Pediatric telemedicine experts from the University of California Davis (UC Davis) recently visited UP on March 1, 2017. They delivered a lecture at the UP Diliman Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute in the morning and paid a courtesy call to UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan, UP Executive Vice-President Teodoro Herbosa, and UP Vice-President for Public Affairs Jose Dalisay at the conference room of the UP Office of the President in the afternoon. The UC Davis experts are UP’s collaborators, along with UC Berkeley, for a Commission on Higher Education-Philippine-California Advanced Research Institutes (CHED-PCARI) project, “Increasing the Rates of Newborn Hearing Screening with Novel Technologies and Telehealth” or the “HeLe: Hearing for Life”. It is under the Institute for Health and Innovation and Translational Medicine. Working on the project are the UP Manila-National Institutes of Health, specifically the Philippine National Ear Institute and the National Telehealth Center, and the UP Diliman Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute. This CHED-PCARI project aims to develop a low-cost newborn hearing screening device with tele-audiology capability for the Philippines. It is headed by Dr. Charlotte Chiong of UP Manila as the Philippine project leader and Dr. David Lindeman of UC Berkeley as the US project investigator.
The guests from UC Davis were: Dr. James P. Marcin, chief of the Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine and Director of Pediatric Telemedicine, UC Davis Center for Health and Technology, and co-investigator for the HeLe project; Mr. George Wu, technical manager of the Center for Health and Technology, UC Davis Health System; Ms. Jamie L. Kissee, pediatric telemedicine project manager for the UC Davis Pediatric Tele-Emergency Program; and, Ms. Ilana Sigal, pediatric telemedicine research analyst at UC Davis Health System.
Joining them during the courtesy call were representatives from UP’s side of the project: Dr. Rosario Ricalde, clinical associate professor of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at the UP College of Medicine and UP Philippine General Hospital and program manager of the HeLe project; Dr. Luis Sison, professor at the UPD-EEEI, director of the UP Technology Transfer and Business Development Office (TTBDO) and co-principal investigator of the HeLe project; Dr. Lorraine Hermosura-Faeldon, health analyst and public health official with the Philippine Biomedical Device Innovation Consortium (PBDIC), DOST-UP Enterprise Center for Technopreneurship; Dr. Patrick John P. Labra, ENT and otorhinolaryngologist practicing at the UP PGH; Mr. Nathaniel D. Cruz of the UPD-EEEI, who is part of the team that developed the: Electronic Natal Assistive Intervention (eNA)I, a locally-manufactured version of the RxBox, a medical-grade telemedicine device designed to serve rural areas and local health centers in farflung and disadvantaged areas in the country; and, Ms. Allia Acosta, research administrative assistant for the HeLe project.
Launched when an agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation was signed by the US and Philippine governments on June 8, 2012, the PCARI Project aims to enhance the skills and expertise of faculty and staff of Philippine universities and colleges through scholarships, training and research partnerships with topnotch research universities in California, USA, under two priority areas or virtual institutes: information infrastructure development, and health innovation and translational medicine, under which the HeLe project falls. The Institute for Health Innovation and Translational Medicine directs projects in health care through strategic technology, delivery and training, so as to improve diagnosis, treatment and health services delivery in the ten major causes of morbidity and mortality in the Philippines, such as asthma, diabetes, tuberculosis, dengue and diarrhea.
The HeLe project in particular aims to develop a low-cost newborn hearing device with telehealth capabilities that will enable local health units of all municipalities to easily comply with the mandate under Republic Act No. 9709 or the “Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and Intervention Act of 2009” to screen all newborns for hearing loss within three months after birth. According to the PCARI website, the project intends to build capacities of primary care health facilities for newborn hearing screening and primary care health professionals to screen and appropriately refer patients identified to have potential congenital hearing problems. Given the University of California’s recognized expertise in the field of biomedical device development, the collaboration between UP, the Philippine government and the University of California is sure to fast-track device development to facilitate the full integration of the tele-AABR and local telehealth protocols (tele-audiology and tele-learning).