mHealth training provides job hope to unemployed nurses

Unemployed nurses in the Philippines are finding ways to market themselves thanks to a new mobile app enabling them to work as online health consultants. The Center for Technical Excellence Integrated School Inc. (CTEISI) in Baguio City recently launched a "TeleNursing" pilot program aimed at training Filipino nurses for healthcare consultancy careers via mobile phones, according to an Inquirer Technology article.

Someday soon, Filipinos may consult telenurses--who will manage patient records through smartphones--about their health problems on a fee-for-service basis. Called "clickmedix," the app allows nurses to upload the medical conditions of patients for examination and diagnosis by an in-house doctor of ClickMedix Mobile Healthcare by Experts, an online healthcare provider. CTEISI trains the nurses how to use the technology who, in exchange, share a portion of their revenues with the company to access the doctors and an online medical library.

"There are so many nurses who are unemployed and we want to address that. And there is a way for technology to [aid in] healthcare," CTEISI president and CEO Bryce Fabro said. "We want to equip nurses to make them relevant for tomorrow."

Nurses go through a two-week training program that sends them out into communities, many of them poor, so that they can learn first-hand about health problems that are common in neighborhoods. As they visit patients, the nurses store data in a personal chart format through the clickmedix app, as well as pictures of patients to help doctors make an accurate diagnosis.

In a similar initiative, Navotas City announced in Sept. 2011 that it was implementing an electronic medical record system through mobile phones, in partnership with the University of the Philippines (UP)-Manila National Telehealth Center. The Community Health Information Tracking System (CHITS) uses mobile phones to enable healthcare professionals to collect patient data at the point of care and merge it with health center-stored data through the Internet.

Elmer Soriano, country manager of Access Health International, believes telenurses could provide a bridge between poor patients and doctors through an electronic referral system, and that Baguio City has the potential to become a telenursing capital due to the fact that the city's schools graduate 20,000 nursing students each year.

"We have been practicing  'telehealth' services informally. But on a commercial and professional level, we need to come up with business models to legitimize the services," Soriano said.

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