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PhilHealth Revolutionizes Health IT; Sets Agenda for Personally-Controlled Health Records using Open Source System December 11, 2012

In an effort to ensure access of all its members to health care services, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) launched the Primary Care Benefit (PCB) first for its sponsored program members, organized groups, and overseas workers last April 2012 and will eventually be rolled out for all types of members.

The PCB is currently provided in government health centers, rural health units and outpatient departments of government hospitals (PCB providers), but private health care providers will be brought in as the PCB is expanded to all member types. To date, 5.2 million families under the National Household Targeting Survey are enrolled in the more than 1600 PCB providers around the country.

One of the innovations in the PCB is the requirement for electronic reporting. For 2012, PhilHealth partnered with the University of the Philippines IT Development Center and University of Oslo to implement the District Health Information System (DHIS2) to serve as the receiving system for reports coming from the PCB providers. PhilHealth allocated more than 3 billion pesos for the PCB in 2012 with PCB providers expected to eventually submit electronic reports.

Commencing 2013, PhilHealth will release specification for a personally-controlled health record (PCHR) that will allow the sponsored members to manage their own health information. This shift in health data management is expected to create a refocus on the patient as the center of care and likewise stimulate a whole new business sector on health data stewardship. A personally-controlled health record is owned by the patients and is co-managed with their health providers. The PCHR will empower patients to take care of their own health data and use it for decision making. The PCHR will also be designed as a secure repository for health information for individuals and their families -- an important compliance requirement of the recently passed Data Privacy Act of 2012.

"Disease prevention and health promotion especially of our sponsored members are important to us at PhilHealth. The national government through the Department of Health has invested on the premium of more than 5 million families nationwide. We wish to empower our members to take charge of their family's health and make informed decisions through proper data management," says Dr. Eduardo P. Banzon, President and CEO of PhilHealth.

Challenged with resources and a requirement to implement in three months, PhilHealth partnered with the academe to quickly implement a free and open source reporting system that receives reports from the PCB providers. "We selected DHIS2 because of its long history of success in Africa and for easy access to its core developers in Oslo, India, and Vietnam. The University of the Philippines provides local technical support and ready expertise in systems administration. With DHIS2, PCB providers can submit their data by logging on to the PhilHealth's DHIS2 server from their Internet-connected computers including mobile phones," added Dr Alvin Marcelo, Chief Information Officer. "Next year, PhilHealth will shift to personally-controlled health records in order to simplify case management and to equip individuals and their families to be more responsible for their health."

The PCB eReporting system is PhilHealth's response to the Aquino Health Agenda's mandate to use information and communications technology to make the health sector more efficient.

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