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Philippines: Unlocking the Hidden Gem of Telemedicine

28 Sep 2021 | Philippines

Providing accessible and high-quality healthcare services in the Philippines has been a long-awaited concern that needs to be addressed. The complexity underlying the Philippines' underdeveloped healthcare sector was due mainly to unequal infrastructure distribution and shortages of doctors.

As a result, the country got severely overwhelmed during the COVID-19 pandemic, recording over 2.4 million cases and 37.000 fatalities to date.

Telemedicine allowed the Philippines' healthcare sector to navigate as hospitals prioritize COVID-19 case handling by providing remote healthcare services and connecting healthcare professionals to outpatients, eventually easing the burden of conventional healthcare providers and supporting the country amid the global crisis.

2020 forced healthcare systems globally to adapt to mobile deliveries as measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Today, telemedicine's popularity continues to increases due to the shift in consumers' preference in technologies and online ways to live.

Responsive measures

The Philippines has responded to the demand for telemedicine by accommodating consumers for teleconsultation through several channels of the COVID-19's hotlines.

The country's telemedicine market is now crowded with several dominating private and public players due to the recent introduction of the Philippines E-Health and Telemedicine Development Act, regulating the delivery of health services specifically from the information and communications technology (ICT) perspectives. However, the regulations were arguably subject to future iterations, considering the nascent stage of telemedicine in the Philippines.

The Philippines' government has also established initiatives as a temporary complement to the lack of a formal framework covering telemedicine's business ecosystem.

One of the more effective approaches from the Philippines' government was developing telemedicine infrastructures and partnerships to finance e-health players, further allowing exponential growth to the industry in the coming years.

Challenges along the way

Laboratory

However, the progress of telemedicine in the Philippines encounters significant challenges, including the poor internet connectivity in rural areas of the country and the lack of digital literacy for its citizens. A large part of the Philippines' schools lacks internet access and digital-focused educative activities, resulting in a mere 30 percent of computer usage in the population.

Moreover, the Philippines also provides a comparatively low internet speed than neighboring countries, preventing telemedicine services from reaching their optimum potentials.

The lack of access to technology and digital literacy is one of the most crucial barriers between the people and accessible telemedicine healthcare services Philippines regardless of its potential as the main alternative to conventional healthcare services.

As countries globally are racing towards total digitalization in their sectors, specifically on healthcare services, the Philippines' vision to realize telemedicine's massive opportunities lies in the country's infrastructure development.

The nascent telemedicine sector in the Philippines, alongside a supportive governmental approach in bringing forth the industry, makes the country an attractive destination for businesses and investors seeking to grab the market share.

Developed countries around the globe have proven the importance of telemedicine sectors, allowing the industry to flourish over the years.

The Philippines poses an entirely underdeveloped sector likely to succeed due to the urgency of its nature. With consistent and resilient development of regulations revolving around telemedicine, the country's sector would likely see significant changes in a positive light.

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