Assessment of the Context for eHealth Development in the Philippines: A Work in Progress from 1997 to 2020

  • Jinky Leilanie Lu National Institutes of Health, University of the Philippines Manila
  • Portia Grace F. Marcelo Department of Family and Community Medicine, College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila
Keywords: telemedicine, policymaking delivery of health care, health services, Philippines


Introduction. eHealth is described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for health. The use of eHealth closes the gaps in terms of geographical barriers, time constraints, lack of healthcare professionals in healthcare and service delivery. This study is important as it provides the current landscape and status of eHealth in the Philippines. Hence, policymakers, program implementors as well as other stakeholders, including the public, will be able to know which eHealth and telemedicine services and products are available in various sectors of society, either private or government, what are the existing gaps in eHealth, and the trajectory in the future based on the guide of the World Health Organization - International Telecommunication Union (WHO-ITU).

Objectives. The objectives of the study are 1) to provide a landscape of eHealth in the Philippines since its start in the country; 2) to identify programs, services, and technology innovations implemented in the country on eHealth and telemedicine; and 3) to identify Philippine systems that correspond to the eHealth components laid out by WHO-ITU for a successful implementation of eHealth at a national level.

Methods. We conducted an extensive review of the literature and key informant interviews with eHealth experts in the Philippines. The literature review covered research and studies, gray literature, peer-reviewed journals, databases, and government statistics. The years covered in this study span a total of 24 years from 1997, which is the beginning of the information management system as an institutional approach in the country, to 2020. The assessment tool was based on the framework provided by the WHO-ITU on the context for eHealth development.

Results. The National Telehealth Center (NTHC) of the Philippines began with projects for 1) eLearning, 2) eMedicine, 3) eRecords, 4) eHealth Policy and Advocacy, and 5) eSurveillance. Telemedicine services are now being offered by hospitals in the country. This shows eHealth services, in general, and telemedicine are being utilized in not only targeting the poor, but also in giving faster, more efficient, and equally effective virtual health services to the general public, even the private-pay patients.

Conclusion. The sustainability of eHealth in the Philippines still depends on the national effort to institutionalize an eHealth structure and eHealth system where the various components are interrelated.