years, spearheading a new cycle of transformation in its delivery, particularly in the virtual care space.
Besides ensuring access to an exceptional roster of doctors, specialists and facilities, MediCard was also among the pioneers of telemedicine in the country, providing Filipinos with a safer and more convenient alternative to face-to-face doctor consultations—even before the COVID-19 pandemic made it a necessity.
“We’ve always had telemed but not a lot of people are using it (prior to the pandemic). When the pandemic hit, everyone was suddenly availing of the service. And now, more people are familiar with it, they’re comfortable using it,” MediCard president Dr. Nicky Montoya had said.
“Especially during this pandemic, medical problems can be managed through MediCard Telemedicine. Though we still advise some of them to seek face-to-face consults or get some laboratory tests done, this greatly reduces their risk of exposure to COVID-19 outside of their homes.”
—Dr. Nicky Montoya, President of MediCard Philippines Inc.
Prior to the pandemic, MediCard already offers telemedicine services and has the MediCard Access Express (MACE) app, which allows you to easily view on your mobile phone or tablet information about your health plan, register your dependents, request for consultation, generate a letter of approval for lab tests, view utilization and search for accredited dentists, doctors, and clinics and hospitals.
Recently, it has upgraded its telemedicine service through its in-house “Talk2Doc”, which can be accessed via the MACE app as well. This latest addition was in response to the exponentially growing demand for this service, as seen in the last two years amid the stringent lockdowns and deadly threats posed by the COVID-19 virus.
“With the pandemic, we had to increase our capacity and range of telemedicine services to accommodate the growing demand from our clients. This demand is never ceasing, and we are always working to improve and make the experience easier for our clients,” Montoya said.
Future of healthcare
Many experts and studies acknowledge the growing importance of telehealth or telemedicine even well beyond the pandemic.
A survey done by American management consulting company Bain & Co. showed that telehealth usage in Asia Pacific had doubled since 2019.
“Safety risks related to COVID-19 initially encouraged the growth, but consumers are now turning to telehealth more broadly due to its efficiency, time savings, and accessibility. Asia-Pacific consumers expect to increasingly use telehealth through 2024,” Bain & Co. said in an article uploaded on its website.
Bain & Co. added that it expects telehealth adoption to soar through 2024. In the case of the Philippines, some 70 percent of patients are seen to use telemedicine by 2024, up from the estimated 48 percent in 2021.
A recent Inquirer Project Rebound webinar on the future of digital healthcare also highlighted the importance of telemedicine as among the ways to ensure that quality healthcare will be accessible in more areas.
Acting World Health Organization representative to the Philippines Dr. Rajendra Prasad Yadav cited telemedicine, along with self-care and outreach services, as among the ways the country can help its population be healthier and more resilient in facing future pandemics.
What’s good about MediCard however is that while it beefs up its digital healthcare services, it complements it with further upgrades and improvements in its clinics.
For instance, it recently added new services in the MediCard Lifestyle Center in Makati to turn this facility into a one-stop center for wellness needs. Apart from the operating room, consultation rooms, imaging and X-ray rooms, this center also features a dental clinic, a pharmacy, a fitness studio, and a laser and aesthetic care center.
Its dental services now include cosmetic dentistry and orthodontics while new equipment such as panoramic and cephalometric X-ray machines have been added to the facility’s dental wing. Also added are machines that can diagnose other ophtha conditions like glaucoma and cataract, while Skin & Body by Medicard now includes treatments such as radiofrequency (RF) therapy, oxygen facial, diode laser hair removal and i-lipo, among others.
No doubt, MediCard is truly a staunch partner of many Filipinos as it remains committed, even after close to four decades now, to ensuring quality healthcare will always be accessible for everyone.