I am of the age that doctors used to do house calls. In fact, I was born in our ancestral house. That also goes for my sister. "Doktora Maria" delivered bot of us. She was one of two "Family Doctors". The other one was Dr. Eulalio Berroya. He would come to our hose whenever someone was sick. He would carry his black bag and he rode a bicycle. Doktora Maria would eventually open a Maternity Clinic in front of her houyse along our street and Dr. Berroya's clinic would be at the garage of his home, complete with Kaimito, Chesa, Atis and Mabolo trees. It is either they would come to our house and the houses of our community or they would be attending to patients in their clinics. Eventually both good doctors retires and no doctor in our community made house calls anymore.
Local Health Centers
The transition from “house calls” to “health centers” came in a few years later, particularly in the mid -1980s – early 1990’s. These have now evolved into Barangay Health Centers and Rural Health Units as a result of the “devolution” of National Health Care as per the 1991 Local Government Code.
Thus, the local community doctor is now extinct and another level of public health care has ceased to exist. There are of course private clinics that cater to public health care but these are usually stand-alone clinics with no diagnostic capabilities. In public barangay health centers and RHUs there is limited capabilities with regards to diagnostics and even emergency treatment. Also, these health centers are overwhelmed by sheer numbers of those who need basic health care particularly from those who belong to the lower income levels. Such cases are referred to tertiary hospitals that in most cases are far from those who need urgent health care much less critical diagnostic services.
This is brought about by population pressure and a downstream result is urban sprawl with not enough health care centers to serve the burgeoning population. Most of the residents of these urban sprawls are middle class families who can also afford private clinics for their primary health care. The problem is the availability of such centers.
New Doctor in Town
Ayala Healthcare Holding, Inc. (AC Health) found the need for such a service. It brought back the “family” doctor to these communities. These medical centers can provide affordable, accessible and high quality primary medical services.
Starting 2016, these medical centers commenced operations in their communities and suburbs.
AC Health saw the need for such and invested a huge amount of research with regards to that nich in the industry according tro AC Health CEO Paolo Borromeo.
“We spent around one full year looking at the sector end-to-end,” “We realized that there were so many areas that needed improvement where private sector could, hopefully, help, and we decided to throw our hat into the ring.” said Borromeo
Because these suburban communities are relatively new, there was a dearth of health care infrastructure to serve the needs of the residents and the communities. Established private hospitals presented proximity challenges for these people with health care needs. Thus, Family Doc arrived.
“What we did was we put FamilyDoc right in the middle of their community. Right outside of their villages, in community malls,” according to Borromeo.
Currently, there are two FamilyDocs located Las Piñas City and in Barangay Buhay na Tubig in Imus, Cavite with 4 more expected to pen during the remainder of 2016.
Three in One
Unlike in barangay health centers and even private clinics, FamilyDoc offers a consultation clinic, diagnostic facilities (laboratory and imaging) and a pharmacy wherein FamilyDoc serves as a one-stop-shop for primary health care.
What is critical is access and affordability for the community. They wil;l no longer have to go one place for consultations and another place for diagnostics nd then another place for buying medicines.
The cost for Basic consultation is Php300.00 and laboratory costs can be half what it would be charged in private hospitals.
Each FamilyDoc branch is a “three-in-one” medical center, offering the services of a clinic, diagnostic facility (with laboratory and imaging), and pharmacy. Basic consultation costs around P300, while laboratory tests cost half that charged by private hospitals.
“Ultimately, the goal of FamilyDoc is access,” says Dr. Mike Santos, AC Health medical director, who is assigned to the branch in Brgy. Buhay na Tubig. “We’ve made it so affordable that instead of patients asking their neighbor what to take for a cough, they go to their primary care doctor. That’s what we want to happen in all FamilyDoc branches: That people will trust us enough to give preventive care,” Dr. Mike Santos, AC Health Medical Director said.
Another factor is that FamilyDoc complements the existing barangay health centers and private hospitals. This will augment the current health care institutions with regards to absorbing primary health care needs at the first level. This is due to diligent studying of the communities and health care infrastructure existing in those localities.
FamilyDoc is open from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. Although basic first aid can only be offered for emergency cases these are better than current barangay level public health centers and RHUs.
FamilyDoc has had over 8,000 regular patients and these are monitored at tracked by means of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system provided for by Medix. Medix is one of the leading EMR providers in the country. So any FamilyDoc branch can have access to a patient’s medical records instantly. This is crucial since a patient’s medical history will be very important in diagnostics, medical management and treatment.
FamilyDoc also intends to open up more branches in the immediate future. This goes hand in hand with encouraging many doctors to go into General Practice of GP. The essence of FamilyDoc is the same as the family doctors of bygone years. This will serve as the backbone of the “new” primary health care frontlines in the country.