Internet has been a critical medium to communicate. Driven by combination of mainstream and innovative Information and Communications Technology (ICT) solutions, the digital divide has been narrowed down, taking on even the delivery of healthcare services.
In the Philippines, doctors and medical practitioners can now diagnose and examine patients in far-flung communities, geographically isolated regions, or underserved areas via telemedicine, an interactive technology, which runs through the Philippine Research, Education and Government Information Network (PREGINET).
“ICT is one of the solutions in addressing problems of accessibility, quality, and cost of healthcare today,” said PREGINET technical head Bayani Benjamin R. Lara.
Telemedicine is a multiplatform technology, which uses videoconferencing facility, high-definition cameras, computers, among others, to remotely consult with doctors or diagnose patients. High quality operation footage and consultations rely on high-capacity research and education networks like PREGINET.
Said technology is not only a healthcare option which bridges the “doctor-patient geographical separation” in the Philippines being an archipelagic country, but also enables continuing education for doctors, caregivers, and other healthcare practitioners.
“Patients can be diagnosed or treated faster in a less costly treatment. Further, Filipino doctors can more easily obtain continuous education as local clinicians can easily consult or discuss with their colleagues here in he Philippines or specialists abroad,” Lara explained.
Due to PREGINET’s ceaseless efforts to boost telemedicine in the country, the First Philippine Telemedicine Network Symposium was conducted on July 09, 2016, which was attended by doctors, nurses, and IT engineers from several hospitals in the country which include St. Luke’s Medical Center, Philippine General Hospital, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Baguio General Hospital, University of Cebu Medical Center, Davao Doctors Hospital, Aborlan Medical Care, and the Veterans Memorial Medical Center.
A joint project of Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery Center of St. Luke’s Medical Center, Telemedicine Development Center of Asia of Kyushu University, and Trans-Eurasia Information Network (TEIN) Cooperation Center, the event aimed at developing a national medical network community through telemedicine, as well as discussing needs in telemedicine and common technology issues.
“This is a good start and with this, we are hoping that more hospitals in the Philippines will adopt telemedicine,” said Lara.
PREGINET is the only research and education network (REN) in the Philippines with links to international RENs such as the TEIN and Asia-Pacific Advanced Network. It is managed by the Advanced Science and Technology Institute, a research and development agency attached to the Department of Science and Technology.