DOST’s Smarter Philippines Program Aims for Smarter Health

DOST’s Smarter Philippines Program Aims for Smarter Health


Dr. Jaime Montoya, Executive Director of the Philippine Council of Health Research and Development (PCHRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) shared initiatives of the Smarter Philippines Program for ICT-enhanced healthcare delivery at a forum on “Transformative Health Research: Innovative Technologies for National Development,” organized by the UP Manila National Institutes of Health.

Developed by DOST,

[pq]…the Smarter Philippines program framework included the component, Smarter Healthcare: The Philippine e-Health Development Plan 2013-2017.[/pq]


Dr. Montoya also said that the PCHRD team comprised the Health Excel Team for the program.

According to Dr. Montoya, the term “Smarter Philippines” was adopted at the program launch in February 2012 in Davao City, to capture current initiatives in using ICTs to benefit Filipinos. He said that a technology-supported development framework “…covers so many areas: good governance, economic growth, human development, social protection – all of which leads to inclusive growth,” which is one of the targeted outcomes of the Aquino administration.

He presented the six categories of national-level programs (Smart Economy, Smart I-Gov, Smart People, Smart Living, Smart Environment, Smart Economy) and two categories of geographically-based programs (Smart Cities and Smart Countryside) that make up Smarter Philippines.  Dr. Montoya showed Smarter Healthcare as a sub-component of the Smart Living program category.

Dr. Montoya then introduced a video presentation titled, “Fast-tracking Universal Healthcare through e-Health” which was initially presented to the Cabinet Cluster on Poverty.

The five minute video opened with a listing of the symptoms of an ailing health information system, together with a range of consequences from this invalid state of affairs which included poor patient record keeping, to lack of data where it matters most – the health service facility.

The video then presented DOH and DOST initiatives to address these challenges: The Philippine e-Health Strategic Framework and Plan and the Philippine Health Information Exchange, which aims to “have a system of inter-operable health-related information, databases and registries linking all health services, users and providers.”

Going into detail on PHIE, the video illustrated the system’s architecture, and zoomed in on the technology keystone in its foundation, the RxBox. Developed by doctors and engineers from the University of the Philippines, the RxBox is a “multi-component device designed to provide better access to life-saving health care services.”

Currently deployed in 20 Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA) sites in the Philippines,

[pq]…the RxBox performs a range of diagnostics from measuring a person’s body signs, to detection of non-communicable diseases, to monitoring fetal heart rate and maternal contractions.[/pq]


This data can then be communicated to health experts and facilities off-site.

With such technology in place within the PHIE, immediate, remote diagnosis and treatment can be made possible, bringing the program that much closer to the goal of “BEST QUALITY HEALTH CARE. ANYTIME, ANYWHERE!”

Dr. Julie Hall, WHO representative to the Philippines is quoted in the video as saying “Being able to access communities in remote and rural areas is very challenging. The launching of the Philippine e-Health Framework and Plan pushed the Philippines way ahead of other countries.”

After the video presentation, Dr. Montoya acknowledged the collective efforts of program contributors. “The UP system has been instrumental (in this initiative).” He also lauded the willingness and support demonstrated by the Department of Health. “I know it’s a hard task for them to adopt this because it changes everything they have been used to doing previously,” Dr. Montoya said.

Finally, Dr. Montoya closed with a final call for ICT-supported health service and delivery: “Let’s look forward to more things to look forward to for e-Health.”


–  Liezl Formilleza-Dunuan