DOH-MIMAROPA formally opens ‘telemedicine’ system in Marinduque, the first of such kind in the country

POSTED: Friday, December 5th, 2014

CALAPAN CITY – The island province of Marinduque will soon be the country’s heart or center of “telemedicine,” or medical consultation and diagnostics through a remote but live video conversation.

This was so after the Department of Health (DOH) Region 4B (MIMAROPA), led by Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo, launched on Wednesday (November 26) the first-interactive telemedicine system in the country at the newly-inaugurated Dr. Damian J. Reyes Provincial Hospital in Boac, Marinduque.

Dr. Janairo explained that through the foreseen success of telemedicine in the enhancement of the health concerns of the people of Marinduque, they are hoping to replicate it in the entire country, making the said island province the “functioning heart” that will pump “life” to other provinces nationwide in the near future.

“Marinduque (in the future) will be oxygenating the entire country for this,” the health official stressed, citing the effectiveness of the RxBox and Quantum Magnetic Resonance Analyzer (QMRA) in the remote diagnosis and evaluation of patients who need immediate treatment and care in distant communities of the province.

“This is a big leap for the healthcare industry because we now have the ability to provide interactive healthcare to patients in far-flung areas through a video call using modern technology and telecommunications,” said Janairo.

He added that medical examinations can now be done through a live video conversation.

“Monitoring a patient’s recovery through mobile technology will reduce outpatient visits and enable remote prescription verification and drug administration, reducing the cost of medical care for the patient,” Dr. Janairo said.

For his part, Dr. Manuel Atienza, of SMC Sky Medical Group from the United States, disclosed the Philippines is the 96th country worldwide which made the wise decision of adopting the said modern technology.

In the program that followed, Atienza showed how the system allows a patient to communicate with healthcare providers live over video conversation in real time for the provision of immediate care.  This was done for a clearer understanding of the people curious over the technology.

“A doctor from Manila can virtually hear a patient’s heartbeat from Marinduque.  He can even ask you to cough, inhale or exhale and give you an initial analysis of your health condition,” Atienza explained.

Through the camera attached, the video or still images of the parts of the body of a patient needing medical services are captured and can be viewed by expert physicians who will examine and give medical advices or instructions to the health workers assisting the patient in the hospital.

Patient’s data or record can also be sent to a physician for diagnosis and follow-up treatment at a scheduled time.

Under the new technology, patients can receive treatment and care from doctors without visiting the health facility.

The DOH official and Atienza were joined by Marinduque Governor Carmencita O. Reyes, Congresswoman Regina O. Reyes, Vice-Governor Romulo Bacorro, Boac Mayor Roberto Madla and other local officials during the launching.

Governor Reyes said marinduque officials are very grateful for the opportunity of making the province of Marinduque the first choice for the telemedicine technology in the country because modern health care is scarce in the province and most of the patients with serious condition often seek medical treatment in Manila and nearby cities.

Accordingly, there are no private hospitals and there is limited number of local health professionals in Marinduque.

PhilHealth members who will be seeking treatment under the telemedicine technology will be given reimbursement and this can contribute a lot to the locality for that will mean reimbursement of services to the provincial hospital and health professionals as well.

Other patients from nearby provinces like Calapan City in Oriental Mindoro and Batangas City in Batangas can also be treated through the facility.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Telemedicine as “the delivery of health care services by all health care professionals using information and communication technologies for the exchange of valid information for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the continuing education of healthcare providers, all in the interests of advancing the health of individuals and their communities.”

The telemedicine project is a public-private partnership (PPP) of DOH-MIMAROPA with SMC SKY Medical Group in the United States.

The DOH-MIMAROPA provided P10 million for the installation of the satellite equipment that will be used by the system.

The local government of Marinduque’s role, on the other hand, is to provide for the wages of the existing healthcare workers and membership payment to PhilHealth for non-member residents, also known as the Point-Of-Care Enrollment.

Initially, three hospitals will be linked with each other through the telemedicine system. These are the Sta. Cruz District Hospital, Torijos Municipal Hospital and the Dr. Damian Reyes Provincial Hospital which will serve as the main hub for the system. (By JUANCHO R. MAHUSAY)

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