Innovations for Community Health, Inc. (InnovationsCH) launched its TeleDOTS Services online last November 25, 2021, via Kumu, with the theme: Sa Biyaheng TeleDOTS, Ligtas Ka!
Through its social enterprise clinic and laboratory Kalinga Health, InnovationsCH recently held the virtual launch of their newest innovation, the TeleDOTS service via the Kumu platform. The online event brought together different sectors of the community, participating in the launch program that also doubled as an advocacy event on minimizing discrimination and stopping the stigma against patients with tuberculosis (TB). The theme “Sa Biyaheng TeleDOTS, Ligtas Ka!” is a campaign regarding the safety of patients when they come to Kalinga Health, taking care of them every step of the way.
COVID-19 has disrupted the delivery of many essential services, including access to life-saving healthcare services and diagnostic procedures. As a response to the current status of the healthcare delivery system in TB, InnovationsCH piloted the infusion of telemedicine and traditional directly observed treatment, short-course (DOTS) to ease the navigation of patients being referred to the Kalinga Health facility for diagnosis and treatment. This service aims to help patients navigate the cascade of care for tuberculosis by minimizing their contact with the outside world, essentially assisting with all steps in managing their disease from cough to cure.
Patients enter the TeleDOTS cascade after triaging by the dedicated patient engagement and TeleDOTS specialist (PETS), who receives all incoming inquiries through the TeleDOTS hotline. The PETS then determines the next step in the cascade where the patient needs to be, such as diagnosis, initial consultation, or treatment initiation. Once a patient has entered the management cascade via TeleDOTS, he or she will be guided throughout the whole process, from specimen collection for diagnostic workup to the door-to-door delivery of their life-saving medicines. The PETS, in partnership with the Kalinga Health clinic team, ensures that every patient who enters the TeleDOTS cascade and becomes diagnosed with TB will be taken care of until they “graduate” from treatment and eventually become TB-free.
As of writing this article, the service has already catered to almost 50 patients, with approximately half already receiving treatment. The current PETS, Ms. Mykaela Santos-Novio, shared during one of the meetings regarding the status of TeleDOTS that her profession as a social worker has been instrumental in her role as a patient liaison and triage officer. Through her, patients referred by our partner doctors all over Metro Manila have been diagnosed, had their initial consults, and are already starting their treatment course.
The TeleDOTS marketing campaign, launch, and implementation is part of the service delivery development pipeline of InnovationsCH and one of its emerging strategies in public health delivery. InnovationsCH, through its private sector engagement team, is currently nearing the completion of its Wave 8 Project, a TB-focused public health implementation funded by the StopTB Partnership, a hosted entity of the United Nations Office for Project Services currently based in Geneva, Switzerland. The Wave 8 Project is focused on five major cities in the eastern district of Metro Manila in the Philippines, namely Mandaluyong, Marikina, Pasig, Quezon City, and San Juan.