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How the Global Pandemic Changed the Way We Provide Healthcare

by GMDP September 17 2021

You should know by now that we are all entitled to healthcare.


It is our very right to have access to healthcare anytime and anywhere we may need it. For us to further reach our potential as human beings, we must first and foremost take care of ourselves, especially our health.


This includes having regular check-ups, health exams and easy access to medical services. Healthcare is defined as the diagnosis, treatment, and management of various diseases, illnesses or injuries. Its main goal is to preserve the physical and mental well-being of the people.  Healthcare services are being practiced and delivered by medical personnel, physicians and allied health professionals. 


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Health is not just a mere absence of disease or infirmity. It is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being of a person. The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.”


They say a healthy nation is a wealthy nation.


A country’s government must give its people their due right to safe, of the best quality and accessible healthcare. For society to meet its healthcare goals, the industry must assess and analyze the community’s current health status. To achieve the goals set, the healthcare industry must deliver comprehensive and high-quality medical services to its people. 


Healthcare in the Philippines


Health is a basic human right that is guaranteed by the 1987  Philippine Constitution. Healthcare is provided in the Philippines through two health delivery systems named public and private health. Economically, the Philippine government is said to have allotted $3.2 billion to the health sector for the year 2020, which had a 12% increase compared to the budget from 2019. 


The World Health Organization has ranked the efficiency of the Philippines ’ healthcare system as 60th in the world. That means, the healthcare system here in the Philippines passed the qualifications of international standards.


Healthcare in the Philippines might be slow but is steady in improving. One example of the improvement of our healthcare system is the rise of Electronic Health Records in the Philippines.


Filipinos are entitled to free medical care through the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, or most commonly known as PhilHealth. The Department of Health (DOH) assures that PhilHealth’s support value is 100%. DOH also states that part of PhilHealth’s benefits packages will include comprehensive and guided health technology monitoring and assessment, covering outpatient diagnostics and laboratories, medicines, and other medical services. 


Public healthcare


As administered by PhilHealth, public healthcare in the Philippines faces some limitations. Even if the country has already achieved universal healthcare, there are still struggles with unequal and inaccessible medical care. The standard of public healthcare in the Philippines also varies in urban and rural areas. 


Private healthcare


They say, about 30% of the Philippine population uses the private sector as their primary means of healthcare. Approximately, 60% of hospitals in the Philippines are private. It is also important to note that medical tourism is a significant part of the Philippine Economy. The comparable affordability of private healthcare and the visibility of the electronic health records in the Philippines can be seen in the increasing popularity of the country as a medical tourism destination. 


In less than a year, the COVID-19 pandemic has entirely changed the way we live. It changed the way we work, communicate, learn and socialize. The way people approach their health and healthcare also changed. Both positively and negatively. 


This has led to an overwhelming amount of loss of human life around the world. It also presented various unforeseen challenges to healthcare, the economy,  food systems and the workforce. Since the beginning of the pandemic, healthcare workers have been showered with praise and support. However, the pandemic has also brought a lot of pressure and challenges to the healthcare industry.


The global pandemic has indeed changed the way we deliver healthcare. With new emerging technologies, the COVID-19 threat made way to a more digital-based healthcare system. Here are some examples of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the healthcare sector and society. 


Drastic acceleration of telemedicine


Physicians use telemedicine to expand access to healthcare. Because of the risk of contracting the virus, changes in the way healthcare is delivered are made. Healthcare providers needed to minimize the exposure of healthcare staff to patients. 


A lot of physicians are now endorsing telemedicine because they believe that it can improve patient outcomes. It helps provide necessary care while minimizing the transmission risk of COVID-19 virus to both healthcare providers and patients.


Home-Health Aids Instead of Nursing Homes


The disturbing statistics of death in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic have led people to be discouraged by the idea of it. Although it can provide secured services and timely medical care, the idea that vulnerable people must be housed in close quarters may have forever lost its appeal, especially in today’s modern world. 


This however could lead to an overwhelming increase in demand for home health services, house calls, and in-person medical services delivered to elderly with special needs and to those who have no interest in living in close and strict quarters.


Impact on Healthcare Providers 


Healthcare workers had always been providing care to people even before the global pandemic came. However, the pandemic affected their mental and physical health drastically. The COVID-19 pandemic has given everyone insignificant burdens. Especially healthcare workers. They are prone to experiencing mental, emotional and of course, physical exhaustion. Unfortunately, this may lead to medical errors and lower productivity. The ability of physicians to perform well also depends on their ability to cope with stress and to work under pressure. They are, after all, just human beings. 


New Era of Healthcare Preparedness


No one was ever ready and prepared for a global pandemic, yet through the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare preparedness has been scaled up significantly. The rise of new digital tools such as contact tracing devices, electronic medical records, electronic health records, and many more tools. 


Given these innovations and tools for preparedness, the global healthcare industry will perhaps witness the beginning of a new era of implementing different and multiple health programs through digital technology.


Despite the various events brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still valuable lessons we learned and can learn from. Especially that the  Philippines is contending with one of the most numbers of COVID-19 patients in southeast Asia. The pandemic has heavily hit the country and its people in different ways. 


Community quarantines alongside transport and border restrictions have limited the delivery and accessibility of health services. This truly affected patients that required physician care the most. Existing record-keeping measures were hard to retrieve to preserve quarantine guidelines.  


This is why telemedicine and electronic health records in the Philippines were implemented. To deliver patient care anytime and anywhere as well as reduce face-to-face consultations. Following guidelines yet still serving society in every way physicians can. 


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