#HealthXPh for a #healthierPH: From Click to Brick
My passion has always been in digital technology and writing. I dabble in these pursuits, together with my field of specialty, orthopedics. I had an inkling that these pursuits could be somehow harnessed for social good. But I couldn’t figure out how. Then the Leadership Journey came."
Can social media – with its avalanche of memes, status updates and selfies – somehow help improve healthcare in the Philippines?
Remo Aguilar, MD, thinks so.
An avid blogger and tech-geek with an active orthopedic surgery practice, Dr. Remo stands directly at the intersection of health and technology. Based in Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat in Mindanao, Dr. Remo combines his interests by using Google’s free technology to map healthcare centers and hospitals in the Philippines, so that patients could easily find them. He has also created blogs about health, connecting with like-minded doctors online to discuss healthcare issues and spark change in the health system.
“My passion has always been in digital technology and writing. I dabble in these pursuits, together with my field of specialty, orthopedics. I had an inkling that these pursuits could be somehow harnessed for social good. But for the longest time, I couldn’t figure out how,” Dr. Remo shares.
He already had the passion; what he needed was a plan. “Then the Leadership Journey (LJ) came,” he says.
Nominated by an alumnus of the first LJ, Dr. Remo joined the 2nd run of the leadership development program for healthcare professionals. The 5-day Journey was held in Siargao, Surigao del Norte, and gave doctors like Dr. Remo a rare opportunity to revisit their purpose and renew their commitment to their calling. The program just concluded its 7th run last April.
“LJ taught me to embrace my talents and trust my internal compass in order to help others. It gave me hope that everything else would conspire for my chosen path. This inspired me to learn more and harness social media to empower healthcare stakeholders,” shares Dr. Remo about his experience.
After LJ, he devoted his energies to different advocacies, trying different approaches to bring his rekindled dream to life. But it was not until Yolanda, the devastating typhoon that wreaked havoc on Eastern Visayas in 2013, that he was led to a concrete path.
“During and after typhoon Yolanda, I volunteered online to help coordinate typhoon response via social media and Google-mapping evacuation centers and remaining healthcare facilities.
“It was during this time that I met my #HealthXPh co-founders, Dr. Iris Tan and Dr. Gia Sison—both based in Manila—online. Like me, they were assisting Yolanda responders via social media. Dr. Iris posted online about her wish to attend a healthcare social media summit in Paris called Doctors 2.0, where healthcare stakeholders talk about how digital trends would improve healthcare globally. I commented on her post, saying, ‘Why don’t we organize our own summit to help our healthcare industry?’ That sparked the beginning of #HealthXPh. We contacted social media and patient advocates Dr. Gia Sison and Dr. Narciso Tapia, and after a flurry of online discussions, the #HealthXPh as an online platform was born,” he narrates.
As described in healthxph.net, #HealthXPh is “a collaborative effort by healthcare stakeholders – including healthcare professionals, healthcare institutions, academe, patients and policy makers – to discuss and use emerging technologies and social media to positively impact the Philippine health landscape.” It fulfilled its founders’ wish, and now hosts the Healthcare and Social Media Summit, which gathers hundreds of participants from various fields annually.
As an active online community, #HealthXPh is not anymore just one doctor’s dream come true. It is a powerful tool for the exchange of ideas and the birth of real transformation. Most importantly, it is now a conduit for more paths towards a bigger dream – a healthier Philippines.
“My LJ experience did not only awaken my desire to help my countrymen, it also encouraged me to embrace my individuality and harness my skills to bring concrete, positive changes to health in our country,” says Dr. Remo – one of the many doctors who, in their own ways and their own spheres of influence, are building a healthier Philippines, one click, one brick at a time.
Remo Aguilar, MD is an alumnus of Leadership Journey Run 2. He is the co-founder of #HealthXPh, a collaborative platform on health and social media by healthcare stakeholders (www.healthxph.net). Join his community and participate in the discussions on Twitter using the hashtag #HealthXPh.