Manila, October 2019 - Since 2012, healthcare costs in the Philippines have surpassed per capita GDP growth and hit an increase of 20% in just a span of two years. Total health expenditure grew from PHP 593 billion in 2015 to PHP 712 billion in 2017.
Digitization in healthcare can address gaps including rising health care costs, lack of human resources and infrastructure in the Philippines, according to YCP Solidiance’s latest report titled "Can Digitization Fix the Philippines' Healthcare Challenges?"
The change of lifestyle among Filipinos, mainly affected by the rise of technology, has translated to a higher risk for diseases and increased demand for healthcare services. The country also recorded the highest prevalence rate for communicable diseases (CDs) among its Southeast Asian neighbors, while it ranked second to Thailand for non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
The increasing prevalence and complexity of diseases and other health conditions in the Philippines, among other reasons, result in rising healthcare costs. In 2017, household out-of-pocket spending was recorded at 54.5%, amounting to PHP 372.8 billion. The majority or about 50.1% was spent on buying medicines.
Although digitization efforts in the industry are slowly gaining momentum, they still continue to be fragmented. Due to the lack of industry standards governing digitization efforts, digital health technologies such as EMRs are not yet utilized to its full functionality. To address this issue, digitization across all systems owned by the healthcare stakeholders is considered as one of the mechanisms that must be implemented while ensuring compliance with the regulations.
Recommendations for a Future Digital Transformation
There are three main recommendations for better collaboration among related stakeholders in the industry:
Technology providers: to tap on the resources from HMOs, insurance, and big pharmaceutical firms to a wider customer base and further improve their technology. In return, the companies can invest in these IT firms, augmenting their services and increasing their research development capabilities.
The government: increase participation from the private sector through incentives, attracting more innovative firms to get access to more digital expertise.
Healthcare providers: choose the right IT partner to support their system digitization. By following comprehensive selection criteria, the healthcare providers are effectively creating demand for products and services that meet industry standards.
The study also indicates notable collaborations and early adopters which indicate a positive outlook for digitization in the health care industry: