UP Medical Informatics Unit: Telemedicine Guidance for Filipino Physicians and Patients

When Luzon was placed on enhanced community quarantine last March 15, most outpatient clinics were closed. For many years now, I’ve had a clinic phone where patients could SMS their concerns. But with this CoVID-19 pandemic, I also started giving email as an option for follow-up. My patients would send their lab requests and I could send them e-prescriptions (which FDA has allowed). Just last week, I also offered video follow-ups via doxy.me.

It soon became apparent that telemedicine will become the “new normal.” After the joint DOH-NPC memo on telemedicine came out, I saw that there was a gap in guidance. I gathered my MS Health Informatics grad students and alumni to help out.

We started on Slack Mar 27 and this was our first Zoom meeting before Holy Week. We promised to meet every Monday at 6 pm.

We released the first guidance document last April 23 – Telemedicine: Guidance for Filipino Physicians. It answered three questions:

  • Who can practice telemedicine?
  • What are the minimum competencies to practice telemedicine?
  • What are the minimum requirements to set up for telemedicine?

In this first document, gaps in legislation were identified. There have been three telehealth/ehealth bills filed in the past. I heard that Sen. Sonny Angara will be filing a telemedicine-related legislation soon. I hope this document will be useful.

The second document was released last April 29 – Teleconsultation: Guidance for Filipino Clinicians. It answered the following:

  • What are the different types of telemedicine consultations?
  • How is a virtual physical examination performed?
  • How can specialties utilize telemedicine?
  • How can we safeguard both the patient and physician in a teleconsultation?
  • What is the workflow in a typical patient-to-physician teleconsultation?

With the second document, I hope that medical specialty organizations will consider crafting specialty-specific (or even disease-specific) guidance soon as these will also be needed in the “new normal.”

These documents were brought to life on Google Docs and a back and forth through comments and on the ALL-MSHI Facebook messenger group. I am grateful to the my graduate students, our MIU alumni and faculty for joining me on this journey. We have more documents and more plans (online courses, webinars, training with certificates, publication etc) in the pipeline.

Please go to bit.ly/upmiutelemed2020 to access the guidance documents, and help the MIU by sharing them to others.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

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