A new independent study conducted by a top Philippine law firm and commissioned by British life insurer Pru Life UK calls for government agencies to consider regulatory changes in the health sector to encourage broader use of mobile health technologies in the Philippines. The commissioned study is part of Pru Life UK’s commitment in promoting health and wellness among Filipinos through innovations.
Authored by advisory firm Quisumbing Torres, the pioneering whitepaper titled “Mobile Digital Health in the Philippines” examines the readiness of the country’s regulatory framework to support mHealth, and proposes solutions on how to integrate mHealth as part of the current reforms in healthcare in the Philippines.
“With unequal access and high cost of healthcare, high out-of-pocket spending, and prevalence of chronic conditions, we see that healthcare is a significant concern in the Philippines. We, however, see an opportunity for the country to leverage mHealth technologies to make health accessible and affordable to all,” says Prudential Corporation Asia Chief Health Officer Andrew Wong.
Today, mHealth applications are adopted by 83% of physicians in the United States and have begun to revolutionize the health practice in Southeast Asia. Offering accessible healthcare through mobile devices, patients seeking medical assistance can access services such as booking online consultations with professionals, receiving electronic prescriptions and more. This innovative, artificial intelligence-powered solution empowers people with a preventive health management approach.
However, mHealth still face barriers to entry in the country. The whitepaper identifies these challenges as the lack of clarity on the categorization of certain aspects of mHealth that may be subject to nationality restrictions; regulations on the practice of profession, value-added services, medical devices, and online sale of medicines; consumer protection, intellectual property; and data privacy issues. Conversely, the recommendations listed in the whitepaper are summarized below:
- Formulate rules and regulations that will set concrete and practical tests to determine whether the operator or provider of mHealth platforms or applications is doing business in the Philippines;
- clarify foreign equity restrictions to ensure that mHealth operators would not be deemed as engaging in mass media, advertising, or providing value-added services;
- introduce clear guidelines that will allow mobile consultation with medical professionals and online dispensing and selling of medicines;
- issue a unified and harmonized set of regulations providing for the guidelines for digital health in general and mHealth platforms and applications in particular;
- issue specific privacy guidelines covering the organizational, physical, system, and technical aspects of mHealth applications to reduce their risk of unauthorized use, processing, or access of personal data;
- offer tax and other incentives for mHealth operators to introduce the innovation in the Philippines; and
- integrate the data gathered and processed by mHealth applications into the health information system mandated under the Universal Health Care Act.
As a company that actively promotes health and wellness, Pru Life UK sees mHealth playing an integral role in the development of the country’s healthcare system. The launch of this whitepaper also considers the timing of the ongoing legislative work on proposed eHealth measures. The health committee at the House of Representatives recently formed a technical working group tasked to consolidate several initiatives filed to develop the country’s electronic system and services.
“We at Pru Life UK are eager to take proactive steps to work with the public and private sectors to see this through. We realize and embrace the role we can play in helping the government achieve its health goals and in implementing the Universal Health Care Law. It also aligns with our We DO Health commitment,” says Pru Life UK President and CEO Antonio “Jumbing” de Rosas.
Since establishing operations in the Philippines in 1996, Pru Life UK has introduced several innovative products and solutions focusing on protecting the health and wealth of Filipinos. The Company’s focus under We DO Health further reinforces its thrust in health and advocates for prevention, postponement, and protection against illnesses.
In 2018, the Company launched the ground-breaking myDNA Pro Bundle, which combines a DNA-based health program with Pru Life UK’s eligible investment-linked life insurance products as well as a comprehensive accident, hospitalization, and critical illness coverage. PRURide PH—the largest annual cycling festival in the country—was also held three years in a row to promote health and wellness through the sport. In addition, Pru Life UK entered into a partnership with St. Luke’s Medical Center in September this year to provide convenience in critical illness claims for its policy owners.