Juan is a 35 year old engineer, and he was sent in Mindanao to work and complete a project. Juan has been suffering with hypertension since his late twenties, due to atherosclerosis or major build up or deposits of fat cells in the passageway of his blood. One afternoon, Juan had a mild myocardial infarction (heart attack) and passed out, and he was immediately sent to the nearest hospital in the small town where he was working. Although unconscious, a certain drug was given to Juan to prevent further complication of his mild heart attack, however, a few minutes later, Juan expired due to narrowing of his airway.
Juan apparently had some adverse allergic reaction to the drug given.
Such situation may occur in an emergency, especially in cases that an unconscious patient without any relatives or companion was sent to a hospital or clinic that holds no records of him. If only medical records of Juan will be easily accessible to other health facilities that may possibly need it, this incident must have been prevented in the first place.
This is one of the many amazing promises of technology in healthcare, especially in the field of Health Informatics.
Hospital medication errors rates can be as high as 1.9% per patient per day (Mayo, Duncan, 2004), and Philippines can not surely be immune from this. This has been a major concern as well especially in remote areas where access to healthcare is limited, and contact with technology may be scarce.
But where are we in this digital shift in healthcare that is currently happening in the globe?
Propelling technology in the field of healthcare in the Philippines is still quite challenging. More so, Introducing Health Informatics to the general public still gets a slight raise of an eyebrow with a very intuitive look saying “what is that all about, and how do we benefit from it?”
Although technology has paved its’ way in our everyday lives – making mobile phones and computers somewhat of a necessity in a household, the essence of technology and its’ possible amazing promises in healthcare is not appreciated yet by many. Perhaps with the thought of most hospitals that this system might be costly, especially in maintenance, and integrating technology in a process that has been the practice for a long time would require trainings for familiarisation – which comes along again with cost and time. Ironically, a lot of people are willing to pay for technology that is solely for fun or luxury, but not for one’s health.
Albeit the many initiatives our government has started: eg CHITS (Community Health Information Tracking System), it’s safe to say that we are still in the infancy stage of introducing technology in healthcare. A huge chunk of precipitating factor to this slow progress is the big scarcity of health human resource that may be interested in this field who can perhaps serve as ambassadors of this revolution we’re starting in the healthcare system. Also, it’s quite of a challenge to keeping warm the IT professionals in the Philippines given the competition we have globally. Another aspect is that the program is only offered in one institution in the Philippines which is University of the Philippines – Manila.
In the hopes of completely gaining the attention and understanding of people, how do we really go about this, and what can we do as healthcare providers or anyone who is actually an advocate of health to nurture this infancy and help it grow and develop?
As one of my mentors always tell me, which I’ll be sharing here once more, to always remain a student of my craft, and with the almost daily vast and rapid advancement that’s happening in technology, adapting to its’ global trend is definitely necessary. As Health Informatics in the Philippines isn’t that well-known yet, we can’t just let our health care system continue to suffer the same issues encumbering progress we’re battling since before. That is why it is important to innovate, and to continue striving to improve a process and delivery.
Embracing the possibilities technology can offer is the first step in placing the e in the health of every Juan. If you immerse yourself in the hospital setting, you’d notice that most of the consultants are almost the baby boomers of the society. Not that I have a problem with that, but most of baby boomers are struggling with technology – and introducing new technology in the practice might be challenging to some. Although we have a lot of young, and tech-savvy clinicians, and healthcare professionals now, if the leaders of the institutions they are working for do not see the promises of technology in the healthcare setting, the thirst for change and advancement can be impeded. Enriching knowledge about healthcare informatics, and raising awareness is how we can address this. Enrichment of skills with latest trends in the setting would follow if the support for progress is given. Healthcare providers, the people, and also our government must all have the same mindset of valuing innovation in the practice, to continually improve the process, and improve the life of others.
(Disclaimer: Story shared about Juan is fictional)
- Marcelo A. Health Informatics in the Philippines. APAMI/MIST 2006 yearbook.Cain M &
- Mittman R. (Institute for the Future) Diffusion of Innovation in Health Care. May 2002.http://www.chcf.org/~/media/MEDIA%20LIBRARY%20Files/PDF/D/PDF%20DiffusionofInnovation.pdf
- Image created using piktochart.com