System intelligence, enabler for primary health care

The Department of Health (DOH) sees system intelligence ensuring the interoperability of health information within networks as an enabler for primary health care.

Christian Edward Lim Nuevo, chief health program officer of the DOH Disease Prevention and Control Bureau, cited as an example where results of a patient’s medical tests provided by one facility are available in a hospital, thus there is no need to repeat tests.

“So it really is about integrating information and making sure they are shared within networks,” he said in a virtual forum organized by the Livable Cities Lab.

Nuevo said the DOH Disease Prevention and Control Bureau is moving toward integrating its individual disease based registries, adding it has now information for tuberculosis, human immunodeficiency virus, animal bites, malaria, among others.

“All of those follow vertical programs but we are trying to break away from that towards an integrated disease prevention and control information system, and break away from vertical programs towards life stage approaches,” he said.

“So in the coming years, you can expect some information system platforms, apps, and online trackers that will display these changes in our paradigm also in disease prevention,” he added.

Nuevo also underscored the benefits of analytics in primary health care, including in electronic medical records, insurance data, imaging results, genome data, public health data, drug data, family health history, mobile health data, environmental data, and electronic medical records.

Aside from ensuring the interoperability of health information within networks, other enablers for primary health care are improving health care literacy, defragmenting the local health system, expanding primary care facilities, increasing primary care worker capacity and competencies, standardizing care, and aligning incentives, he said.

“Those are some of the key activities, key reforms that the central office in partnership with LGUs (local government units) are currently pursuing,” he added.

Nuevo cited the importance of working on these key reforms with the private sector.

“As we know around 60 percent of our service delivery capacity in the Philippines is brought by the private sector and a huge, huge part of the response to the Covid (coronavirus disease) pandemic is really brought in also by the private sector so partnership within the public and private system is a non-negotiable,” he added.

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