​Solon wants to institutionalize “telehealth” for better access to health care services

A LAWMAKER is proposing to institutionalize the use of telecommunications to deliver health services and facilitate better access to health care in far flung areas.

Rep. Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya (1st District, Cavite) said “telehealth” can lessen direct and indirect health care costs, especially out-of-pocket expenses that are a major burden to patients and their families.

Abaya said the creation of the national telehealth system shall help reduce costs associated with health care and make health care more accessible and help improve health outcomes.

He said accessible quality healthcare remains beyond the reach of majority of Filipinos.

“The Aquino Health Agenda report of 2010 showed that around 60 percent of Filipinos who succumb to illness still die without medical attention,” he added.

Abaya proposed through House Bill 6336 the establishment of a National Telehealth System that will govern the practice and development of telehealth in the country.

Under the bill, the National Telehealth System shall provide and support health care delivery, transfer of care of patients, exchange of health data and education especially in medically unserved and underserved communities.

Abaya said that based on the reports made by the National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) in 2008 and by UNICEF in 2004, the country has the highest rate in infant mortality and maternal deaths in Asia.

Abaya said the basic health statistics are even worse in rural and often isolated areas because of the country’s archipelagic nature.

“Isolation due to distance, weather conditions, and transportation, as well as poverty and situations of disasters or armed conflict continue to be significant barriers to access to health services,” Abaya said.

The bill seeks to provide a mechanism for gathering, collating, and making available all health data using eHealth applications, from the local health systems to various managers at different levels within the health care system.

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