Manila, Philippines – British Life Insurer PruLife UK, together with advisory firm Quisumbing Torres, completed a study that concluded the need for government agencies to work on regulatory changes in the health sector to encourage broader use of mobile health ("mHealth") technologies in the country.
According to the study, titled “Mobile Digital Health in the Philippines,” mHealth apps are widely used in America and is now growing in Southeast Asia. The study sees these apps as a possible solution to the current healthcare situation of the Philippines today.
“With unequal access and high cost of healthcare, high out-of-pocket spending, and prevalence of chronic conditions, we see that healthcare is a significant concern in the Philippines. We see an opportunity for the country to leverage mHealth technologies to make health accessible and affordable to all,” says Prudential Corporation Asia chief health officer Andrew Wong.
However, mHealth apps are facing “barriers to entry” in the Philippines. The study cited challenges such as the lack of clarity on the categorization of certain aspects of mHealth that may be subject to nationality restrictions; regulations on the practice of profession, value-added services, medical devices, and online sale of medicines; consumer protection, intellectual property; and data privacy issues.
The study also made the following recommendations:
Formulate rules and regulations that will set concrete and practical tests to determine whether the operator or provider of mHealth platforms or applications is doing business in the Philippines;
Clarify foreign equity restrictions to ensure that mHealth operators would not be deemed as engaging in mass media, advertising, or providing value-added services;
Introduce clear guidelines that will allow mobile consultation with medical professionals and online dispensing and selling of medicines;
Issue a unified and harmonized set of regulations providing for the guidelines for digital health in general and mHealth platforms and applications in particular;
Issue specific privacy guidelines covering the organizational, physical, system, and technical aspects of mHealth applications to reduce their risk of unauthorized use, processing, or access of personal data;
Offer tax and other incentives for mHealth operators to introduce the innovation in the Philippines; and
Integrate the data gathered and processed by mHealth applications into the health information system mandated under the Universal Health Care Act.
The whitepaper comes in a timely manner as the House of Representatives’ health committee recently approved measures for the establishment of a Philippine eHealth system. – Rappler.com