Teleconsultation may be a way for the public to talk to a doctor without risking them to infection by going to a clinic or hospital.
One such service in the country is the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) new initiative called Bayanihan E-Konsulta.
It will target to help COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients, and will be accessible even to those on free data via its newly launched Facebook page.
Vice President Leni Robredo formally announced her new teleconsultation program live on Facebook on Wednesday, April 7.
“It is accessible by free data and is meant to serve COVID or Non-COVID patients who might not need hospitalization but would need to talk to a doctor to seek medical advice,” she posted on her Facebook page.
Patients from the National Capital Region (NCR) and nearby provinces who want to have a consultation with the OVP’s volunteer doctors have to visit the Facebook page of Bayanihan E-Konsulta (@OVPBayanihanEKonsulta), click the “send message” button, and type the words “konsulta” (consult) or “tulong” (help) to start the e-consultation process.
Volunteer operators will then ask a series of questions to help link you up with volunteer doctors.
Robredo said that while there are already existing teleconsult services, which the OVP also listed down on the new Facebook page, some of these are not accessible to those who do not have the means to pay for the service and those without internet access.
“Ito po gusto natin maging accessible siya kahit doon sa mga taong may kahirapan sa pag-access ng medical help kasi maraming pagkukulang, limitasyon (We want this to be accessible even to people who are having a hard time accessing medical help because there are a lot of limitations),” Robredo said.
The comment section of the Bayanihan E-Konsulta Facebook page, the vice president said, has been disabled to prioritize giving the proper information to those who will access the page.
While the OVP already rolled out a lot of programs to help the health care sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic despite its limited mandate and resources, Robredo said she felt these were not enough.
“Maraming namamatay at ‘yung namamatay mga kakilala natin, mga kaibigan, kamag-anak, kamag-anak ng kaibigan. Hindi pwede wala kaming gawin (People are dying and we know these people, they are our friends, relatives, relatives of our friends. We cannot not do anything),” she stressed.
The OVP has started onboarding the volunteer doctors today, followed by the volunteer call center operators.
Robredo asked the public to direct posts they see on social media asking for medical assistance to the Bayanihan E-Konsulta Facebook page.
However, she clarified that they will not have the capacity to accommodate requests for hospitalization because this is not part of the program’s mandate.
If the patients need to be hospitalized, they will have to contact the national government’s One Hospital Command to be given proper information on which hospital can still accommodate patients for admission.
Robredo said that the OVP will help patients access the One Hospital Command.
The program hopes to answer the calls of many on social media about patients not being able to find a hospital that can accommodate them because the facilities in NCR are full capacity.
Reports on social media said that some families from Metro Manila drive as far as Sorsogon to find a hospital for their loved ones.