Telemedicine’s Potential Role in the Philippine Healthcare System

Ever wondered why it takes so long for you to see a doctor? Or why most doctors shuttle from one clinic to another to serve a multitude of patients? The answer is quite simple. There are not enough doctors to serve the public. According to Dr. Paulyn Ubial, DOH’s former secretary, “The Philippines has a ratio of one doctor to 33,000 persons.” Calling it a serious problem, is an understatement. Cuba has a far better ratio of one doctor for every 1,075 persons. In 2016, the DOH’s “Doctors to the Barrios” program was able to send 398 doctors to far-flung areas of the Philippines. However, they still lacked 116 doctors. Since compensation is a major issue, most doctors would choose to practice abroad, rather than stay and build their practice in the Philippines. The outcome is clear – crowded clinics and hospitals, long lines waiting for the doctor even for the simplest of illness, rushed consultations to cover more patients and increased cost because doctors order a lot of laboratory and diagnostic procedures to support their diagnosis.

So what can you do to help? Simple! Use telemedicine to address and treat common outpatient illnesses. But what is telemedicine? Telemedicine is a way to conduct medical consultations over the phone or through a customized mobile app via video conference calls. Be careful though. Not all telemedicine providers are the same. Medgate was founded in Switzerland almost 20 years ago with operations in Europe, Australia, Abu Dhabi, India, and the Philippines. During its years of worldwide operations, Medgate has developed statistically-based teletreatment guidelines so their doctors can address and treat non-emergency cases. In their Swiss office alone, they have conducted over 7 million consultations already. Good thing you have Medgate as your telemedicine provider.

What happens if I use telemedicine instead of going to the clinic or hospital? The immediate benefit would be convenience. Imagine not going through hours and hours of traffic or lining up at the clinic for a quick, ten-minute consultation. Because of telemedicine, you now have the opportunity to rest and recover. Tele-consultations conducted by Medgate’s doctors are thorough and detailed since medical governance is at the core of their practice. You also save on cost because you don’t have to pay for travel expenses to and from your house and clinic.

But the bigger picture is this – using telemedicine to get treatment means you are supporting the nation’s healthcare system and your fellow Filipinos in general. How? You are helping to declog clinics and hospitals because you are having medical consultations over the phone. This allows doctors in those clinics and hospitals to concentrate their time and efforts on emergency and complicated cases.

Remember! Telemedicine is not just a convenient way for you to have medical consultations, it also helps an ailing nation’s healthcare system.