THE digitization of health care services is becoming urgent to ensure the efficient rollout of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law, for which the guidelines have recently been released, officials said.

Representative Angelina D. Tan of Quezon’s fourth district told BusinessWorld that her next priority is to fast-tracking the eHealth Bill at the House of Representatives. Ms. Tan, who is the author of the UHC Law, said she has formed a technical working group (TWG) that will start discussing the eHealth Bill this week.

“We will have a TWG scheduled on Oct. 15… It’s an important component to the Universal Health Care Law… health information should be digitized. We want that portability of health information of each Filipinos and it should be inter-operable so that will be easier,” she said.

“It will be much more effective and efficient for delivering health services.”

The eHealth Bill was first approved by the House during the 17th Congress but did not reach the Senate before the Congress ended.

The bill hopes to provide telemedicine and ePharmacy services.

Ms. Tan said refiling the bill in the 18th Congress could result in passage by the end of the year.

She added, “We can pass this bill before we take a break in December. Hopefully we pass this up to the plenary and then we will wait if this will be elevated to the Senate.”

Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III also told BusinessWorld that improved IT systems in health care is critical especially with the UHC Law now in place.

“Digital health will play a big role. Digital systems will provide efficiency in health care services to our people especially those who live in far flung areas… That is where it is needed,” he said.

Last week, the Department of Health (DoH) and PhilHealth Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) released the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the UHC Law. Under the UHC Law, every Filipino will be an automatic member of PhilHealth.

Under Section 36 of the UHC Act, all health service providers and insurers are required to maintain a “health information system” in line with DoH standards, featuring capabilities like enterprise resource planning, human resource data, electronic health records, and an electronic prescription log. — Gillian M. Cortez