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IT in healthcare curing the clutter

Phoebe Magdirila and Macel Legaspi | Oct. 4, 2011
Behind the healthcare provided to millions of patients in a hospital lies an efficient system in place that aids in faster communications and information dissemination.

Behind the healthcare provided to millions of patients in a hospital lies an efficient system in place that aids in faster communications and information dissemination. Today, information technology serves as nourishment to the healthcare industry -- integrating voluminous pieces of information that circulates in the complex operations of healthcare providers day by day.

E-health initiatives are now found in 68% of the ICST policies in the Asia and Pacific region, as stated by the United Nations Economics and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Information Communication and Space Technology (UNESCAP-ICST).

In the Philippines, local hospitals and clinics see IT systems as both a challenge and an opportunity. By improving the quality of healthcare and medical information accuracy, these systems allow the country's healthcare providers to meet the increasing demands not only of the local market but also the international market.

Value for IT in Healthcare

Through the Strategic Framework laid down by the Aquino administration, the Department of Health (DOH) coordinates with different organizations and utilizes IT to solve the challenges of the geographic landscape of the country. "It is (thus) imperative that we focus on harnessing critical ICT technologies in making data and information available," Health Secretary Enrique Ona said in his speech on his health initiatives in 2010. "Significant investments must be allocated for this." The DOH has started to use information and communication technology to improve health services. "The e-health strategic framework of the Philippines can be a good model for other countries to follow, especially as inroads on the use of text messaging to deliver healthcare to barrios have been proven effective," says Mark Landry, health information technical officer, health information, evidence and research, World Health Organization, Western Pacific Regional Office.

More so, a recent Asian medical tourism analysis shows that the Philippines is one of the Asian countries with emerging prospects for medical tourism. Supporting this is a recent study by Deloitte Consulting Group which shows that 40% of Americans will consider seeking medical treatment abroad if it will cost half the price for the same quality. Foreigners now opt to cross borders to seek quality hospitalization services at a cheaper cost.

With this growing trend, the Philippine government expects to gain around US$3 billion through the medical tourism industry by 2015, with 200,000 foreign patients arriving annually.

To integrate data in the different departments of a hospital, Hospital Operations and Management Information System (HOMIS), a data management software, is already being used in more than 40 public hospitals nationwide while some are using private systems under the publicprivate partnership (PPP) program of the government. "It would be best if we have health information systems," Crispinita A. Valdez, director of the DOH Information Management Services Division, told Computerworld Philippines in a telephone interview. "It helps if facilities that provide services to foreigners are computerized," she adds.


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