To give a boost to the public health care system in the country, lawmakers passed the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law in 2019, with the main goal of expanding the services of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), from free consultation up to the laboratory and other diagnostic services.
Prior to the enactment of the law, the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) already saw the importance of a strong public health care system that paved the way for it to partner with Philhealth.
In 2015, the two institutions worked together and implemented PhilHealth STUDIES (Supporting the Thrust for UHC through Data, Information, and Knowledge Exchange Systems), a collaborative health management system that provided for the conduct of evidence-based plans, policies, and programs that would benefit not only the institution but also its members.
“Pangunahing layunin ng PhilHealth Studies na mapagtibay ang pangangasiwa sa sistema ng pananaliksik sa kalusugan sa pamamagitan ng pakikipag-ugnayan sa iba’t-ibang ahensya ng pamahalaan katulad ng pakikipagtulungan na ginawa namin sa DOST-PCHRD,” said Dr. Bernadette C. Lico, senior manager of PhilHealth’s Corporate Planning Department during the recent episode of the DOST Report.
Dr. Lico said that they entrusted the conduct of this research project to DOST-PCHRD due to its mandate, expertise, and experience.
The PhilHealth STUDIES is divided into three components, namely: research services or research project management, capacity building, and research dissemination.
Dr. Lico explained that in the research project management component, the DOST-PCHRD is tasked to manage the research agenda-setting and the reviewing of research proposals, coordinating with the implementing agency, monitoring of approved research projects, and assessing its final outputs. All of these are based on the DOST’s Grants-in-Aid guidelines and the Commission on Audit (COA) rulings.
The other component is capacity building where DOST-PCHRD initiates engagements with experts. There are various activities conducted to increase the knowledge and capability of PhilHealth staff to manage and implement health research projects and translate research results into policies. Moreover, there were also other activities related to Universal Health Coverage.
The last component, research dissemination, focuses on the implementation of research outputs of PhilHealth STUDIES to its target or identified beneficiaries.
“Layunin din ng proyektong ito na mas mapadami pa ang mga maisasagawang research studies para suportahan at mapaigting ang pagpapatupad ng ating pamahalaan sa UHC Law,” said Dr. Lico.
Dr. Lico also shared that since November 2015, there has been 20 research studies accomplished, seven capacity-building projects conducted, three research dissemination projects done, and four research were held. She further said that these projects and activities helped improve the health economics, health financing, and health systems governance of PhilHealth.
Dr. Lico also bared that one of the priorities of PhilHealth STUDIES is to craft new benefits packages for the National Health Insurance Program or NHIP.
On the other hand, Dr. Lico said that with the passage of the Mental Health Act, it is about time to expand the benefits that are related to people’s mental health. To address this need, Philhealth started the Technical Assistance on the Development of Comprehensive PhilHealth Benefits for Mental Health in 2019. It is a partnership with PhilHealth and the Alliance for Improving Health Outcomes (AIHO), Philippine Psychiatric Association, Philippine Neurological Association, and the Department of Health (DOH) that aims to design the mental health benefits package.
Moreover, Dr. Lico said that the mental health benefits package will cover diagnostics, medicines, therapy sessions, emergency services, consultations with psychiatric specialists, and treatment with a neurologic specialist.
The DOST Report is a regular broadcast program of the DOST-Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII) that highlights the various initiatives and innovations in different areas like health, agriculture, enterprise development, emerging technologies, food and nutrition, and community empowerment, among others. The program is aired every Friday, 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM, through the DOSTv Facebook page and YouTube channel.