DOST pushes eHealth technologies for smarter healthcare

By on February 20, 2014


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The Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) trailblazing projects for the health sector  took the spotlight at the First Philippine eHealth Summit held last February 4 at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City to pave the way for smarter healthcare by maximizing information and communications technology (ICT).

Using ICT for health, also known as eHealth, “is envisioned to transcend the constraints brought about by the country’s archipelagic setup and limited budget,” DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo said during the event.

DOST projects for smarter healthcare include the RxBox, eHealth Technology Assisted Boards for LGU Efficiency and Transparency (e-TABLET), and the Philippine Health Information Exchange (PHIE).

RxBox: Connecting medics

Developed by University of the Philippines Manila-National Telehealth Center and DOST, the RxBox is a medical device which enables health workers in remote communities to consult with medical experts in urban areas, thus providing better access to life-saving healthcare services in isolated and disadvantaged communities nationwide.

It has built-in medical sensors for monitoring blood pressure and blood oxygen levels, assessing the strength of contraction of the mother’s uterus, as well as electrocardiogram and fetal heart monitor.  The data acquired by the sensors are stored in the device and may be transmitted to a specialist as the need arises and upon patient’s consent.  The RxBox is currently deployed in 21 sites in the Philippines.

e-TABLET: Managing medical records

The e-TABLET, on the other hand, is a tablet-based electronic medical record system developed by Ateneo de Manila’s Institute of Philippine Culture and Ateneo Java Wireless and Competency Center.

Apart from being a platform for health workers to input and manage patient records, e-TABLET is also a decision-making tool for  local government units which are given access to summarized simple medical data in the tablet. Armed with real time information, LGUs can make decisions such as allocating resources and manpower to respond to a certain medical situation in their locality.  e-TABLETalso features a messaging system between the  mayor and the  municipal/city  health officer. The tablet is currently deployed in 10 sites, namely  San Jose Buenavista, Antique; Alcoy, Cebu; Sta. Rita, Pampanga; Isulan, Sultan Kudarat; Paombong, Bulacan; Anilao, Iloilo; Lal-lo, Cagayan; Dumalinao, Zamboanga del Sur; Guimba, Nueva Ecija; and Dinalupihan, Bataan.

PHIE: Centralized medical records

To further enhance the country’s healthcare delivery system, DOST and the Department of Health are also setting up the PHIE system by the end of 2014.  PHIE will provide centralized database of health and medical records nationwide, allowing a patient to retrieve his medical records from anywhere in the country. With this system, patients can save time and effort, and avoid expenses from unnecessary or duplicate examinations.

Enhancing eHealth via TVWS connectivity

To ensure that the full benefits of eHealth can be realized, the DOST through its Information and Communication Technology Office (ICTO) is working to expand internet connectivity in far-flung areas. In particular, DOST-ICTO is tapping into the potential of TV White Spaces (TVWS) , or unused frequencies between broadcast TV channels,  to provide an extremely cost effective means for internet connectivity and data delivery in areas underserved by  telecommunications companies.

Aside from eHealth, DOST-ICTO also aims to maximize TVWS technology for applications in environmental sensor networks, educational content delivery, and government information systems.