Rural hospital in Davao now using digital tech from Europe

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/22 July) — An improved range of medical services will be made available in a rural hospital here after the deployment of a digital health platform by a Luxembourg-based satellite operator.

After three years in the making, Satmed, a range of health tools that medical professionals in remote areas can use to deliver services, was launched on Friday to augment the existing services at the hospital of German Doctors in Buda, Marilog District.

This technology, the first of its kind in the country and in Southeast Asia, is created by satellite operator SES, in partnership with the Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.

“Satmed will allow German Doctors to enhance health care provision and deliver accessible e-health services to remote communities in Mindanao,” said Glen Tindall, SES vice president for sales in Asia-Pacific.

Tindall told reporters on Friday that Satmed can improve public health in remote areas by enabling multiple medical applications and tools integrated on a single platform over satellite broadband services.

“This solution was developed by SES Techcom Services, a subsidiary of SES, and is funded by the Luxebourg Government,” he said.

The Satmed in Buda will enable German Doctors to provide better quality health care services when they visit remote villages.

The Satmed set of tools allows medical personnel on the ground to to use tablet computers to collect patient data, which can then be sync into its cloud platform.

Its communication features will also allow doctors from the US or Europe to be updated with large groups of patients in remote areas.

“This enables German Doctors to communicate with doctors and medical experts around the world via video conferencing,” Tindall said. “This also opens opportunities of training and other learning solutions.”

Satmed allows imaging teleradiology, health information management, e-learning, consultancy, cloud file sharing system, and other medical communications.

Dietmar Vorburg Schug, Philippine country director of German Doctors said their geographically-isolated 35-bed hospital in Buda caters to 140 patients per day in the out-patient department.

He estimated that there are at least 200,000 people living withing the catchment area of their Buda Community Health Care Center. Half of these are indigenous peoples.

Satellite services, Schug said, will make it easy for their team to analyze, monitor patient health problems, and manage patient record.

“Satmed and its suite of medical application opens up health care possibilities and boosts our efforts in making accessible, quality health care a reality for these remote communities,” he said.

The hospital has also catered to pregnant IP women who had a total of 900 deliveries in 2015, and this number is set to increase this year. The hospital currently has 40 staff.

The hospital caters to IP patients from Arakan in North Cotabato, Kitaotao in Bukidnon, and Marilog in Davao City. It has mobile doctors within their vicinity, and reaches out to areas that local and national health agency aren’t able to cover.

German Doctors has long been servicing the Buda area in the past decade. The NGO has been in the Philippines for the past 33 years.

Schug said that the availability of this technology will allow them to deliver medical services to IP patients better. The common medical issues that they cater to are those of children: respiratory track infections, pneumonia, malnourishment.

He said there is a lack of access to proper health information for communities there. (Jesse Pizarro Boga/MindaNews)