‘Money’ is the first thing that comes to mind when Filipinos talk of the ‘costs’ incurred during any hospitalization. But not many realize that there’s more to just expending money during instances like this.
Nobody likes being and staying sick—but for some Filipinos, going to the hospital is an option that they’d rather forego. It’s not just about the money or cost of treatment for some; instead, it’s about the overall burden that they feel may outweigh the severity of their health conditions.
Imagine being sick and still having to endure long lines for your checkup. Imagine having to take time off from your work and lose a day’s worth of salary on top of medical fees. Imagine risking exposure to other infections and health conditions on your hospital visit. Imagine being confined and away from your loved ones while battling an ailment.
Truth be told, these scenarios aren’t too difficult to imagine because it’s the reality that most Filipinos face when it comes to healthcare. Combine these with the perceived high cost of hospital care especially for non-health card or non-insurance policy holders, and it becomes understandable why many Filipinos choose not to go to hospitals. The mere thought of room rates, professional fees, medication, laboratory fees, and other costs, makes them delay or decline hospitalization unless they are critically ill and do not have any other choice (Hospital Price List in Philippines: Compare Cost 2023 – Medical Pinas).
But is there even another way for a sick person to recover or get treatment for their health conditions?
The other option
For some patients, the answer is yes. Those who aren’t required to be hospitalized, including people whose severe infections can be treated by prescribed antibiotics and such, can opt for outpatient ER appointments, employ a home-care nurse, or administer their medications by themselves. But while these are less daunting than hospitalization, there are also downsides to these options.
Oral antibiotics, when not administered properly may give the patients the risk of treatment failure and relapse. Outpatient ER treatments also provide almost the same hassle as being hospitalized, and it is also not advised for patients who require multiple daily doses of antibiotics. Hiring a private nurse may be extra costly for some, and it also requires the patient or their family to acquire medical tools on their own.
Instead, patients may opt for a medical service called OPAT, or Outpatient Parenteral Antibiotic Therapy. OPAT is the treatment of serious infections allowing patients to receive their intravenous antibiotics in an outpatient clinic or the comfort of their own homes, without having to undergo the rigors of traditional hospital admission while relishing the benefit of a more affordable medical cost.
A patient’s testament
For patient LJ, a 38-year-old engineer diagnosed with Ocular Syphilis, OPAT is a convenient alternative to receiving medical treatment without interrupting his daily life.
Following a doctor’s referral after his blood test findings, LJ discovered OPAT.PH and its services that enabled him to receive his IV treatments without hospital admission. “The treatment can be done outside the medical center, and I can engage in my day-to-day work or daily activities.”
OPAT is a safe, effective, and patient-centered treatment that delivers antibiotics directly to the bloodstream through intravenous (IV) injection for a more effective cure. It provides IV antimicrobial treatment to eligible patients—including those with severe or deep-seated infections that require parenteral treatment but are otherwise stable and well enough to forego hospital admission—in an outpatient setting or the comfort of their own homes.
Before OPAT, patients who needed long-term IV antibiotic therapy had to stay in the hospital to receive their treatment even if they were stable enough to be discharged. Through OPAT, patients receive the right antibiotic therapy for the treatment of their serious infections in the presence of their loved ones. Given the convenience that OPAT provides, patients remain productive in school or work without compromising the success of their medical care.
What sets OPAT.PH apart from competition is the availability of the elastomeric pump (also known as a balloon pump or ball pump), a medical device used for suffusing medication which may include antibiotics, analgesics, and local anesthetics, among many others, in accordance with the therapy required by the patient.
For LJ, this has made all the difference because he was able to receive the appropriate treatment which he needed without having to sacrifice his work nor interrupt his normal daily activities. With OPAT.PH, filing a sick leave from work just to receive medical treatment is no longer needed. “Daily replacement of IV pump is easily done by my co-workers with the support of the OPAT.PH Team using the pre-recorded video,” he said.
LJ also notes that there’s no need to worry about administering the proper treatment because the OPAT.PH team is always ready to assist in every step of the way. In fact, LJ recounted an instance of the OPAT.PH team’s close monitoring and care when one of his veins suddenly got inflamed and his IV line needed to be replaced. “The value of malasakit and comfort is always reflected in the way they care for every patient,” LJ underscored.
Patients are also guaranteed to be in safe hands as OPAT.PH also champions antimicrobial stewardship, a systematic effort to improve and educate both medical practitioners and their patients regarding proper antibiotic prescription and dosages. Through this effort, OPAT.PH aims to protect patients from the harms of possible antibiotic and antimicrobial overuse that could lead to antimicrobial resistance.
