Healthcare in the Philippines is going through important changes – some good and some bad. Life expectancy is up, but we also failed to meet targets on maternal and child health under the Millennium Development Goals.
Fertility is down. Infectious diseases like cholera and dengue are re-emerging – brought on by overflowing urban populations and climate change – and old ones like HIV/AIDS are reaching epidemic levels in Cebu, Davao, and Manila.
This is exacerbated by the fact that access to quality healthcare has long been a problem in the Philippines. The quality of healthcare is wildly inconsistent from hospital to hospital, and between urban and rural areas. Meanwhile, out-of-pocket spending on healthcare as of 2014 was at 81.7 percent per the World Health Organization, far above the 45.5 percent global average.
Faced with these challenges, some of our best hospitals have begun looking closely at medical informatics, or health informatics, as a critical part of the solution. Defined by the US National Library of Medicine as “the interdisciplinary study of the design, development, adoption and application of IT-based innovations in healthcare services delivery, management and planning”, medical informatics offers unprecedented means of collecting, packaging, and analysing clinical data to improve the quality of healthcare.
Among these hospitals, perhaps the most committed to data-driven healthcare is Asian Hospital and Medical Center (AHMC). While many decision-makers in the health sector struggle to realize the benefits of information technology (IT), AHMC has gone beyond simply going digital to leveraging advanced analytics that promise better outcomes for the hospital’s patients at a lower total cost of care.
Exceeding international standards of care
“We look at digital and IT as a means of providing value healthcare,” says Dr. Juan Antonio Javellana, Director of Medical Informatics at AHMC. “Integrating these technologies with modern medicine allows us to treat patients better and more quickly, as we deal with changing risk factors and new infectious diseases.”
AHMC began its journey towards data-driven healthcare by going digital in its medical record system –by itself a significant step forward from most of the paper-reliant health industry. After AHMC received its second Gold Seal of Approval from Joint Commission International in September 2016, Chief Quality Officer Dr. Jose Acuin called on the hospital to improve efficiency and service delivery though an integrated information system.
Said Dr. Acuin: “What we need to achieve is quality beyond accreditation. We shouldn’t be satisfied with simply meeting standards of care – we should exceed them.”
Treating patients more efficiently and quickly
The Medical Informatics team took on this challenge by rolling out a comprehensive plan for AHMC to achieve a kind of healthcare that had IT-enabled data and analytics at its heart. They realized that the hospital would not be able to provide the best care to patients if they didn’t have an accurate picture of what diseases were being treated each day and the state of patients when the left the hospital.