DOH eyes telemedicine to decongest hospitals

WITH several hospitals already declaring full capacity, the Department of Health (DOH) is eyeing telemedicine for primary care consultations.

In a statement, the DOH said they are now finalizing guidelines on how to best utilize telemedicine given that many hospitals are experiencing a surge of consults from people experiencing symptoms similar to those caused by the novel coronavirus.

"The Department of Health is currently finalizing guidelines that will further promote use of teleconsultation," said the DOH.

Ahead of the guidelines on telemedicine, the DOH said it has already forged partnerships with KonsultaMD and Medifi, which have both expressed willingness to provide free telemedicine services.

The agency is looking at how to match health professional volunteers to telehealth providers/companies as well as link telehealth initiatives with the regional/provincial/local epidemiological surveillance teams to facilitate contact tracing and surveillance activities.

The guidelines would also ensure that protocols of telehealth providers/companies are aligned with latest DOH-approved algorithms.

These will also collect data to propose improvements in future iterations of PhilHealth's primary care benefit package.

The DOH said other telehealth providers/companies, who can provide free primary care teleconsultation from March to June 2020, may reach out to the agency via nationalehealthprogram@gmail.com. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)