PhilHealth operations to become fully digital in 2 to 3 years
MANILA, Philippines — Operations of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) is expected to be fully automated in the next two to three years, according to its president and chief executive officer, Ricardo Morales.
“The plan is first to automate the system. That will take a lot of money and maybe two to three years before we fully automate and integrate PhilHealth’s operation,” Morales said in an interview with ABS-CBN Channel when asked how he planned to fix problems gripping the agency.
“We are a very complicated, complex company with about one million transactions a month. Some of them [are] in areas that have no connectivity. So transactions are done manually. So that will take some time before we integrate this whole system,” he said, speaking partly in Filipino.
He noted that the state health insurance company had already asked for bids on the components and modules for the automated system.
“We are procuring them already. Some of our systems are already automated but they’re not integrated yet so that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.
“We are negotiating with a reputable management services [firm] to hold our hand while we do this transition to the digital future,” he added.
Morales, who took the helm of PhilHealth two months ago, said he was aiming for smooth and easy transactions between the agency and its partner hospitals as well as health care providers.
He noted, however, that PhilHealth would have to be “more meticulous” in dealing with small clinics.
“The small clinics we just have to be more meticulous with [and] automate it. The first step, the easier route is to automate and as I said it will take some time,” he said, noting that PhilHealth had around 10,000 transactions daily in Metro Manila alone.
In terms of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act, Morales said PhilHealth and the Department of Health bad identified 33 hospitals that would serve as the “initial vehicle” for the implementation of the law.
PhilHealth is the lead implementing agency of the UHC.
“We will slowly increase this number until we cover the entire health ecosystem. PhilHealth about three to six years. We can fix PhilHealth as we go along and they can gradually increase the budget as we go along so,” the PhilHealth chief said.
According to Morales, PhilHealth currently has an annual operating budget of around P160 billion.
“Under the [UHC], that’s going to gradually increase to about 300 billion. And but it’s going to be a gradual increase because we have to fix all the holes and put PhilHealth in the condition to execute the law so it’s not going to be a snap of the finger thing, it’s going to take some time,” he said.
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