The University of the Philippines and Department of Science and Technology (UP-DOST) RxBox TeleHealth System is being eyed for commercial release
to provide better access to life-saving healthcare services in the country after the project’s successful deployment in rural health centers and during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The RxBox has been proven to reduce the overall cost of healthcare by enabling health workers to diagnose, monitor, and treat patients within rural health facilities instead of depending on hospital care.
The RxBox multi-component program includes biomedical devices, an electronic medical record system, and training designed to support maternal and child health care and identification.
Among the built-in medical sensors in RxBox are a blood pressure monitor, pulse oximeter, electrocardiogram (ECG), fetal health monitor, maternal tocometer, and temperature sensor.
UP Manila and UP Diliman teams developed the RxBox with funding from DOST- PCHRD and deployed prototypes to 115 geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA) nationwide in 2016.
During the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, the RxBox was repurposed to serve COVID-19 patients at the UP Philippine General Hospital, the national referral center for COVID patients. The RxBox was an essential tool that lowered the risk for frontline health workers by reducing physical contact at the bedside monitoring of vital signs, oxygen saturation, and electrocardiogram readings of patients diagnosed with COVID-19.
After UP-PGH, RxBox units were deployed to Mindanao rural health centers and more COVID-19-infected areas across the country.
Filipino innovation RxBox Telehealth System is now nearing 1,000 units deployment across the Philippines @upmtelehealth @UPManilaOnline @Official_UPD @DOSTphl FULL STORY on @GoodNewsPinas_https://t.co/0MeY5LnSlg pic.twitter.com/TVJC6oxqQ5
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DOST Secretary Renato U. Solidum Jr. in his message at the RxBox Summit said that the recent COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to address the problem of access to quality healthcare, which the RxBox was developed for, even before the start of the pandemic.
“Through the RxBox multi-stakeholder project, we have immensely contributed to saving lives, especially during the height of the pandemic. Through our courageous and dedicated employees, we were able to reach far-flung and isolated places to deliver S&T interventions. This entails working closely with the communities that we serve and responding to their needs. This project will continue to transform healthcare and people’s lives as long as we continue to work as one,” he said.
He also added that “Filipinos often overlook the importance of health, but we must keep in mind that the greatest asset and most important natural resource of any country are its citizens.”
DOST-PCRHD Executive Director Jaime C. Montoya said that seeing many rural communities benefit from the project made it “totally worth” the funds directed to the conceptualization through the deployment of the RxBox.
“If there is a technology that really benefits the Filipino people, this is it. The RxBox really captures the concept of Universal Health Care. This is what science is for,” he said.
RxBox, he said, is a good example of the whole-of-country approach – that everyone has to converge for the grassroots. Dr. Montoya said that the only way to reach each and every Filipino is the full-blown commercialization of the RxBox.
He shared that the project is in the most crucial part now – its commercialization – that would ensure wider access and use of the RxBox system for public and private users.
He boasted that RxBox has shown that it can adapt to the changing times and respond to the changing needs of the communities. He especially cited that it was able to help achieve the sustainable development goal of reducing maternal and child mortality and most importantly, the restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With this, he issued a call for the Department of Health to help achieve the vision of pushing for the commercialization of the technology.
“I’m very confident that DOH, being already our partner, will be able to help us and most importantly also the LGUs because they can actually acquire their own RxBox unit,” he said, adding that DOST and PCHRD will continue to oversee the RxBox journey.
Lastly, Sec. Solidum revealed that the Department will be proposing a new RxBox deployment project under its Smart and Sustainable Cities and Communities program to sustain the traction it has so far gained.
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