Future of Health Informatics in the Philippines

Week 3 Infographic

According to Dr. Alvin Marcelo in his 2005 paper “Health Informatics in the Philippines”, there are three issues that impede the progress of health informatics: [1]

  1. “Foremost is the lack of health human resource interested in the field”
  2. “Second problem is the network infrastructure (which also involves IT human resources”
  3. “Third, the benefits of information technology have not yet dawned to many decision-makers in the health sector.”

To give an idea on how far back 2005 was in terms of technological innovations, the first generation iPhone did not launch until June 2007 and the iPad did not launch until April 2010. The entire world was using Nokia and Motorola phones which were basically limited to calls and sending of sms. Gmail was not publicly available until February 2007 and almost everyone had either a Yahoo or Hotmail email account. Facebook was launched from a dormitory room in 2004 and was merely an infant social networking site compared to the dominant Friendster and MySpace sites.

Fast forward to 2016. Nokia and Motorola are not even among the top 2 smartphone makers in the world as they have been overtaken by Samsung and Apple. Google has dislodged Yahoo and Hotmail in terms of email and search engine services. Lastly, Facebook has 1.59 Billion active users each month, meaning it survived and surpassed the likes of MySpace and Friendster social networking sites many times over.

In a span of 10 years or so, much has changed in terms of technology. In the same way, much has changed the field of health informatics. The issues mentioned by Dr. Alvin Marcelo in 2005 have been addressed. There is no longer a lack of health human resource interested in the field. The increase in interest can be seen through the people studying in the field of health informatics. The numbers may not yet be the same as that of traditional medical and nursing students, but even a minimal increase in applicants for the course is a very significant change. Education plays an important role in teaching and bringing awareness to the human resource about the field of health informatics. The increase in active participation in health informatics will eventually lead to the concept of health informatics becoming a mainstream subject and topic of discussion in more health and education facilities.

The cost of network infrastructure is already much less expensive than it use to be. With the widespread advancement of technology, the cost for producing network equipment, computers and smartphones have drastically gone down and the performance for the same items have improved greatly as compared to the available technology in 2005. This means that a smartphone in 2016 can outperform a home computer used in 2005. This improvement in this part of technology will also greatly help in the future of health informatics in the country.

The benefits of information technology have been recognized by, and already form a part of the business model of almost all companies in this planet. The same can also be said for the health and medical industry. Clinics have computerized records and a number of hospitals have wifi.

Now that the three identified issues have been addressed in the span of ten years, the question confronting us is, “what’s next?” How do we, as medical practitioners, advance the field of health informatics in the Philippines? To answer this, it is necessary to first identify the indicators of advancement. For me there are four indicators that health informatics has advanced:

(1) Ehealth technology has become accessible and widespread

(2) There is beneficial and efficient use of ehealth. The use of technology actually improves services.

(3) The people who use the technology are comfortable and knowledgeable. There is ease of use.

(4) Overall, there is a general awareness of information technology not only of decision-makers but even of medical practitioners and end-users. The general population accepts and promotes the use of technology in the healthcare profession.

For the foregoing to be achieved, the following steps may be taken:

  1. Ehealth can form part of the official curriculum of medical students. Students will be exposed early on to the various technology that is available and how they can be used in actual practice.
  2. Formal staff training. Medical staff will be given continuous training programs on how to use technology. Constant use and practice will make them comfortable with the technology that is available. This exposure will also enable them to think about how else technology can be improved to cater to real-life situations.
  3. Institutions – education, government, private – should promote research into the field, particularly in studying and evaluating what health informatics systems are being used in developed countries.
  4. Identification and adoption of best practices. A survey can be made of best practices of health informatics, whether in pioneer hospitals, or in other countries.
  5. Tailor-fitting health informatics to the Philippine situation. In order to truly advance health informatics in the Philippines, we should be aware of the specific needs in communities and assess how the technology can be used to addressed these needs. The best practices that have been identified can be used as a starting point but should be customized to respond to on-the-ground situations in the Philippines. When people can see how technology improves the effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare, they will accept and promote its use. Health informatics will be seen not as something novel but as something that is part and parcel of healthcare.

