DOST highlights new technologies to boost medical accessibility

Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 29 2022 10:24 PM

The Department of Science and Technology Philippine Council for Health Research and Development Department (DOST-PCHRD) is highlighting the use of two programs that can help bridge some gaps in the Philippine healthcare system.

These are Accepting Telepsychiatry Among Overseas Filipino Workers in Kuwait and the Logistic Indoor Service Assistant Telepresence Robot, otherwise known as the LISA robot.

The Accepting Telepsychiatry Among Overseas Filipino Workers in Kuwait is a digital platform that allows distressed Filipinos working in Kuwait to get access to mental healthcare through Filipino psychiatrists in the Philippines. 

"More or less 200 OFW's are supported. Kuwait due to employment concerns among others these Filipinos are in need of mental health services to help them cope with the mental health challenges they experience due to various pressures,” DOST Secretary Renato Solidum said in a press conference on Thursday.

Solidum added, some of the OFWs were diagnosed to be suffering from acute stress disorder, major depressive disorder, brief psychotic disorder and post traumatic stress disorder.

The project has been able to provide services to 54 OFWs in Kuwait, and Solidum said it will be expanded to different countries around the world, first in “high priority areas” like Qatar, Hongkong, Saudi Arabia and in the maritime industry. Next would be countries considered medium priority areas like Japan, and Singapore, followed by Africa, America and Oman which are in the low priority area category.

This technology was also able to help OFWs during medical emergencies, especially since the language barrier is a constant challenge.

"Nagbibigay kami ng reports to them and they can show it to psychiatric hospital na na-diagnose na by a Filipino doctor kasi mas comfortable silang makipag-usap yung pasyente with a Filipino doctor,” added Dr Lyka Plata, who was part of the Telepsychiatry study.

"Mas madali ang Muslim psychiatrist sa Muslim na recipient dahil may communication barrier (with foreign doctors),” said Mr. Gregorio Candelario, Jr. of the Southern Philippine Medical Center who led the project.

Meanwhile, the DOST also highlighted the LISA robot which is designed to help medical practitioners with their patients.

"The LISA robot is being developed to enable healthcare workers to perform mundane tasks such as delivering documents, samples, medicines within healthcare facilities through remotely controlled robot,” Solidum said.

"We were developing the project since peak ng pandemic,” said Eng. Anthony James Bautista who helped develop the LISA robot.

“Nung unang nilabas namin yung units, it was working using remote controlled system or yung mga radio transmitter. Pero ngayon, naglagay na kami ng mga sensors or additional technology where the robot can now navigate autonomously dun sa facilities ng hospitals, clinics ng ating mga pasyente. Mina-map nya muna o sine-save niya muna sa memory niya yung environment. Pag na-save na niya, kaya na niyang mag navigate,” Bautista added.

The LISA robot is equipped with android apps that allow the robot to communicate with the user.

DOST hopes that the robot can be developed further so it can be used by patients who do not have access to doctors, and those who could not go to hospitals.

"I could imagine itong LISA robot na ito ay pwede ding maging assistant sa bahay.. mga disabled people halimbawa o yung mga may special needs. Baka pwede nating i-program din ang LISA robot, we are willing to fund this,” DOST-PCHRD Executive Director Dr. Jaime Montoya said.

Official said, the robot is still being improved, especially in terms of its robustness and overall performance.

"May mga pasyente na namamatay na di man lang nakakakita ng doktor,so isa sa focus ng team namin na gawing very affordable ang robot,” Bautista promised.