Information utilization in the implementation of universal health care

SPMC J Health Care Serv. 2019;5(2):2 ARK: http://n2t.net/ark:/76951/jhcs33mvf6

Alvin S Concha1

1Hospital Research Publication Office, Southern Philippines Medical Center, JP Laurel Ave, Davao City, Philippines

Correspondence Alvin S Concha, alvinconcha@gmail.com

Received 9 December 2019

Accepted 17 December 2019

Cite as Concha AS. Information utilization in the implementation of universal health care. SPMC J Health Care Serv. 2019;5(2):2. http://n2t.net/ark:/76951/jhcs33mvf6

The Governance and Accountability chapter of the newly passed UHC law1 contains provisions pertaining to the use of information systems in furthering universal health care in the country. The implementing rules and regulations of the law2 elaborates on how the provisions should be operationalized and specifies the government agencies that should spearhead the implementation of the law.

The Health Promotion section of RA 11223 talks about the establishment of a Health Promotion Bureau that ensures the promotion of health literacy and healthy lifestyle among Filipinos. The section on Evidence-Informed Sectoral Policy and Planning for UHC describes the centralization of health and health-related data that can be used to guide research and policy-making processes in health care. The section on Monitoring and Evaluation elaborates the conduct of modules of annual household surveys in support of UHC and the regular publication of burden of disease estimates that will help determine the progress of health outcomes. Finally, the section on Health Information System emphasizes on the requirement for health service providers to maintain a health information system that eventually links with the system of other providers to a larger, interoperable system. The systems shall share information on enterprise resources, human resources, health records and prescription logs.1

Implementing these provisions in the law requires several types of health and health-related information, including individual patient data, aggregate morbidity and mortality data, data related to health care provider activities, and even existing and newly generated knowledge from health research and similar literatures.

Information fuels the operations of the health care system. In striving to achieve universal health care, it is vital for the government to invest on information systems that meet the dynamic demand of health care itself.

Within the last few years, there have been several efforts by the Philippine government and private institutions to systematize and consolidate health data.3

Most government and private tertiary hospitals in the Philippines have their own health information system. Development of information systems incurs high costs, however, so not all health facilities were adept in systematizing the health and health-related information that they regularly handle.3

Many of the efforts were primarily intended to be small-scale and for use only within the institution that developed the systems. Of those intended to have a nation-wide scope however, several setbacks have prevented the full-scale implementation of these systems.

Issues on technical interoperability prevent several independent information systems to communicate and benefit from each other's data. Non-flexible data reports have limited applicability among potential users.4

In the past, issues on effective and large-scale governance over health information that are developed and maintained by individual institutions hindered the efficient use of available health information to facilitate health care operations.4

The collaborating agencies that will help DOH in the implementation of UHC are specified in the IRR.2 The establishment of a Health Promotion Bureau and eventual allocation of at least 1% of the DOH budget to the bureau, health promotion and health literacy programs can systematically take off to support efforts towards achieving universal health care. In coordination with DOH, the Department of Education will undertake the important tasks of promoting healthy lifestyles, participating in preventive programs, and mobilizing community action to promote health.

A National Health Data Repository will be established and maintained after an appropriate set of guidelines is developed by DOH and PhilHealth in consultation with the Department of Information and Communications Technology and the National Privacy Commission. All health and health-related data on individual and population health will be submitted to PhilHealth through the repository. This systematization of health and health-related data will facilitate the proper utilization of health information in health care operations and health policy development.

The Philippine Statistics Authority will coordinate with DOH in coming up with annual household surveys to monitor and evaluate the implementation of universal health care in the country. The DOH and PhilHealth will regularly publish burden of disease estimates. These information will provide feedback and help generate directions for the adjustment of strategies in the implementation of universal health care.

Health providers are required to maintain local health information systems and upload data to a nation-wide health information system in a manner consistent with the standards of the Department of Health, PhilHealth, Department of Information and Communications Technology, and National Privacy Commission. The DOH and PhilHealth will also fund and engage providers to upgrade existing health information systems. These will ensure inter-provider use of information and encourage individual providers to actively contribute towards making health care operations more efficient.

Information-driven health care makes services dynamic and continually responsive. The generation, management and utilization of health and health-related information are essential processes that support the successful implementation of universal health care.

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Competing interests

None declared

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This is an Open Access article licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, which allows others to share and adapt the work, provided that derivative works bear appropriate citation to this original work and are not used for commercial purposes. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/


1. Republic of the Philippines. An act instituting universal health care for all filipinos, prescribing reforms in the health care system, and appropriating funds therefor, Republic Act No. 11223 (2019 Feb 20).

2. Department of Health. Implementing rules and regulations of the universal health care act (Republic act no. 11223), (2019 Oct 10). Available from: http://uhc.com.ph/UHC-IRR.pdf

3. Dicioco CS. Philippine initiatives in health informatics [unpublished Powerpoint presentation]. Manila: University of the Philippines; 2012. Available from: https://www.scribd.com/presentation/93326583/Philippine-Initiatives-in-Health-Informatics.

4. Canlas R Jr. PHIS: The Philippines health information system, critical challenges, a survey research paper [dissertation]. Australia: Carnegie Mellon University, Heinz College Australia; 2009 Nov 17. Available from: https://www.scribd.com/doc/23761110/Philippine-Health-Information-System-Critical-Challenges-and-Solutions.

Copyright © 2019 AS Concha.


December 26, 2019

Volume 5 Issue 2 (2019)