Have you ever experienced problems in delivering healthcare services due to the hefty and faulty paper-based systems?  This is a common concern among healthcare professionals which often causes delays and affects the quality of healthcare given to patients. Believing that Filipinos only deserve accessible and quality healthcare, the Filipino startup company, Pivotal Peak Digital Health Solutions, Inc., leverages information and communication technology (ICT) for health to address such healthcare gaps in the country.

Pivotal Peak is the spinoff company utilizing the Community Health Information Tracking System or CHITS technology, a research project conducted by the University of the Philippines Manila (UP Manila) and funded by the Department of Science and Technology- Philippine Council for Health Research and Technology (DOST-PCHRD). The project developed an electronic medical record (EMR) system, which is now utilized by health workers at the regional health unit level, enabling efficient data encoding and retrieval of patient records.  Building on this experience, the company, which is composed of former CHITS researchers as its founding partners, focuses on generating innovations that will allow healthcare providers to adapt to the current needs of healthcare service delivery. 

With its R&D roots, Pivotal Peak was chosen as one of the three grantees of the DOST-PCHRD Startup Research Grant program launched in December 2020. Led by its chief executive officer Dr. Arnulfo del Rosario Jr., a PCHRD Balik-Scientist, the company is set to develop a two-way electronic e-referral system that will facilitate government-to-government, private-to-private, government-to-private, and private-to-government referrals. Trainings for healthcare workers will also be part of the project to ensure that the e-referral system will be effectively implemented.To be executed as a web-based and mobile application, the system will enable a completely digital patient referral process which addresses incomplete patient data, missing and duplicate papers, and other issues that are typical to the traditional paper-based referral system.

With a more efficient referral system, the project is expected to lessen delays in patient referrals, allowing patients to avail of specialized care immediately after receiving primary healthcare. 

Now on its 14th year, the annual Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) week will showcase health research and development in the new normal in the upcoming virtual celebration scheduled on 9-13 August 2021.

Using a combination of live and pre-recorded materials through various online media platforms, the 14th PNHRS Week celebration aims to serve as a platform for the health research community to share their best practices and experiences in pursuit of healthier lives for the Filipinos through health R&D. 

Hosted by the Zamboanga Consortium for Health Research and Development (ZCHRD), the 14th PNHRS Week theme is “Health R&D in the New Normal: Moving Towards Universal Health Care.” 

This year, we recognize the collective work and achievements of the System which supported the passage of UHC and produced relevant healthcare solutions," DOST-PCHRD Executive Director Dr. Jaime C. Montoya says. "As we move forward in the implementation of the UHC, we bank on the System's diverse expertise and strong network once again to ensure that the Filipino people will have access to better healthcare," he adds.

The celebration will showcase new dimensions and ways the 17 regional consortia’s emerging partnerships address the country’s current challenges on health issues and will cover the following activities:

The PNHRS Week is celebrated every second week of August in accordance with Presidential Proclamation No. 1309 of June 2007. 

Interested participants may register through: https://14thpnhrsweekcelebration.dost9.ph.

Written by:
Christine Jane Gonzales
Jwynne Gwyneth Macan

The pioneering batch of grantees for the Department of Science and Technology- Philippine Council for Health Research and Development’s (DOST-PCHRD) Startup Research Grant program presented their engagement plans in a meeting with DOST-PCHRD Executive Director Jaime Montoya last 7 July 2021.

