THE problem with a visit to a doctor’s office is that while the actual consultation normally lasts only a few minutes, the long wait extends to hours on end, possibly exposing the patient to a host of communicable diseases from other people on the queue.
But what if the patient wants to talk to a doctor pronto without concerning himself with looking through the Yellow Pages or browsing the Internet for the numbers and addresses of the doctors near him?
What if actually going to a doctor’s office is not possible at the time for whatever reason?
One may have a medical insurance from a health maintenance organization (HMO) boasting of a hotline. But can most people stand calling that hotline only to be passed around by call center agents to nurses and then finally to doctors? Who wants to suffer such an aggravation?
This June 15, Philcare, a leading HMO, will make operational for its 350,000 members across the nation the newest and most innovative feature of its industry leading app Heyphil designed by the team of Philcare tech guru James Indino.
Called Digimed, the app feature initially available on Android allows users to call and consult doctors and other healthcare specialists under a decking system that ensures prompt response.
“The first voice a user of Heyphil’s Digimed hears on his or her mobile phone or tablet belongs to a doctor in flesh and blood. The consultation can be as fast or as thorough as the patient wants it to be,” said Indino, Philcare’s VP for Information Technology Group.
“Through the app, the patient can even send a picture of something on his body bothering him to help the doctor with the diagnosis,” said Indino.
He added that the doctor can then prescribe medicines or recommend an actual, face-to-face visit for the patient with a doctor of his choice, as well as recommend a battery of tests, with the needed LOA (letter of approval) already generated electronically.
The app also has a feedback mechanism that allows users to rate the doctors in the same way that people rate drivers of ride-hailing services like Grab. While HeyPhil is already available as an IOS download, the Digimed feature is still awaiting rollout on Apple, Indino said.
He explained that a complaint can filed by a user against a doctor as all calls are recorded and can be pulled out anytime. Nonetheless, Indino said the company thoroughly vets its doctors and specialists who will initially be on call from 6 a.m. to 12 midnight and, in the future, on call 24/7.
According to Sonia Nono, Philcare AVP for Customer Experience Division, LOAs can be generated in mere seconds using HeyPhil compared to the average 10 minutes needed for LOAs to be approved in person onsite or via phone calls to LOA numbers.
“The app was developed to help our members get hassle-free services for their health and medical needs by going digital and utilizing technology to the hilt,” said Ms. Nono.
For the millions of Filipinos employed in the business processes outsourcing (BPO) industry, Philcare SVP for Sales and Marketing Christian G. Cristobal said Digimed increases productivity and prevents man-hour losses.
Cristobal revealed that employees can get through Heyphil at no cost to them the requisite medical certificates, sent directly electronically to them or to their human resources (HR) departments.
Philcare CEO and President Jaeger L. Tanco said during a media press briefing at the Azuthai Restaurant in Makati City that HMOs need to utilize technology and translate it towards ease and convenience for their clients to “make the experience worth every cent they pay.”
A 2018 report by We Are Social said that Filipinos have the highest social media usage in the world – three hours and 57 minutes despite having an internet penetration rate of only 67 percent, said Tanco in explaining why his company has put a premium on going digital.
“Health care has to make sense to Filipinos for them to purchase it and we need to provide them with sensible healthcare from acquisition, to benefits and actual utilization,” said Tanco. He added that HMOs must reinvent themselves through technology to help spur inclusive health care among Filipinos.
One of the products that make medical care affordable to Filipinos, said Ms. Nono is their prepaid medical insurance which provides P40,000 worth of emergency medical services at accredited hospitals and clinics for a user cash-out of P1,200.
“With Heyphil and now Digimed, we’re confident that the rest of the HMO industry will take our cue and work towards improving our industry as a whole. Technology has been the focus of Philcare for the past five years and we have more in store to keep our trajectory upward,” said Indino.