I have been the Qualcomm Wireless Reach project manager for our Wireless Access for Health (WAH) program in the Philippines since 2009, so I was thrilled to participate in an event recently in Manila to celebrate the project’s success and announce expansion plans.
The WAH project uses 3G technology to improve health care by reducing the time required for reporting and improving access to accurate and relevant patient information for clinicians and government decision makers. As of March 2013, an astounding 250,000 patient consultations and 220,000 patient records have been recorded. This is an incredible feat, especially looking back at where the project began with paper records piled high in storage rooms—making it extremely difficult to access and analyze data.
Since the pilot phase began in 2009, the scale of the project’s expansion has been impressive—from four clinics to 37 city and rural clinics in and outside of the Tarlac Province in just four years. This year, the project is expanding even further and moving beyond the Tarlac Province to Region 1 of Northern Philippines where it will be replicated in four provinces: Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan.
The success of this project demonstrates the power of public/private partnerships and how mobile technology can truly make a positive impact on basic health services. What’s most inspiring for me is that local government and health organizations now recognize how mobile connectivity can benefit their communities.
We were privileged to have several project partners and even a project beneficiary participate in the event. Dr. Ben Arca, assistant regional director of the Department of Health (DOH) of Ilocos, shared that the WAH project has not only helped to track patient data and provide timely and accurate information to the DOH, but it has also aided medical workers at local health units. It allows them to access records very quickly, which allows them to expedite treatment. And the collective database of records means that analysis of health disorders and disease outbreaks can be determined and managed more quickly. In addition, the efficiency and capability of the system makes health workers feel more professional and respected by their patients.
One medical worker, Mina Flores, who is a midwife from Tarlac, demonstrated the mobile midwife application, which she and other providers use to collect data and create reports using a tablet while visiting their patients in rural villages. Professor Ernesto Garilao, President of Zuellig Family Foundation, a new WAH partner, discussed the impact that the program can have on health care services in rural areas—particularly in the area of reducing reduce maternal and infant mortality rates. Professor Garilao believes this can be done if the timely data generated by the system is used by health managers and local health executives to respond to and manage these issues effectively.
Leaving the event, I felt proud to be a part of this wonderful project and look forward to working with our partners to continue our efforts in using mobile connectivity to transform health care in the Philippines and worldwide.