#MSHI #HI201

Allons-y!

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Reference

[1]Marcelo A. Health Informatics in the Philippines. APAMI/MIST 2006 yearbook.

The ever changing world of Informatics, Global Health and eHealth.

As a student of Master of Science in Health Informatics in University of the Philippines, Manila, one crucial requirement is to create your own blog. As a newbie blogger, this will be my official blog for the subject HI201 – Health Informatics under Dr. Iris Thiele Isip-Tan. The same will act as my personal blog when I am servicing the Tardis, upon the request of the Doctor. When I applied for this course, I had a somewhat limited understanding of what I was getting into. I learned from my interview, that the role of health informatics is to act as the middleman between Information Technology and Health Sciences. A more specific definition is stated below.

Health informatics is the study of resources and methods for the management of health information. This area of study supports health information technology, medical practice, medical research and medical informatics. [1]

Driving Question:
What is the relevance of informatics to global health and eHealth?

As you can see, the Concept Map is quite simple. This is to lay out in the simplest terms the relevance of informatics to global health and eHealth.

 

Week1 Concept Map

 

To better start the discussion, a definition of terms will give us a background to work with. From this ever changing definition of terms, we can hopefully give a clear cut explanation on the driving question for the week.

 

Definition of  Informatics

Informatics is the study of the structure, behaviour, and interactions of natural and engineered computational systems. [2]

Definition of Global Health

Global health is derived from public health and international health, which, in turn, evolved from hygiene and tropical medicine. Global health can be thought of as a notion (a world of healthy people, a condition of global health), or a mix of scholarships, research, and practice (with many questions, issues, skills, and competencies) [3]

Definition of eHealth

There were many variations on the definition that characterizes eHealth as the “use of information technology in the delivery of health care” [4]

Each one of us may already have our own ideas of connecting these 3 definitions. As this is my blog, then what I put down here is how I personally see the relevance of these 3 concepts.

We can see from the concept map that both public health and international health make up the definition of global health. Public health can be defined as the health of the general population as a whole and as regulated by the government. International health, on the other hand, is similar to public health, but deals with a larger area of coverage, usually by size of countries or state. Global health covers a bigger area than public health and international health combined. The general population included here is bigger than the community or state, and involves combinations of small community and states on a global level.

The term informatics was first used and developed by a Russian engineer / scientist during the 1960s. [5] The era of computers further improved the use and concept of informatics to facilitate the practice of information processing. The boom of the internet in the 1990s further improved the concept and use of informatics with the faster connectivity around the globe with the help of internet connectivity. The concept of informatics is relatively new compared to the concepts of global health, public health and international health. The latter are already established even before the idea and concept of informatics was born.

The term eHealth encompasses a set of disparate concepts, including health, technology, and commerce. [6]  “In the paper by Oh, et. al., it was discussed how the definition of eHealth is ever changing and the conclusion did not clamp down on any single definition.”[7] ibid For now, the concept of eHealth will always be changing until groups of people and experts agree and approve a single and unifying definition for eHealth.

The way I see it, informatics brought about the concept and idea of eHealth by merging itself with global health. Without the arrival of informatics, we would be fixed with the concept of global health and the concept of eHealth might not even be born. Informatics acted as the catalyst to provide the concept of eHealth as derived from global health.

We are not anchored to the current concept of eHealth, as it is,  as pointed out earlier, ever changing, evolving and improving. From the concept map, eHealth plus new technology will provide us the future of eHealth. I say future because everyday, an improvement or development can change , modify and update the current status of eHealth the same way that the concept of global health was modified by informatics to give us eHealth. Artificial intelligence that can help doctors diagnose patients is a once future technology that is already here. I recently saw this from a tweet — IBM Watson pinpoints rare form of leukemia after doctors misdiagnosed patient”  [8]  The use of artificial intelligence may not yet be accepted globally at present, but it may possibly be the accepted medical standard of care a few years from now. Not too long ago some people thought that the computers will have no use in a household. Similarly, people didn’t think that the use of mobile phones will make the use of payphones obsolete. Now these forms of technology are universal. The human race still has a long way to go in terms of technology and medicine, but health informatics will be a core part of the integrated development of these fields.

