Providing high-quality, convenient, confidential, and comprehensive health care for the patient through telemedicine—Medgate Philippines

Article by CIO Bulletin,

Recently, telemedicine became remarkably important due to the increased deployment and development of digital technologies. Also, during the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare consumers altered their expectations for what healthcare will look like in the future.

Healthcare’s digital front doors are opening up access, and providers are adopting telemedicine technology to meet the growing demands of risk-free convenient, and cost-effective access to care. Welcome to our new normal—the age of the digital doctor’s office.

Today, as we think about how care can be delivered in a contactless environment, many providers realize that a vast majority of visits can be done virtually, either by a phone call or through a video conference. As a result, they’re now evaluating their end-to-end care delivery models with an eye toward which visits can be done online versus in person.

Telemedicine is bridging the gap between people, physicians, and health systems, enabling everyone, primarily symptomatic patients, to stay at home and communicate with physicians through virtual channels, helping reduce the spread of the virus to mass populations and the medical staff on the frontlines.

One of the top companies providing stellar telemedicine services across the Philippines is Medgate. They are the leading provider of telemedicine in Switzerland and Germany and has been operational in Switzerland for over 21 years and almost six years in the Philippines. Medgate currently covers over 1.6 million enrolled members in the Philippines.

Following are excerpts from the conversation with Stavros Athanasiou, President of Medgate Philippines

Q. How long has Medgate been in the field of telemedicine, and what services does Medgate offer?

Medgate has over 21 years of experience in the telemedicine industry handling over 12 million teleconsultations globally. In that period, we have led innovation in telemedicine across various markets through high-quality consultations, monitoring, and management of services delivered.

In the Philippines, Medgate has been operating since 2016, catering to a membership base of over 1.6 million Filipinos across various industries. Our services focus on 24/7 teleconsultations for all non-life threatening and non-emergency health concerns. Especially in today’s digital age, we ensure having multiple touchpoints for patients to conveniently call our doctors anytime and anywhere—be it over the phone, social media, our website, and our upcoming mobile app.

Q. What is your major contribution to the telemedicine industry?

With Medgate being over 21 years in the industry, our doctors have developed statistically-based clinical guidelines over time. This contributes additional knowledge and guidance for medical practitioners to diagnose and treat telemedically. Additionally, telemedicine allows doctors with multiple specialties to co-manage individual cases to provide the highest quality of teleconsultation. Apart from this, all consultations are recorded, ensuring monitoring and management of the quality-of-service delivery.

Q. How does Medgate make innovations in the healthcare industry?

Being in the industry for over 21 years, Medgate has taken the lead in introducing innovation in telemedicine services across various markets globally through high-quality consultation and monitoring and managing the quality of service delivered.  

Medgate in the Philippines has a member base of more than 1.6 million, who have been members of the company’s partners in the banking, health, and insurance industries since 2016, enabling medical co-management of individual cases.

Additionally, Medgate Philippines is one of two companies accredited by the Department of Health and the National Privacy Commission to provide free telemedicine services to Filipinos to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 during enhanced community quarantine. 

Medgate will continue innovating and growing its telemedicine core business as new technologies emerge. The advent of 5G broadband should make for an immersive high-resolution video experience, further enhancing patients’ experience. Advances in wearables, especially those with the ability to capture body temperature, blood pressure, and even blood sugar, will usher in a new wave of customers. Medgate will soon be integrating artificial intelligence into its processes to increase safety, accuracy, and efficiency using anonymized data. 

Q. How is your Tele-treatment program unique?

Medgate’s tele-treatment is unique because Medgate employs statistically-based clinical guidelines based on its over 12 million teleconsultations. These guidelines allow a General Practitioner to treat a dermatological case, or an Internist to treat a pediatric patient, etc. Medgate does not rely solely on the knowledge of an individual doctor. Instead, our doctors can lean on the body of work that our entire global organization generates, so our doctors can confidently diagnose and treat our patients. Medgate is not medically liable for any delivered teleconsultation over the past 21 years.

Apart from this, all the documents we issued contain a QR code for authenticity and fraud prevention. To prevent fraudulent consultations, we use tools that detect googled photos vs. genuine photos, digital rights management software to prevent unauthorized access to documents, and reporting protocols to report cases of suspected fraud to insurers and employers.        

Q. How can you address customers’ data privacy and security concerns on telemedicine apps?

We annually review our policy and practice to ensure compliance with current national laws (Data Privacy Act 2012) and ensure that our policies are publicly available via our website. Consent is asked before any consultation may occur. 

Restrictions in terms of providing reports and data analytics to our clients are also highly implemented, such as providing reports and data for trending and data analytics that are anonymized; and not sharing data with any 3rd party unless there’s an explicit written request from the client or unless legally required.

Our patients receive documents in which security measures are in place, such as placing QR codes and watermarks in PDF format to prevent modification of medical documentation.

Our database is encrypted and is only accessible by authorized personnel. We also archive information regularly using encryption mechanisms. Our access to digital and sensitive information is restricted to medical information and patient histories. Only current case and patient history are available during the consultation, plus, only selected staff with the correct credentials may access the patient database for organizational, reporting, and quality assurance purposes. Users of Medgate platforms must also use multiple-factor authentication.

Q. How are you using patient healthcare data as a competitive advantage?

The patient data that we gather gives information to match the number of specialists needed based on the demand and trend. This will also help us identify should we need additional modules to be included when training our pool of doctors. We optimize our communication materials patterned based on the present demographics in terms of communication. Additionally, we can expand our services which aim to focus on providing early intervention and prevention to our members even when they are not sick. 

Artificial Intelligence will be the next big step after smartphone technology. In fact, many providers, including Medgate, already employ these. Medgate doctors diagnose and treat cases based on statistically-based clinical guidelines driven by artificial intelligence engines to help our doctors. Taking anonymized data from over 12 million consultations, we employ AI and machine learning to help our doctors confidently determine our patients’ best course of action.

One of the leaders ushering in a change in healthcare

Stavros Athanasiou is the President of Medgate Philippines, a telemedicine company that aims to provide accessible healthcare to millions of Filipinos. Concurrently on being the President of Medgate Philippines, Stavros is also the Chief Financial Officer and Corporate Secretary for TMIP Holdings Pty Limited, a holding company for telemedicine operations located in Asia. Since his appointment in 2015, he has overseen the set up and deployment of the regional accounting systems and reporting frameworks.

Stavros earned his Master of Accounting at University of Technology Sydney and a Master of Taxation through the University of New South Wales. He is currently undertaking a Master of Public Health from Monash University.

Before commencing himself to Medgate Philippines via TMIP Holdings Pty Limited, he served as the Chief Financial Officer for Rantarna Pty Limited, a private investment vehicle for a private equity firm. Stavros has also been responsible for controlling investments in a number of entities in telecommunications, leasing and telecommunications activities.

“With Medgate, you can Call Doc, Anywhere, Anytime. No Line.”