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CO-WRITTEN / PARTNER | Staff Reporter, Philippines
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MyHealth Clinic cuts turnaround times in half through digital solutions

With the LifeSys RIS PACS platform, the previous turnaround time of 2-3 days was cut to hours.

World Bank data show that the Philippines is an archipelagic country with a 106.7 million population, growing 1.7% on average per year. With a labour force growing at 1.8% annually, more and more people are being able to afford healthcare but are not able to get the service they need due to lack of physicians and limited accessibility especially for rural areas.

CNN shared that with a ratio of one doctor for every 33,000 persons, there’s colossal need for accessible healthcare that is being unmet.

“We simply do not have enough doctors, nurses, clinics and hospitals to adequately meet the healthcare needs of our various populations, and the infrastructure that does exist, tends to be concentrated in major cities, leaving those in Tier 3/4 cities and villages, with few options other than travel or ignore treatment. This is costly to the individual, their families, and societies at large,” said Joseph Mocanu, Managing Director at Verge Capital Management at the Healthcare Asia Forum last April 2019. He stressed that decentralising healthcare is one of the key initiatives that will help provide quality healthcare to the more than 5 billion people globally who currently do not have access.

“Decentralisation can allow for the separation of data collection and diagnosis, so you can retain much of the specialised talent in the major urban centres, while being able to meaningfully diagnose, triage, and treat those who otherwise would have had to leave their homes,” he added.

MyHealth Clinic, a network of multi-specialty medical clinics based in the Philippines, is among the first to respond to the ever-growing healthcare demand. From launching the Philippine’s first 24/7 Urgent Care Clinic and Telemedicine services, to becoming the country’s largest network of full-service ambulatory clinics offering the most extensive healthcare services, MyHealth Clinic has been on the rise to be among the country’s leading providers for outpatient healthcare.

MyHealth Clinic’s vision is to provide the best customer experience in the healthcare industry by delivering affordable and accessible healthcare. In pursuit of these goals, they’ve opened operating clinics situated in accessible locations and lengthened their clinic hours to cater to their patients’ varied schedules and lifestyles.

Their partnership with DoubleDragon Properties’ subsidiary, CityMall Commercial Centers Inc., would allow them to provide ambulatory services in CityMalls all over the country. They’ve also partnered with Maxicare, Insular Health Care, and many more to allow their patients to benefit from their HMO’s and insurance partners.

They administer patient surveys as a feedback mechanism for improvements in their healthcare delivery services. MyHealth Clinic is also a firm believer that technology and digitisation of healthcare can further improve patient experience and at the same time make its services more affordable.

Without a doubt, technological advancement over the last decade or so has significantly transformed industries. The technological revolution has enabled industries to serve market segments they were previously unable to reach through innovative go-to-market models and the development of more affordable product/service offerings. But adoption of digital innovations in healthcare has not been quite as fast.

“It’s true there are many challenges in adopting new technologies in healthcare,” said Dr. Francis Mangonon, MyHealth Clinic’s head of operations. “But it is also true that we should be giving attention to it. With the way the healthcare landscape is evolving, there is likely to be no other way forward but to find the sweet spot between digital and personal in healthcare.”

Electronic health records (EHR) continues to be a big trend in health technology. There has also been a lot of news around Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Deep Learning (DL) and a recent surge in the number of patient-directed applications from online pharmacies, adherence programs, remote or on-demand primary care consultation and services, wearables, among others. One area MyHealth Clinic saw could benefit from new technologies was their imaging operations.

MyHealth Clinic conducts hundreds of thousands of medical imaging services in a year across its network. It usually took around 2 to 3 days to provide the final report to patients. As they expanded sites and the traffic situation worsened, they also realised their specialists wasted a lot of time moving from one site to another. Not only were they unable to optimise their resources, they also kept the patients waiting.

Dr. Steven Pua, chief medical officer of MyHealth Clinic, said “As a radiologist myself, I was looking for solutions that can reduce turnaround times and is easy to learn and use. But as an administrator, I was looking for solutions that can enable more efficient operations and is simple and cost-effective to setup and maintain. As MyHealth Clinic grows, we would also need a system that scales easily to support our expansion plans. When I came across LifeSys, it seemed like they were going to be able to solve these concerns, not just on the radiology side but also on the administrative side.”

In February 2019, MyHealth Clinic began the roll out of the LifeSys RIS PACS platform across its various sites. As of the end of June, 90% of cases are read within a day - an almost 50% reduction, given their previous turnaround time of 2-3 days. Around 30% of their cases were actually turned around in less than an hour.

“We think patient waiting time is one of the key drivers for customer experience. To fulfil our vision of providing the best customer experience, reducing turnaround time in our radiology operations was one of the best places to start,” said MyHealth Clinic’s Dr. Rafael Dy Tiapco.

With legacy radiology systems, doctors would need to be on-site to be able to access the images and write reports. When Dr. Eric Schulze, founder and CEO of Lifetrack Medical Systems, began developing LifeSys, he previously had extensive experience with RIS PACS systems in both developed and developing markets, both as a practicing radiologist and a teleradiology pioneer. He had witnessed the evolution and limitations of PACS systems since his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, so he went on to build LifeSys from the ground up to have all the functionalities and benefits the legacy systems did not offer.

With LifeSys, radiologists are now able to access patient images and records on and off site, at any time of the day. This enhanced capability for radiologists has allowed them to read more studies, boosting their productivity, and virtually eliminating the clinic backlog.

“Having a lot of clinic locations is good for patient accessibility but also poses as an operational challenge. With the increasing traffic situation, radiologists lose a lot of time on the road moving from one clinic to another. With LifeSys being both on cloud and onsite, we are able to improve patient experience without compromising operational efficiency. It’s a win-win situation for our patients and for MyHealth Clinic. The faster it takes for a radiologist to complete a report, the shorter our patients have to wait and the more patients we can accommodate,” said Dr. Pua.

Dr. Mangonon added, “We have also been able to collaborate with Lifetrack so that we can provide our patients digital access to their images and reports. We reduce the need for CDs and film printing which saves costs but at the same time makes it easier for patients to always have their records readily accessible.”

Dr. Pua continued, “We continue to realise the benefits that a system like LifeSys or any other digital solution can provide for us. Our radiologists continue to learn and maximise the system. It’s easy to use - the results in turnaround time in a couple of months speak for this. There are other functionalities that we have yet to take advantage of, like the built in analytics to inform our operational decisions. I’m sure that this positive trend will continue. We continue to watch out for other ways, digital or non-digital, that could further improve patient experience, affordability and accessibility of our services without compromising quality. There are more patients out there waiting to be served.”

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