#MSHI #HI201

Allons-y!

 

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References:

[1] http://searchhealthit.techtarget.com/definition/health-informatics

[2] www.ed.ac.uk/files/atoms/files/what20is20informatics.pdf

[3] Koplan J, et al. Towards a common definition of global health. Lancet 2009;373:1993-1995.

[4] Oh H et al. What is eHealth(3): A systematic review of published definitions. J Med Internet Res 2005 Jan-Mar;7(1):e1 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1550636/

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Informatics#History

[6] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1550636/

[7] Ibid

[8] http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/ibm-watson-pinpoints-rare-form-leukemia-after-doctors-misdiagnosed-patient

back to school v3.0

even with the bit of rain here and there, class will push thru.

even the declaration from the school and city class will push thru.

surprisingly it also stopped raining, so i guess class will really push thru.
very curious what this new semester will bring about. but first time to grab some breakfast as the tummy is already complaining.

#MI216 #MSHI

Allons-y!

tardis & tech support

to help out non whovians out there. i will occasionally give definitions on Doctor Who terminology. but for starters, we will start with the blog title, tardistechsupport.

what is a tardis / time and relative dimension in space?

according to Wikipedia

A TARDIS is a product of the advanced technology of the Time Lords, an extraterrestrial civilisation to which the programme’s central character, the Doctor, belongs. A properly maintained and piloted TARDIS can transport its occupants to any point in time and space. The interior of a TARDIS is much larger than its exterior. It can blend in with its surroundings using the ship’s “chameleon circuit”. TARDISes also possess a degree of sapience (which has been expressed in a variety of ways ranging from implied machine personality and free will through to the use of a conversant avatar) and provide their users with additional tools and abilities including a universal translation system based on telepathy.

what is a tech support?

according to Wikipedia again… (this is how diligent this tardis tech support can be)

Technical support (often shortened to tech support) refers to a plethora of services by which enterprises provide assistance to users of technology products such as mobile phones, televisions, computers, software products or other informatic, electronic or mechanical goods. In general, technical support services address specific problems with a product or service rather than the provision of training, customization, or other support services. Most companies offer technical support for the products they sell, either freely available or for a fee. Technical support may be delivered over by e-mail, live support software on a website, or a tool where users can log a call or incident. Larger organizations frequently have internal technical support available to their staff for computer-related problems. The Internet can also be a good source for freely available tech support, where experienced users help users find solutions to their problems.[not verified in body] In addition, some fee-based service companies charge for premium technical support services.

now you just combine the two and you get the meaning of tardis tech support.

Allonsy!

 

First blog post

This is the post excerpt.

This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.

post

hello. this blog starts down here. i plan to keep the original first blog post above from wordpress as this will remind me that on this day, 04th of August 2016, i created and open my first ever blog. i wanted to say that i was inspired by some eureka moment, but this is more of a requirement in my class for MS Health Informatics in University of the Philippines Manila.

now, i had to update all my photos from twitter, instagram, snapchat, google+ and facebook after learning that i need to use stock photos whenever i post in a blog. not that this blog will get that famous (would be nice if it did), but as a digital citizen, i will do my best to follow the basic rules of intellectual property.

below are the stock photos i got with the help of Mr G. these are the same photos you see somewhere here on the background of this blog.

i used this one as my standard header photo.

Tardis-Simple-Vector

while this one will be my profile picture for a while. until i can afford to pay for the premium account of stock photos online.

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i have to get back in updating the background and profile pictures of my other social media accounts. i will explain more on my next post.

Allonsy!

(for non Whovians, taken from Wikia, Allons-y, according to the Tenth Doctor, was French for “Let’s go”. It was one of the Tenth Doctor’s favourite sayings; he especially wanted to say, “Allons-y, Alonso”, which he eventually said to Alonso Frame. The Twelfth Doctor once claimed that he was able to say it due to his precise control over the TARDIS Translation circuits.)