DOH, BPO partnership urged to boost country's COVID-19 hospital referral hotline

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 07 2021 06:55 PM

DOH, BPO partnership urged to boost country's COVID-19 hospital referral hotline 1
A health worker inside a temporary emergency room for non COVID-19 patients at a hospital in Quezon City on April 28, 2020. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News file photo/File

MANILA - Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday called on the Department of Health (DOH) to seek aid from the Philippines' top business process outsourcing (BPO) companies to boost the capacity of the government's centralized hospital referral hotline.

The One Hospital Command Center (OHCC) has been hard to reach because it is already overwhelmed with calls due to the soaring COVID-19 cases in the country, Hontiveros said in a statement.

"We are home to world-renowned BPO industries here in the Philippines and utilizing their capabilities will pave the way for more calls getting answered, more patients being promptly referred to hospitals, more lives being saved," she said.

"We don't deserve these busy lines... No one deserves to be kept hanging on the line while their lives are also on the line," she said.

Last week, a DOH official said that the OHCC has been "swamped with many calls and we don’t have the technology of call forwarding."

Since new COVID-19 cases spiked in March, the command center has been receiving up to 300 calls per day, about 5 times the usual number of calls it received last year, according to data from the DOH.

The BPO industry has been one of the country's major employers and top sources of income, along with overseas remittances, as at least 1.15 million Filipinos work in call centers, according to a 2018 study by global strategic advisory firm Tholons.

Call centers in the country can help become "potential collaborators that will aid in upgrading the existing basic set-up of the hotline to help meet the increasing number of calls being received daily," Hontiveros' statement read.

"Imagine how many lives we could have saved if only we promptly answered and facilitated all these distress calls," she said. 

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