THE HEALTHCARE industry should embrace the cloud to use data archiving, sharing, and analysis to solve issues such as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, said stakeholders at a recent webinar on healthcare innovations organized by the business arm of Globe Telecom, Inc. 

“Ninety-nine percent (of healthcare companies) in the Philippines still uses paper data,” said Marnie Tolosa, the senior partner development manager of Amazon Web Services (AWS) Philippines. 

Instead of reading over a thousand different papers — with each piece of paper data containing different data demographics — a service like Amazon’s can extract what is necessary for the healthcare professional to use. 

Data that is late, according to Mr. Tolosa, makes an impact on how healthcare providers operate, especially during a crisis. “It takes the whole ecosystem to actually serve this universe of customers,” he said. 

This includes telemedicine, which Dr. Bu C. Castro, medical director of Bernardino General Hospital II, said was “extremely important during the pandemic.” 

Digital technologies already exist to make healthcare more efficient, said Mr. Tolosa, citing AWS’s Amazon Comprehend Medical, a machine-learning algorithm that pulls out data based on specific categories. 

Integrated systems may be difficult to set up but they are beneficial in the long run, according to John Dave P. Dueñas, chief executive officer and Founder of HYBrain, a healthcare management software developer partnered with Globe Business. “Consumers increasingly expect seamless management of their information across their healthcare providers, from their doctors to their hospitals to their clinical laboratories to diagnostics and imaging, even up to their pharmacies,” he said. 

Mr. Dueñas noted the healthcare industry’s shift towards value-driven organization, which focuses on the customers’ needs rather than the supply of a particular service, is feasible only if there is an integrated hospital information system that includes doctors, their secretaries, the clinical labs, medical technologists, and pharmacies, among others. 

He cited The Digital Healthcare Leap, a paper by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) published in 2017, that showed the dilemma of deficit globally. “The Philippines was predicted to have a 1.1 million deficit of hospital beds and a 1.2 million deficit of medical healthcare professionals by 2035,” he said, pointing out that this prediction was pre-pandemic and hence much more urgent now, with information technology as a needed solution to bridge these large gaps. 

Quoting the same paper, he said: “In the new digital health era, digitally enabled care is no longer going to be a nice-to-have, but rather a fundamental business imperative.” — Brontë H. Lacsamana