It all started over 3-in-1 coffees and biscuits at the Provincial Health Office (PHO) of Tarlac. Back in 2009, the Provincial Government of Tarlac through its PHO was searching for a solution to end the cumbersome and error-prone manual recording and reporting of health data in the provinces. It led the ambitious goal of making Tarlac the first province in the Philippines to have all its Rural and City Health Units (RHUs/CHUs) run on a common digital health platform that follows international and national standards.
The Provincial Government of Tarlac (PGT) partnered with Qualcomm Wireless Reach, RTI International, USAID, Tarlac State University, and Smart Communications to create the Wireless Access for Health electronic medical recording system (EMR) by building on the open-source EMR developed by UP National Telehealth, the Community Health Information Tracking System or CHITS.
WAH-EMR was successfully piloted in four clinics in 2010 as it ushered digital health computing in Tarlac and provided a secure, affordable, and efficient way to record, report, and access health and patient data. WAH gave clinicians the opportunity to use digitally recorded health data to provide more comprehensive care in their clinics.
By 2011, the demand for WAH to be scaled-up in other municipalities increased dramatically. To accommodate the demand, the PGT provided trainers and IT personnel to the project team and provided office space. The Province has barely scaled-up the system in all 39 public clinics in 2012 when Zuellig Family Foundation expressed interest in scaling-up the system nation-wide.
Looking towards sustainability of the partnership, the PGT sought guidance and assistance from partners in 2013 to convert the WAH project into a full-fledged public-private partnership (PPP) organization, non-stock, and non-profit that will provide digital health technology and process solutions to public clinics all over the country. The Wireless Access for Health Initiative, Inc. (WAH) was thus born; giving the Philippines its first and by far the only PPP non-governmental organization on e-/m-Health.
Since then, WAH has been working with almost 3,000 local clinicians to manage and improve local patient and health data for informed decision-making by local chief executives and health managers. To accommodate the increasing and varying needs of its end-users, WAH converted its EMR into a full-fledged digital health platform that boasts of added features such as SMS patient alerts and reminders, online data analytics dashboard, and the use of mobile devices for data recording for barangay health stations. Soon, WAH will also develop a hospital information system for community and district hospitals.
From four clinics 2009, WAH is now present in 151 clinics and is partner to more than 100 provinces, cities, and municipalities. It is expected to partner with 300 clinics and more than 200 LGUs by 2018.