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House Panel Approves Measures to Establish Philippine eHealth System

The proposed measure creating the country’s electronic health system has passed the first hurdle in the House of Representatives.

According to a recent press release, the technical working group (TWG) of the House committee on health recently convened, even while Congress is on a month-long recess, to approve proposals that seek to establish the Philippine eHealth System and Services.

The TWG Head and Committee Vice-Chair explained that they consolidated the proposed measures to a substitute bill and harmonised it with the recently signed implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act (RA) 11223 or the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act.

Consolidating and Addressing Concerns

The basic policies of the bills are the same, which is to utilise technology infrastructure to ensure better delivery of medical services to all Filipinos.

During the meeting, the lawmakers addressed concerns raised by health officials that the proposed measure might be rendered redundant by RA 11223.

A representative of the Knowledge Management and Information Technology Service (KMITS) of the Department of Health (DOH) explained to the members of the TWG that there might be some provisions indicated in the recently signed UHC IRR.

However, they believe that there are other major provisions that need to be taken up in a separate bill.

The KMITS representative added provisions, such as the bills on governance and accountability mechanisms, which direct and regulate the practice of eHealth and the various technologies under it; the transformation of their office into a bureau; and ensuring the continuous investments and financing of eHealth initiatives across the country.

Issues raised during the meeting will be addressed in the version of the bill to be approved by the committee when session resumes next month.

In pushing for the measure, lack of information and medical record of Filipinos were reportedly cited.

For Filipinos in general, it is not usual practice to keep such documentation, whether of previous check-ups, diagnostic test results, medication, treatments and procedures done, among others.

The government should give emphasis and priority to assist Filipinos in record-keeping and making medical history available.

Philippine Health Passport System

The House Speaker proposed the creation of a Health Passport System, which provides each Filipino with a document that reflects each individual’s full medical history and other relevant data.

This will be a handy tool, which can be essential in saving lives, in the event of emergencies.

Under his bill, all Filipino citizens shall be entitled to a health passport to be used when a patient avails of medical and dental check-ups or treatment provided in government or private medical institutions.

The proposed health passport shall be a mobile record booklet of the patient containing the following information on the patient’s medical and dental history as recorded by the physician, dentist or authorised health professionals:

  1. Medical and dental test results
  2. Diagnostics
  3. Medicines and medical treatments availed of
  4. Basic medical data
  5. Information on all medical and health-related benefits provided by law
  6. Information regarding the patient’s medical rights and privileges under the passport system
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