Healthcare BPOs see opportunity to upgrade PH systems amid pandemic

Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 11 2020 04:19 PM

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

MANILA - The COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity for Philippine hospitals, clinics, insurance companies and government agencies to make their healthcare data systems more interoperable, an industry group of BPOs that handle healthcare information said on Wednesday. 

The Healthcare Information Management Association of the Philippines (HIMAP) said business outsourcing for healthcare is booming, as the need for physical distancing has made healthcare stakeholders more receptive to technological innovations such as telehealth. 

However, the healthcare information systems of hospitals, clinics, insurance agencies in the Philippines are unable to interact and share data with each other, HIMAP said. 

"Our systems don’t talk to each other, work with each other,” said Randy Knutson, president of Dynaquest, a healthcare BPO. 

Roselle Gomez, Risk Assurance Partner at PwC Philippines, said the problem is not unique to the country. 

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“It is experienced in other countries as well. This one focuses on not having consolidated data. For HIMAP, it can set the direction, drive the initiative, promote open data policy. That is something that can be done,” Gomez said. 

Jeffrey Williams, founder and chief investment officer at Genfinity Philippines said solutions vendors need to convince local healthcare organizations to buy in. 

“There is a lot of great solutions platforms, how do you get local entities to adopt, get traction that you need," Williams said

The lack of interoperability in healthcare data systems has been a major problem for the Department of Health, as this makes it more difficult for them to collect COVID-19 data from different hospitals.

Ma. Cristina Coronel, president of Philippine IT-BPM firm Pointwest said the DOH has been more open to technological solutions because of the pandemic. 

“From HIMAP, we were volunteering our services to make sure data governance would properly be addressed knowing there is a delay in delivery, and the quality of data coming in. PointWest through HIMAP is donating its services."

Gomez said other countries have already developed advanced healthcare information systems. In China, she said, Tencent has already developed a medical card which links information on prescriptions, medical records, and doctors' appointments with drug stores, which allows them to swiftly confirm doses and other vital information, improving the experience of patients. 

Gomez also noted Alibaba has developed a digital epidemic prevention system, integrated with information on public transport, where the public can inquire if they were exposed to infected persons.