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PhilHealth Taps Social Media for SHI Advocacy May 23, 2012

Like, twit, tag, twitpic, wall. In this age of social media networking, who wouldn't be familiar with these terms?

Admittedly, the Internet plays an integral part in our everyday lives, especially for us Filipinos, because of its wide range of usability and the access to information and communication that it provides, no matter where we are.

Social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter have been in the market for quite some time now and both are highly accepted worldwide as the new media not only in connecting, interacting and socializing with friends and acquaintances but in establishing business partners all over the globe, as well.

It is precisely this usability and cost-efficiency that have prompted even government agencies like the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to similarly tap the power of social media in getting the message across in the soonest time possible. As the primary social health insurance provider in the country, PhilHealth recognizes the need to keep its millions of members locally and overseas to stay abreast with developments, especially on the benefits they are entitled to. As such, it was inevitable for the organization to go into Facebook and Twitter, and as soon as it announced its online presence, the official accounts were deluged with inquiries, complaints, requests, and a lot more, thanks to the interactive nature of both communication platforms.

PhilHealth has initiated a Facebook account to enable it to touch base with its primary clientele, the OFWs. The Facebook account of the SPD was the bridge that made it possible for OFW-members to get almost-instant responses to their pressing PhilHealth concerns, especially if their kin in the country is about to check out of the hospital.

"Distance is never an impediment in bringing OFWs closer to us. We made use of various channels to provide them with the information they need particularly on their PhilHealth benefits," says PhilHealth President and CEO Dr. Eduardo P. Banzon.

Today, both the OWP-PhilHealth and the corporate account on Facebook are swamped with questions and requests for assistance from members all over the world. Among the more common posts from OFWs are requests for the printout of their Member Data Records (MDR), what their PhilHealth numbers are, where to pay their premiums overseas, and specific concerns pertaining to the confinement of a dependent in the Philippines. On the other hand, the corporate account has posts that range from inquiries on status of their claims for refund and online registration, complaints about acceptability of application documents and availment conditions to requests for PhilHealth numbers.

PhilHealth recognizes the strong impact of social networking sites to every Filipino and is continuously taking strides to maintain its presence among members in the farthest places. To ensure that concerns of FB "friends" and Twitter "followers" are given prompt answers, personnel who are well-versed on the fundamentals of the National Health Insurance Program manage the accounts. Constructive criticism and other feedback are also welcome. After all, the organization needs to know how it is doing, especially now that it is embarking on an aggressive move to expand and further enhance its services.

"The more passionate we are in keeping our services accessible and available to all our OFW members, the more we desire to reconnect with them by expanding our social network and building a strong online community. This is one way of attaining the objective of our battlecry: Bawat Pilipino Miyembro, Bawat Miyembro Protektado, Kalusugan Natin Segurado" Banzon said.

Visit and OWP-PhilHealth and follow PhilHealth on Twitter, @teamphilhealth for more updates. (END) (Michelle S. Nisperos)

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