'Telemedicine bill' to regulate eHealth services, curb PhilHealth corruption: Salceda

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 18 2020 11:50 AM

A Telehealth platform MEDIFI remotely connects doctors and patients anywhere in the Philippines. Online consultations have gained popularity due to the lockdown of Luzon to beat COVID-19. Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The House of Representative Ways and Means Committee chairman, Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda on Tuesday said he filed a telemedicine bill to expand eHealth services and curb corruption. 

House Bill No. 7422 or the Philippine E-Health and Telemedicine Development Act of 2020 would enable telemedicine to expand in underserved communities. 

Online consultations have gained traction during the coronavirus pandemic as Filipinos prefer to stay at home to avoid contracting COVID-19.

“Remote medicine services are essential, especially in the time of COVID-19. We’ve set aside medical services for other diseases because COVID-19 has overtaken all other health priorities. But many of these diseases we are neglecting are deadlier and more debilitating than the virus. So, we need alternatives to our traditional modes of healthcare delivery,” Salceda said in a statement.

The measure will also curb fraud in the system such as the controversial Philhealth scandal that involves billions of pesos, he said. Telehealth "is harder to defraud" with its easily verifiable system and data analytics, the lawmaker said.

Although platforms such as Medifi, AideApp and other online health consultation services have gained traction during the lockdowns, there is no regulatory framework for telemedicine and electronic health system in the country, he said.

"Our health care system is weak. The path seems obvious to me: let’s use our strengths to improve our weaknesses," Salceda said.

Salceda said the bill would help boost health policy making in the country.

The bill proposes to enable and regulate eHealth services and solutions, promote supporting infrastructure and develop framework for strategy and investments in the sector, among others.

-- with a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News