OPAT for Filipinos
OPAT started in the UK back in the ’70s, and its reach has since grown substantially to areas in the US and Asia. Singapore was the first to practice it in 2001, followed by Australia, and there are also OPAT clinics around Hong Kong (China), Japan, and Indonesia.
In the Philippines, this breakthrough treatment can be availed through OPAT.PH, an infectious diseases specialty clinic that aims to provide Filipino patients with the opportunity to complete their antibiotic treatment safely and conveniently without the need to stay in the hospital. With the use of a portable infusion pump, patients can receive their antibiotic regimen not only safely and effectively but also conveniently—anywhere and at any time.
Patients who are eligible for OPAT include the following: those with infectious diseases needing IV antibiotics for treatment, those staying in the hospital for the sole purpose of receiving IV therapy but stable enough to go home, and those hoping to avoid hospital admission when treatment could be dispensed at home.
OPAT.PH’s services are carefully monitored and supervised by an experienced Infectious Diseases Physician internationally trained in outpatient parenteral antimicrobial therapy. At the helm of the clinic is Infectious Diseases Specialist, Dr. Ryan M. Llorin, who is also a practicing Infectious Diseases consultant at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City and Bonifacio Global City, as well as Cardinal Santos Medical Center. He gained his extensive OPAT training and experience when he served as an Infectious Diseases physician at Tan Tock Seng Hospital and the National Centre for Infectious Diseases in Singapore. Aside from his comprehensive general infectious diseases and OPAT experience, Dr. Ryan M. Llorin also received training and work exposure in the fields of HIV medicine, travel medicine and vaccination, antimicrobial stewardship, and infection control. Together with him is OPAT.PH’s Medical Affairs Director, Dra. Regina Grace Buzon-Llorin.
The outpatient medical services from OPAT.PH can be done at home or in OPAT.PH’s clinic in Shangri-La Plaza, Mandaluyong City. The facility specializes primarily in infectious diseases (ID) and medical IV infusion and provides outpatient antimicrobial therapy in the clinic or through the innovative elastomeric infusion pump. It also offers the investigation and management of various infections and infection-associated conditions, including bone (osteomyelitis) or joint infections (septic arthritis), heart valve infections (infective endocarditis), urinary and gastrointestinal tract infections, bloodstream (bacteremia), brain infections (brain abscess, meningitis, neurosyphilis), skin and soft tissue infections (cellulitis), and deep-seated organ infections such as liver or lung abscesses, among many others.
OPAT.PH also offers a multidisciplinary approach to providing individualized treatment plans for patients who need long-term IV antibiotic therapy and closely monitors the treatment of these patients. Patients are assessed once a week to check on the effectiveness of the treatment, including the identification of any possible side effects from the medicines, and intravenous access is also checked. The OPAT.PH team (comprised of an Infectious Diseases Specialist, outstanding OPAT Nurses, and Pharmacists) coordinates with the attending physicians and relays the status of the infection, the patient’s response to treatment, and adverse effects of medications, if there are any.
This revolutionary clinic also readily offers other infectious diseases-related services such as infectious diseases (ID) management and consultations, IV-line access, vaccinations, Travel Medicine, wound care management, and HIV pre-exposure and post-exposure management and counseling. It also provides medical services such as medical consultations (Wound Care, Hematology, Rheumatology, Dermatology, Pulmonology, Neurology, Pediatrics), immunotherapy services, vitamin and nutrition infusion, and pharmacy.
The OPAT.PH advantage
A first of its kind in the Philippines, OPAT.PH ensures that patients get the best medical care for the treatment of their infections without compromising their health which can happen with prolonged hospital stay. Patients are guaranteed treatment success—thanks to receiving the right antibiotics at the right time, with the appropriate dosage. With OPAT.PH’s services, patients do not need to undergo hospital confinement, reducing the cost of medical care while eliminating the risk of hospital-acquired infections.
Most importantly, patients will be able to return to work, school, active lifestyle, and other commitments earlier while maintaining optimal medical care.
People tend to heal and recover faster and better in their own homes or in facilities where they are comfortable, especially with caring and efficient personal support who will assist them during their treatment. This is exactly what OPAT.PH provides—a calm and comfortable environment that is convenient and more affordable. With OPAT.PH, patients can now access the treatment they may desperately need because it promises every Filipino patient a healing journey that is faster, safer, and more effective in the heart of their own homes and in the presence of those they love.
OPAT.PH’s clinic is located at the 5th Level, East Wing, Shangri-la Plaza, Mandaluyong City. For more information and inquiries, you may text or call (0968) 888-9771, or visit opat.ph. For updates, follow its Facebook page.