Medgate Philippines, a pioneer in the telecare space, is reaching out to as many health assistance and healthcare providers to help democratize remote health consultations and diagnoses, particularly to people who are less mobile and in this time of global health crisis.
Medgate Philippines country manager Ronald Estrella underscored a general observation that the health crisis crippled not only the health sector’s capacity to serve the sick and health-compromised, but also the public’s ability to commute to clinics and hospital.
The situation, he said, was exacerbated by the fact that there are only 40,000 doctors in the Philippines to serve over 100 million people based on the data released by the Philippine Medical Association in 2020.
“The problem that we face is the difficulty in accessing a doctor. This problem of access is primarily caused by three factors. One, there is a shortage of doctors with only 40,000 doctors to serve 110 million Filipinos. Second, the doctor is not available at the time of patient need. And lastly, the doctor is not available at the location of patient needs,” he said.
“The shortage of doctors results in long commute, at times, and a long time waiting in line for their turn. Both the commute and the waiting in line exposes patients to communicable diseases,” he said in an attempt to draw a visual of what usually happens when seeing a doctor face-to- face, both pre and during pandemic.
He said things were particularly difficult with many hospitals and clinics shutting down outpatient departments with inpatient care full to capacity during the enhanced community quarantine, both in 2020 and in 2021.
“Despite ECQ being relaxed into general community quarantine, we have found that the fear of going to clinics and hospitals persists with many people deferring medical care to a later time. This is a real problem because we know that early intervention reduces morbidity and mortality. Patients, shouldn’t be putting off consulting with a doctor,” Estrella said.
He said Medgate offers easy to use solution without the need for a face-to-face visit. Medgate services are available anywhere and anytime and at the fraction of a cost of the cost of face to face consultations.
Just last year, the telemedicine provider saw a 170-percent jump in the use of its services—leading to a total patient base of 1.5 million. In these consultations, Medgate employs a medical co-management approach where doctors with multiple specializations consult with a single case. This means that an internist may also treat a pediatric case to get a better background of and solution for a patient’s condition, contributing to high treatment rate for the provider.
Medgate viewed the growth as an initial step to creating more collaborations with health providers, foreseeing steady increase in demand in the near future. Medgate will continue to innovate and grow its telemedicine core business as new technologies emerge.
The advent of 5G broadband should make for an immersive high resolution video experience further enhancing the experience of patients. Advances in wearables, especially those with the ability to capture body temperature, blood pressure, and even blood sugar will usher in a new wave of customers.
Medgate Philippines created strong collaborations with the country’s leading HMO and health insurance companies including Intellicare and Generali. Through these partnerships, members can conveniently consult with a doctor on the Medgate platform 24/7, even having the option to have their prescribed medicines delivered.
Estrella revealed that the key technology of Medgate is its propriety telemedical ecosystem with a patient management system at its core that integrates e-medical record system, video conferencing, telephony, e-prescriptions and lab requests all in one easy to use platform used by Medgate doctors.
Doctors at Medgate undergo a minimum of 80 hours of training to get familiarized with the tools and methodology used on the platform before gaining the authority to treat patients telemedically. Medgate doctors undergo quarterly refresher training and on using the company’s proprietary Swiss curriculum. Additional modules for tropical diseases have been incorporated appropriately as Medgate Philippines was a designated center for tropical disease for the Medgate group.
“In addition, we have a quality assurance program to monitor the medical quality of consultations. Quality assurance is under the direction of our medical director, much in the same way it would be in a hospital setting. This coupled with the fact that our doctors practice on a committed schedule, they’re very similar to clinic hours, makes it appropriate to view Medgate as a virtual hospital,” Estrella said.
Founded 21 years ago in Basel, Switzerland, Medgate has long been in service even before broadband internet was easily accessible at a time when cutting-edge technology telecommunications was at the level of Nokia 3210.
Since then, Medgate has provided over 11 million consultations with zero medical liability which attests to the robustness of telemedicine as platform, and the accuracy of the diagnoses and treatment prescribed to patients.
Estrella said the data produced from 11 million consultations have allowed Medgate to create statistically-based treatment guidelines to help Medgate doctors confidently diagnose and treat patients without being face-to-face with a patient.
“Our doctors are able to lean on the body of knowledge from all their Medgate colleagues globally. This is a huge advantage when our doctors invariably come across symptoms and conditions that the doctor hasn’t personally seen in clinic. Because doctors have taken an oath to do no wrong, when in doubt a doctor would refer a patient to a face-to-face consultation, which is problematic as mentioned earlier. As a result of our clinical guidelines and the confidence of our doctors Medgate has a resolution rate or telecare rate of 80 percent, meaning eight out of 10 calls are for Medgate doctors,” he said.
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