The paradigm shift that we have to appreciate now is that we really need the private sector to support national government-initiated programs. I hope that with stronger private sector initiatives, through the Startup Research Grant program, we can help these startups.” Executive Director Montoya said, expressing the DOST-PCHRD’s commitment to strengthen its support to the Filipino health startups.
Launched in December 2020, the Startup Research Grant is the DOST-PCHRD’s contribution to the implementation of Republic Act 11337 or the Innovative Startup Act which aims to promote R&D in the Philippine startup industry.  The program grants research funding for health startups to encourage R&D in the industry and enhance their product’s market potential. It supports research activities pursuing two main tracks: proof-of-concept to product (POC2P track) and product to market (P2M track).
Three Filipino startups were chosen for the program’s first round of call for proposals namely, SEEYOUDOC Corp., Medhyve, and Pivotal Peak Digital Health Solutions, Inc. The Council will be supporting them in the conduct of the following projects:
1)    Development and enhancement of an interactive analytics platform for medical facilities to provide assessment of telemedicine adoption (Implementing Agency: SEEYOUDOC Corp.) -SEEYOUDOC is an online medical appointment booking system which also integrates features such as medical notes, e-prescription, and digital payment systems for healthcare providers. The DOST-PCHRD will fund the development of an enhanced interactive analytics platform to measure the effectiveness of telemedicine in the operations of medical facilities. Availability of this data is expected to guide users on how to further utilize telemedicine to increase their financial outcomes. To know more about SEEYOUDOC's services, visit: www.seeyoudoc.com.
2)  Utilizing MedHyve Intelligence’s Forecasting and Product Recommendation Engine to Improve MedHyve Marketplace using Recurrent Neural Network and Hybrid Recommender - an Artificial Intelligence approach for Predictive Procurement (Implementing Agency: Agora Technologies, Inc.)- Medhyve is an online procurement platform that connects healthcare administrators to a network of trusted medical suppliers. The project will develop Medhyve Intelligence, a suite of artificial intelligence-powered procurement tools and dashboard which aims to address gaps in the current procurement processes of health facilities. It is intended to enable simplified and more efficient procurements in private hospitals in provincial areas. To know more about MedHyve's's services, visit: www.medhyve.com.
3)  Enhancement of the Design and Field Testing of an Electronic Referral (E-Referral) system for Service Delivery Networks (SDNs) in support of Universal Healthcare (UHC) (Implementing Agency: Pivotal Peak Digital Health Solutions, Inc.)- Pivotal Peak is a spin-off company from the DOST-PCHRD-funded project Community Health Information Tracking System or CHITS. Its features include electronic medical records (EMRs) for healthcare providers, online referral system of specialized clinical services, and telementoring for health workers. The project will generate a two-way electronic referral system for service delivery networks (SDNs), for a more efficient workflow to patient status. It will enable government-to-government, private-to-private, as well as private-to-government referrals; improving access to healthcare for patients. To know more about Pivotal Peak's services, visit: www.facebook.com/pivotalpeakPH.

To develop research proposals that are consistent with the language and mindset for mental health research in the Philippines based on the Mental Health Law, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) and the Mental Health Research Advisory Group (MHRAG) introduced today the Quality Mental Health Research in the Philippines: Conceptualization, Design, and Methods manual.

Developed based on the discussions from the PCHRD-hosted writeshop entitled, “Capacity Building in Technical Writing for Mental Health Research Proposal Development” last 24 November 2020 and 5 December 2020, the working manual serves as a compilation of the essential discussions exchanged between the lecturers and participants during the  writeshop. 

The purpose of this document is twofold: first, to serve as a working manual to guide mental health researchers in the submission of their proposals to PCHRD and other research organizations and second, to record the rich discourse on mental health concepts and research framework generated from the writeshop,” said Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, PCHRD Executive Director.

The 102-page manual is also supplemented with slide presentations used during the writeshop which are made publicly accessible online. Worksheet activities are also included at the end of each chapter to guide the researchers in developing research proposals.

It is recognized that the production of this manual is an initial venture in writing manuals on mental health research in the Philippines. Hence, it is considered as a “work in progress” in developing quality mental health research in our country,” said Dr. Lourdes Ladrido-Ignacio, chair of MHRAG.

The manual is free and is accessible through this link.

With the leadership of Philippines and Singapore, ASEAN member states will collaborate for the first multi-country regional study on COVID-19 serosurveillance among the ASEAN population by September this year. 

In line with ongoing vaccination efforts, the study will probe the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in seroconversion or the process of generating antibodies as a protection against viruses, such as SARS-CoV-​2. The study also aims to provide evidence-based understanding on the prevalence of COVID-19 reinfection after seroconversion.

By conducting a serosurveillance study, we will be able to analyze how effective our vaccination programs are going,” Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD)  Executive Director Dr. Jaime C. Montoya says. “This will help us assess the level of immunity or protection that the COVID-19 vaccines can provide to the recipients, and identify for how long this immunity will last,” he adds.

The study will recruit 200 participants from each participating country based on an inclusion and exclusion criteria. Data gathered from the study will serve as inputs in crafting public health strategies to help contain the spread of COVID-19, such as recommendations for the administration of booster shots for high risk groups including healthcare workers. 

Funding for the project is expected to come from the ASEAN S&T Innovation Fund (ASTIF), its dialogue partners and other international funders. To support the implementation of the project in their respective countries, Singapore and the Philippines through DOST-PCHRD will also contribute to the funding. 

The regional project will be led and co-led by Dr. Kristine de la Cruz of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and Dr. Linfa Wang of Duke-NUS Medical School. The ASEAN Network for Drugs, Diagnostics, Vaccines and Traditional Medicines Innovation (ASEAN-NDI) and the DxD Hub Singapore will coordinate and oversee its regional implementation. Other participating countries include Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. 

Aside from this project, the region will also collaborate for the ASEAN COVID Genomics Project which will focus on virus strains detected in the region. This study will be led by Malaysia and Singapore.