By Alithea De Jesus
Not many are aware of the role of the Family Physicians especially here in the Philippines as everybody seemed to be used to immediately consult the specialist doctors.
Truth is, most of the medical concerns do not need a specialist yet, that is why the Family Physicians also known as primary care physicians are there when you and your family members need them as they can help you avoid becoming sick, and treat you when you are suffering an illness or injury.
Aware of the limited movement and availability of the technology that provides access to everyone, the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians (PAFP) has collaborated with virtual healthcare app eZConsult as the digital platform for its remote consultation initiative dubbed Family and Community Engagement through Telehealth Service (FACETS), which is geared towards serving residents of local communities who are experiencing COVID-related symptoms but have not yet seen by a medical professional.
“FACETS is the PAFP’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said PAFP president Dr. Maria Victoria Concepcion P. Cruz, “Family Physicians are the first point of contact for a significant population of patients. As such, we play an essential role in the fight against diseases including Covid-19.”
The FACETS program aims to promote the creation of a private-public partnership between local government units and the PAFP. During the pandemic, the FACETS volunteer family physicians will offer free virtual consultation services for COVID cases, provide health education, and primary care counseling for patients and their families.
PAFP, the specialty organization of Family Medicine specialists, is one of the largest medical specialty organizations under the umbrella of the Philippine Medical Association with more than 7,000 members across the country. Their members include primary care physicians dedicated to providing holistic, accessible, continuous, comprehensive, family centered, coordinated, compassionate and culturally effective health care.
Through FACETS, the PAFP proactively responds to medical needs of the community by helping to address the ongoing threat of COVID-19, which is in line with the academy’s long-term commitment to empower Filipino families with reliable access to efficient healthcare to all and as called for under the Universal Health Care Law.
“Because of the pandemic, the world has seen the importance of telemedicine as a tool to provide quality, affordable, on-demand healthcare while protecting the safety of both patients and providers, not only for COVID-infected patients, but also for those with other illnesses,” said Dr. Cruz.
According to Dr. Cruz, eZConsult will provide Family Physicians with an end-to-end solution – from initial online consultations to the start of treatment and monitoring and nearly everything in between. Patients on the other hand, can easily connect with healthcare providers without leaving their homes, whether it is to book consultations, get e-prescriptions and medical certificates, or schedule laboratory tests.
“We are honored that PAFP has chosen eZConsult for its telehealth project,” said Kidit Afable, Vice President for Strategy and Innovation of Zuellig Pharma, which developed the virtual care app. “eZConsult was co-created with doctors and patients to deliver a seamless solution that allows simple, secure and safe access to healthcare. This ensures that we mitigate exposure to and reduce the spread of COVID-19 as far as possible,” he added.
Available in both iOS and Android, the eZConsult mobile app has integrated retail pharmacy partners, laboratories, and fintech companies that can provide advice, support and services to both doctors and patients through the platform.