It was initially intended to fill the gap as the nation grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, and as face-to-face consultations were not possible due to quarantine restrictions imposed by the national government. But as we now tread the new normal and as health protocols eased, health experts who graced the Inquirer Project Rebound’s latest webinar “Healthcare: What Lies Ahead Post-Pandemic” agreed that digital healthcare is here to stay.
The webinar, which was livestreamed via Inquirer.net Facebook page last April 28, featured guests from different causes and organizations, namely: Dr. Rajendra Yadav of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Michael Caampued from the Philippine Society for Public Health Physicians (PSPHP), Konsulta MD’s chief revenue officer Grace Anduiza, Karen Villanueva of the Philippine Alliance of Patient Organizations (PAPO), and Edward Booty, founder and CEO of Reach52. Inquirer Business News Editor Dax Lucas and Inquirer Business Features Editor Doris Dumlao-Abadilla were hosts.
Health Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire opened the virtual event with a pre-recorded message showing the Department of Health’s (DOH) data on the future of healthcare. Despite encouraging and positive predictions, Dr. Vergeire emphasized the importance of health behaviors, minimum public health standards, and vaccination in order to keep the path for a clean transition open. Readers may listen to the full version of Dr. Vergeire’s talk on Youtube
The first segment of the webinar featured talks from some of the panelists. Dr. Yadav introduced Rethink, Reboot, Rebound, a concept which he believes people should strive for self-care, health awareness, and also care for the planet. Dr. Caampued discussed the driving factors of health digitalization, as well as its possibilities for change, such as hybridization of digital and face-to-face consultations. Anduiza, meanwhile, promoted telemedicine and teleconsultation, particularly Konsulta MD’s efficiency at providing online medical advice quickly and easily.
Following the talks, the five panelists were brought together to discuss the different aspects of the current digital healthcare and its future in the Philippines. Notable points from the discussion were remarks in which the private sector admittedly has the advantage and flexibility at furthering digital healthcare than the government, the increase of health-seeking behaviors in Filipinos located in far-flung areas, as well as the business potential of telemedicine in the coming years..
Dr. Yadav said that digital healthcare is here to stay. He added that although it will not be for everyone, digital healthcare provides an opportunity to lessen the pressure on hospitals and medical professionals by letting them focus on patients who have no access to telemedicine, all while keeping other Filipinos in reach of medical help online.
Caampued, on the other hand, said that there is enormous potential in digital health. “What we need to really look at is how we can catch up with infrastructure and actually increase the inclusivity of our solutions because a lot of the people who are left behind are the people who don’t have access to digital solutions,” he said.
Villanueva pointed out that health digitalization and improvement in the digital infrastructure will allow better monitoring and track usage, thus lessening the threat of leakage, corruption and governance issues.
Get the full discussion on post-pandemic healthcare at Project Rebound’s official Facebook page..
Former Health Secretary Dr. Manuel Dayrit also shared his thoughts on the future of healthcare. He said: “To conclude, two takeaways, to answer the question, what lies ahead post-pandemic. One, ensure pandemic preparedness through fundamental public health interventions nationwide, including IT- powered public health services. And two, ensure that Filipinos get the basic health services that they deserve. The [Universal Healthcare Law] UHC law already mandates these two priorities. Let us get these priorities done.”
This advocacy campaign was made possible through the support of Globe, Konsulta MD, Maxicare and MediCard, and is in partnership with the British Chamber of Commerce Philippines (BCCP), League of Corporate Foundation (LCF), Philippine Association of National Advertisers (PANA), Philippine Business for Education (PBEd), Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF), Philippine Retailers Association (PRA), Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA), Registered Financial Planner Philippines (RFP) and Shareholders’ Association of the Philippines (SharePHIL)