British Embassy forum brings together healthcare stakeholders
(The Philippine Star) - December 14, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines’ growing population means there are more Filipinos in need of healthcare across the country’s cities and provinces spread across the archipelago. This challenge calls for innovative and more accessible healthcare, enhanced hospital programs, and more affordable medicines.

To answer the need for collaborative efforts for nationwide health, the British Embassy in Manila recently gathered public and private sector medical practitioners and decision-makers, pharmaceutical professionals as well as patient groups to engage in a dialogue on achieving quality healthcare in the country.

Panelists in the multi-sectoral forum included representatives from the Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and healthcare firms such as General Electric (GE) Healthcare, QualiMed Health Network, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Generika Pharmacy, and Smiths Medical.

Health Undersecretary Kenneth Hartigan-Go opened the forum by discussing the reforms that government agencies are undertaking to improve healthcare delivery in the country. Cost-effective and quality drugs, for one, are now made more available on the market.

“The National Center for Pharmaceutical Access and Management is looking at how to improve formulary inclusion into the list of innovative drugs that the government will buy, doctors may prescribe, and health insurances may reimburse,” explained Hartigan-Go. “At present, there are more than 20 new drugs in the formulary. Some drugs were taken out, as new, more affordable but equally high-quality drugs are included.”

The government also ensures that drugs are reasonably priced enough for Filipinos to be able to comply with the dosage prescribed by the doctor. “We’re looking into producing a reference price that will guide the local government in procuring sets of drugs within a certain price range so people will be more diligent in taking their medicine,” he added.

Improved processes for more efficient healthcare are also being implemented across DOH agencies such as upgrading network systems and improving the timeline for acquiring cosmetic product clearances and licensing of drugstores.

The private sector likewise presented their share of innovations and best practices that will help improve healthcare in the country. Noteworthy is GE Healthcare’s strategy in lowering the costs of diagnosing cancer via the PET CT scan. GE Healthcare is headquartered in the UK.

“Cancer is one of the top three diseases in the country and currently, we have only one facility with a cyclotron and PET CT scan — the highest quality diagnostic technology for cancer,” noted Ivan Alexi Arota, country manager of GE Healthcare Philippines. “This is why we introduced a business model that tied up a foreign investor with the government in setting up more of these technologies.”

The company initiated the public-private partnership between a Korean investor and the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), wherein the former will lease the latter’s land for a long-term period and build the facility that will house cyclotron and PET CT scan equipment provided by GE Healthcare.

“The target is to commission this by the end of the year. Once the system is set up at NKTI, it opens up the market for other hospitals to come in and acquire this technology as well,” said Arota as he also explained that acquisition costs will be lowered because the investor will offer a revenue share program with hospitals for the PET CT scans.

With partnerships and collaborations at the core of its business strategies, GE Healthcare has actively collaborated with the DOH as well. An example was during the aftermath of Yolanda in 2013, wherein the DOH and GE Healthcare conducted a joint medical mission in Tacloban. “We brought our handheld Vscan access ultrasound systems that immediately diagnosed over 1,200 patients of all ages right after the crisis,” recounted Arota.

The Vscan line of products is innovative and highly portable ultrasound tools that provide real-time black-and-white anatomic and color-coded blood flow images at the touch of a button.

GE dubs its healthcare mission as “healthymagination” — taking the challenges of providing quality, accessible, and affordable healthcare into the core of its business strategy to help people live healthier lives. “There is no one solution to the country’s healthcare needs. We need products, business models, and partnerships that address specific needs especially those of the masses,” observed Arota.





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