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House panel approves proposed “National eHealth System and Services Act”

A substitute bill seeking to establish the National eHealth Systems and Services was approved by the Philippine House Committee on Health.

According to the recent press release, the Bill shall deliver health services through cost-effective and secure information and communications technology (ICT).

The proposed “National eHealth System and Services Act” provides for an organised and structured application of electronic health or “eHealth” integrated in the regular workflow of healthcare facilities.

Specifically, it seeks to utilise ICT to deliver health services which has the potential to be profitable, improve quality, change the conditions of practice, and improve access to healthcare, particularly in the rural and other medically underserved areas.

Moreover, the bill aims to facilitate the exchange and access to secured personal health information, ensure harmonisation or integration, alignment, and interoperability among various eHealth initiatives.

It will also facilitate inter-agency and inter-sectoral coordination at various levels of governance in both public and private sectors.

The measure mandates the Department of Health (DOH) as the lead agency to implement the Act.

It also provides for the creation of an inter-agency and multi-sectoral National eHealth Steering Committee to serve as an executive body of the Philippine eHealth System and Services (PNeHSS).

Among the changes approved and introduced in the substitute bill is the provision for public-private partnership of eHealth Services.

The bill mandates the DOH to promulgate the rules regarding the participation of the private sector in the provision of eHealth services and solutions, including public-private partnerships and other suitable arrangements.

An additional provision on research and development was introduced.

The approved measure now specifies that consistent with Republic 10532 or the “Philippine National Health Research System Act of 2013”, the Department of Science and Technology- Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) shall ensure the development of new eHealth solutions, services, and innovations.

This will be done in coordination with the DOH, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), PhilHealth, specialty societies, and non-government institutions.

This shall be accomplished through a plethora of ways.

One is through the formulation of expanded eHealth research priority areas under the National Unified Health Research Agenda (NUHRA).

Second is through the establishment of knowledge hubs and research centres for eHealth that study, among others, capacity building, health technology assessment, knowledge management, standards development, and research utilisation.

Furthermore, the approved bill details violations of the Act and corresponding liabilities and penalties.

Examples of violations include the unauthorised processing of personal information; the unauthorised processing of sensitive personal information; and accessing personal information and personal sensitive information due to negligence.

Other violations are the improper disposal of personal information and sensitive personal information; procession of personal information and personal sensitive information due to negligence for unauthorised purposes; unauthorised access or intentional breach; concealment of security breaches involving sensitive personal information; malicious disclosure; and unauthorised disclosure.

The Department of Health welcomes the new version of this Act because the future of health is being designed with eHealth or the use of information and communications technology (ICT) in health.

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