THE hospital group operates 16 hospitals with a combined capacity of 3,400 beds. — MIGUEL DE GUZMAN/PHILSTAR

By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

THE hospital unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) is planning to put up specialized hospitals in the country starting with one for children, its top official said.

“We really need to build specialty hospitals like children’s hospitals or for cancer; you know the common ailments of Filipinos such as cancer and diabetes,” MPIC Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said at BusinessWorld’s online interview on Wednesday.

“Our hospitals are looking at it now, and I think they are considering certain properties where we think we should be able to build a children’s hospital,” he added.

MPIC’s Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings, Inc. (MPHHI) operates 16 hospitals with a combined capacity of 3,400 beds across the country, including Makati Medical Center, Cardinal Santos Medical Center and Asian Hospital & Medical Center.

Mr. Pangilinan said the hospitals group will soon offer services through a digital platform. “The MPIC is now in the process of developing a full range of telemedicine platforms — something that we would like our hospitals group to adopt.”

He expects the platform to be ready after two or three months. “We will have to enroll the doctors, the hospitals group, and then make sure the app is well-designed.”

On July 7, MPHHI said in a statement that some of its hospitals already offer telemedicine solutions that were developed in-house. The group said its plan is to have a common platform for all MPHHI hospitals.

“We feel there are also operational benefits here. Hospitals can optimize the utilization of their bed capacity, improve the efficiency of health care workers, allow collaboration of medical teams from across different hospitals, and give remote hospitals access to more experienced medical practitioners in the bigger hospitals,” MPHHI Chief Information Officer Eriene C. Lao was quoted as saying.

Mr. Pangilinan said both the government and the private sector will have to improve their contact-tracing method, especially that the number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the country continues to surge.

He noted that PLDT Enterprise, the corporate business arm of PLDT, Inc., has been supporting government efforts to ramp up contact-tracing capacity for COVID-19 cases.

PLDT Enterprise said in a statement on Wednesday that it had enabled free access to contact-tracing app COVID KAYA developed by the Department of Health (DoH).

It said it was offering registered health workers free access and required connectivity for the app.

“Health care providers using this app can easily report cases to the DoH Epidemiology Bureau, allowing the health agency to handle case investigations and interview those who may have come in contact with infected individuals. The app’s real-time monitoring capability will show the bottlenecks and delays in patient services across the continuum of care,” PLDT Enterprise said.

MPIC is one of three Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being PLDT, Inc. and Philex Mining Corp. Hastings Holdings, Inc. — a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc. — maintains interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.