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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Keynote Speech during Opening of 26th National Statistics Day hosted by DOH Region 7

Director Florendo of the Philippine Statistics Authority;  Dr. Eddie Llamedo, Chief Public Affairs Office; Dr. Jonathan Neil Erasmo; Friends from the Philippine Statistics Authority; Colleagues in the DOH; Friends from various Government officies;

Ladies and gentlemen.

Isang Pabebe Wave sa Inyong Lahat.

It’s National Statistics Day so let us talk of Aldub to illustrate how important statistics is. Do you know that statistics plays a role in the TV network wars betwwn Aldub and Pastillas? The statistics we are gtalking about is the no. of tweets for hashtags such #Aldub or #Pastillas.

So you see statistics is indeed very important. Even TV networks recognize its importance. Data in the internet such as no. of tweets on Twitter with certain hashtags are now being analyzed.

Statistics is important much more so with us in government.  Decisions are made on policies to benefit the public based on statistics -the policy on the use of seatbelts in vehicles for example.

Success of programs are evaluated using statistics.

A number of statistics - results of various surveys are published online in the Philippine Statistics Authority website covering various fields of interest - Education and Mass Media, Labor and Employment, Income and Poverty, Agriculture and Fisheries, Energy Consumption, to name some. We should take advantage of these as we make decisions and policies.

In Healthcare, statistics played an important role throughout history. Vaccination to protect against certain infectious diseases have been justified with the help of statistics. Smoking came to be known as associated to many diseases including cancer because of it. Risk factors of heart disease were identified with its help. And so we encounter terms used in textbooks, journals and other scientific literature such as odds ratios and risk ratios.
Statistics is now made easy for us these times because of technology. We have statistical softwares to help us. Very big chunks of data can be collected, processed and analyzed. There is no denying, data is within reach in the same way that we can say Universal Health Care is within arms reach.

The theme for this 26th National Statistics Month celebration is “Pagyamanin at Gamitin ang Estadistika, Kalusugan para sa Lahat ay Abot Kamay na.”

I am sure you have heard of the DOH’s Goal of Kalusugang Pangkalahatan under President Aquino’s administration. Healthcare now more than ever is being made more accessible. Indigents now need not fear going to hospitals when the need arises because of their own financial constraints with Philhealth’s programs such as Tsekap and No Balanced Billing. More and more patients are enrolled in Philhealth to avail of benefits and with each enrolment, loads of data is being supplied and stored, waiting to be analyzed, potentially helpful data.

Technology as mentioned earlier has introduced new data sets such as Big Data.  The term “Big Data” came about with the rise of social media. It is characterized by 4 V’s -  Volume, Velocity, Veracity and Variety. The best example to illustrate Big Data is data obtained from social media (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc.) Each day, how many people  log in their social media accounts and post statuses on Facebook, 120 character words in Twitter known as tweets at the same time? Millions. They post what they see, how they feel, if they are sick. Each second, imagine how many such posts are made. That’s Volume and Velocity. Just about anyone can post in various forms – video, audio, photos, short messages, comments, blog posts, etc. VERACITY and VARIETY. This is BIG DATA and it is a gold mine of data even for health. We need to add a fifth V to it – VALUE and that’s where statistics can also come in. By analyzing the content and themes for example of these posts and applying statistics, we may be able to predict upcoming outbreaks.

But actually BIG DATA is not just limited to social media or the internet.  In fact, data collected by Philhealth is considered potentially as BIG DATA. It also possesses the 4 V’s with many patients hospitalized, undergoing hemodialysis or procedures each day. Philhealth data is rich with data that may be beneficial in establishing disease associations with information such as demographic data, diagnosis, length of stay, cost of treatment and many more. Imagine the valuable statistics that can be generated by these data of course without disregarding ethical, privacy and security issues that need to be addressed. In fact, in the recent Global Forum for Research and Innovation I just attended, I just learned that South Korea has been analyzing their BIG DATA from Philhealth’s counterpart there for generating useful statistics for health providing information such as distribution of medicine, prescribing tendencies, medical equipment distribution, supply and demand of medical service, among others. To make this possible, establishment of a fully functional health information system is key along with a solid IT infrastructure.

Let me go back to this celebration’s theme.
Pagyamanin at Gamitin ang estadistika. 

We have the potential of Big Data from Philhealth which may be combined with other data collected from other hospitals, agencies, communities or baranggays. The first challenge perhaps is moving from paper-based records to making everything digital or electronic. That’s one way para pagyamanin ang Estadistika but a very challenging one.

Big Data will figure prominently in the future of statistics - A treasure chest of data that will go hand in hand with our goal of Universal health Care. We need more data scientists for this. We also need to be prepared and equipped in processing these complicated data, and walking the pathway of Health Information Technology is the way to go. But there’s reason to celebrate….exciting days are ahead as we are on the right track. Philhealth has the Philhealth Information Management System and the DOH is for a Unified Health Information System that works on interoperability of systems among authorized parties and caregivers so that sharing or exchanging of data is made possible to eventually improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare delivery. That way, statistics will also have its contribution to the goal of Universal Health Care. Sa Tamang Panahon. Thank you and Happy National Statistics Month to all.

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