Health Information Privacy in the Philippines: Trends and Challenges in Policy and Practice

Carl Abelardo T. Antonio,1,2,3 Ivy D. Patdu2 and Alvin B. Marcelo2,4

1Department of Health Policy and Administration,
College of Public Health, University of the Philippines Manila
2National Telehealth Center, National Institutes of Health, University of the Philippines Manila
3Office of the City Health Officer, City Government of Pasay, Pasay City, Philippines
4Department of Surgery, College of Medicine and
Philippine General Hospital, University of the Philippines Manila

Context. Evolution of the scope and context of privacy and confidentiality brought about by use of information and communications technology in healthcare.

Objective. To review the legal, professional and ethical landscape of health information privacy in the Philippines.

Methodology. Systematic review of literature and policy frameworks.

Results. Philippine laws jurisprudence recognize and protect privacy of health information as a general rule; impose upon individual practitioners and institutions the obligation to uphold such right; and may apply in both the traditional and eHealth milieu. There is no existing policy framework that addresses issues relating to [a] access to health information by non-health professionals, [b] use of health information for non-health purposes, and [c] rules relating to collection, storage and utilization of electronically-derived or -stored information. A privacy culture, on either the provider’s or client’s side, is also lacking in the country. 

Conclusion. Technological developments have outpaced policy and practice. There is a need to unify the patchwork of regulations governing the privacy of health information; advocate for a privacy culture among professionals and patients alike; fortify the evidence base on patient and provider perceptions of privacy; and develop and improve standards and systems to promote health information privacy at the individual and institutional levels.

Key Words: privacy, confidentiality, health information, Philippines