How Smart Mobile Technology is Boosting Healthcare and Tourism in the Philippines

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Smart Communications Inc., the wireless unit of Philippine telecommunications leader PLDT, developed mobile solutions in 2017 to further improve the delivery of healthcare services, as well as boost local tourism.

Giving the gift of smile

Smart unveiled early this year the latest version of the Operation Smile app, which was developed as a Java-based solution in 2012. Now available for both Android and iOS devices, the app was launched as part of Operation Smile Philippines’ (OSP) 35th anniversary, with the campaign #UntilWeHeal.

A Smart employee-volunteer takes photos of a young cleft patient and records her details using the Operation Smile app during a medical mission in Dumaguete City in September 2017.

The app, which is being used by volunteers from OSP and International Care Ministries, helps in digitizing medical information and mapping cleft patients. It enables OSP to plan medical missions in a more efficient manner, by targeting areas with high number of cleft incidents.

This year, Smart supported OSP’s medical missions in the following areas: Batangas, Bacolod, Dumaguete, and Iloilo.

Since the organization’s launch in 1982, more than 31,000 lives have been changed by Operation Smile in the Philippines. This year alone, around 900 beneficiaries have been treated, while more than 600 patients have been encoded in the app.

Efficient health monitoring

Secured Health Information Network and Exchange or SHINE OS+, an electronic medical record (EMR) and referral system launched in 2011 by Smart and Ateneo Java Wireless Competency Center (AJWCC), is continuously being deployed in rural health units and communities nationwide.

Since 2015, Smart’s SHINE OS+ has been able to digitize close to 177,700 patient records from 25 RHUs covering 23 municipalities in Cebu; four RHUs from Iloilo; four from Rizal; and one each for Bohol, Bulacan, Kalibo, and Masbate.

Some of the communities and RHUs that adopted SHINE OS+ this year include Gawad Kalinga Ark of Noah in Bocaue, Bulacan; Pototan and Banate RHUs in Iloilo, and RHUs 2, 3, and 4 in San Mateo, Rizal.

A student-volunteer encodes a patient’s medical information using SHINE OS+ during the platform’s turnover at the Gawad Kalinga Ark of Noah community in Bocaue, Bulacan, in September.

AJWCC has also developed SHINE OS+ Mobile to make the platform accessible to health professionals in the field; and MySHINE, which was designed as a companion app for patients whose healthcare records are stored in the network.

A new plug-in for SHINE OS+, called EpiNurse, was also created as an emergency risk reduction tool in Nepal, which had become vulnerable to calamities and conflict. The Nursing Association of Nepal in Kathmandu recently trained on EpiNurse, or Epidemiology + Nursing for Disaster Risk Reduction. EpiNurse allows the collection of public health data, which is crucial in preventing disease outbreaks and mitigating disaster risk.

The multi-awarded SHINE OS+ was recognized by four local and international awards bodies this year. It won a silver Anvil at the Anvil Awards of the Public Relations Society of the Philippines, and a merit award at the Philippine Quill Awards of the International Association of Business Communicators-Philippines.

The program was also announced winner in the healthcare category of the Golden World Awards of the International Public Relations Association, and received the Social Contribution Award at the World Communication Awards of international industry publication Total Telecom.

For its part, EpiNurse received the Risk Award at the 2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Cancun, Mexico. The award, issued every two years by the Munich Re Foundation, the UN office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the Global Risk Forum Davos, honors innovations aimed at disaster risk mitigation.

Travel for wellness, adventure

Using technology, Smart also tapped the healthcare sector to advance initiatives on wellness, as well as tourism.

With the Philippines emerging as one of the top medical tourism destinations in the world, Smart collaborated with The Medical City (TMC) to welcome medical tourists with a special prepaid SIM card.

Foreign patients who are traveling to the Philippines to obtain treatment at TMC will get a complimentary Smart LTE Tourist SIM, which they can activate upon arrival in the country. The Smart LTE Tourist SIM offers 300 MB of data valid for three days, plus 700 MB data reward when users top up at least P30 within three days of activation.

To further promote local tourism and cultural heritage, Smart and InnoPub Media developed the KulToura app and Davao Guide mobile guides. A handy tool for both tourists and students, the apps feature top destinations and attractions, historical information, popular personalities and other trivia obtained from the archives of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

These mobile solutions are part of the Digital Tourism program of Smart in partnership with local government units. The program also includes the installation of QR codes on special markers, which give mobile users access to more information on selected tourist attractions, allowing them to travel the Philippines like never before.

As part of its technology-for-development initiatives, Smart continues to work with other organizations and create innovations to help people achieve healthier and more meaningful lives.