A MEASURE providing for the development of electronic health (E-Health) and telemedicine has been filed at the House of Representatives in aid of regions underserved by the medical community.

House Bill No. 7422, the proposed “Philippine E-Health and Telemedicine Development Act,” filed by Albay Representative Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda.

“Remote medicine services are essential in the time of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019),” Mr. Salceda said in a statement Tuesday.

Mr. Salceda also pushed for more attention to be paid to other diseases that are “deadlier and more debilitating” but were overtaken by the COVID-19 emergency.

Citing 2017 World Health Organization data, Mr. Salceda said there are 10.6 doctors per 10,000 Filipinos in  the National Capital Region and a national average of 3.9 doctors per 10,000.

The bill will establish the components of E-Health systems, which include providing services and applications to access healthcare and the establishment of an Information and Communications Technology infrastructure.

Mr. Salceda also said the bill will regulate the industry. Some business process outsourcing companies are currently providing telemedicine services.

“The Philippines currently has no regulatory framework for telemedicine and electronic health systems, although some telemedicine facilities have already established operations in the country,” he said.

The measure defines Telehealth and Telemedicine services as an approach to extend healthcare services through ICT to patients at a distance from health care providers.

The measure is also expected to reduce fraud within the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. system, which is now the center of Congressional investigations for alleged corruption.

“Telehealth is harder to defraud. You need to connive with more people, in an easily verifiable system, where anomalies can be identified with data analytics,” he said.

The bill authorizes the Department of Health to lead the National e-Health Steering Committee, with the Department of Information and Communication Technology among others.

Representatives from the health sector and patient group will also be included in the committee. — Charmaine A. Tadalan