Establishing the Legal Framework of Telehealth in the Philippines

Ivy D. Patdu and Allan S. Tenorio

National Telehealth Center, National Institutes of Health, University of the Philippines Manila

The National Telehealth Service Program aims to address the inequity in health, and to utilize the advancements in information and communication technology to improve health outcomes in the country, primarily through telemedicine. There are no laws that directly govern the practice of telemedicine but the implementation of the National Telehealth Service Program has legal implications. The Round Table discussions were effective in identifying key issues such as the nature of the practice of telemedicine, liability issues for stakeholders, and the privacy concerns in Telehealth. Based on an analysis of these issues in the context of relevant laws and jurisprudence, it is established that those who practice telemedicine will have a duty to exercise diligence in managing patients or providing specialty advice. The standard of care for physicians practicing telemedicine should take into consideration the limitations of technology and the inherent differences between telemedicine and face-to- face doctor-patient consultations.

The National Telehealth Center has a responsibility to put in place internal policies and procedures that would improve the delivery of health services through telemedicine while safeguarding the patient’s right to privacy. Current laws, particularly the Data Privacy Act of 2012, puts emphasis on obtaining patient’s consent and requires putting in place organizational, physical and technical security measures in the collection and processing of personal and sensitive information.

Key Words: Telemedicine, Telehealth, eHealth