THE revenue of hospitals dipped by 5 percent to 10 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to the Philippine Hospital Association (PHA).
“Coping” is the word PHA President Jose P. Santiago Jr. uses to describe the business side of the hospital industry four years after the Covid-19 pandemic gripped the country.
“Hopefully that will not translate to increased health costs; because you have to really pass that also to the healthcare [sector] kasi pag tumaas yung cost mo ng salaries, of course, dapat may pagkukunan din hospital ng income [because when your cost of salaries increases, of course, the hospital must also have a source of income] such as increase in the rates of the laboratory,” Santiago told reporters last week on the sidelines of the briefing for the upcoming Philippine Pharma and Healthcare Expo.
The head of the PHA—an organization of nearly 2,000 members—explained that fixed expenses like salaries and utilities are driving the increase in the operational costs of hospitals.
“And you have to upgrade your machines. Machines have to be compatible with the present times. Sometimes the old machines that you had before, you need to upgrade and that would be very expensive on our part,” Santiago added.
ACCORDING to Santiago, the dip in the revenues of hospitals, he said, is a “very conservative” estimate, noting that other hospitals are down 20 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels.
“It varies from hospital to hospital,” he said adding that even some of the hospitals within Metro Manila are also losing. He said revenues of other hospitals in the country have not returned to their pre-pandemic levels.
“We’re still looking for the revenues before the pandemic, and up to now, we’re still trying to figure out how we can duplicate revenues before the pandemic. Sa ibang hospitals, hindi pa nila napapantayan yung revenues before the pandemic,” Santiago said.
Moving forward, the PHA chief said in order to drive the revenues of hospitals, there is a need to address the issue of the scarcity of nurses in the country.
“We have to really manage efficiently and I think because of the scarcity of nurses up to now…of course you have to be competitive with the salary,” Santiago said.
He said that the country cannot compete with the salary packages offered by other countries, underscoring that the estimated basic salaries offered by European countries, for instance, are more than double compared to what’s being offered to Filipino nurses in the Philippines.
“Kasi dito mga P30,000 to P35,000 and I think [in] Europe P90,000 to P100,000 [a month], plus they offer services like free education, free board and lodging, tax incentives for the first 6 months, etc.,” Santiago said. “ So hindi natin kaya.” [We can’t afford that.]
IN terms of government assistance, Santiago said the organization is “trying to ask the [Department of Health] DOH is to really help us in healthcare infrastructure,” revealing that sometimes the agency is asking a lot of requirements for health facilities, because of the regulations that need to be changed.
“But now I think we’ve bridged that gap with the dialogue between the PHA and DOH,” he said.
Santiago noted the health agency should interpret with “liberality” the situation of old hospitals in terms of keeping up with the requirements in healthcare infrastructure.
Citing an instance, he said, “Yung size ng mga hallway…kasi may mga old hospitals hindi na standard ang size niya but of course for old hospitals, syempre mahirap mag cope up sa infrastructures. So minsan it should be interpreted with liberality on the existing hospitals.”
“They should allow that kasi pag nagrenovate ka, I think you’re going to encounter many requirements for the renovation and they’d be needing more space for the specialty areas like OR, ICU. Yun ang challenge niya,” Santiago also noted.
THE Philippine Pharma and Healthcare Expo, the largest pharmaceutical, medical and healthcare exhibition in the Philippines, which aims to capture the untapped market of the Southeast Asian Region through the Philippines, is expecting to house over 130 exhibitors and 4,000 visitors from nine participating countries during its event which will run from February 14 to 16.
Participating countries in the said trade event are India, Turkey, Indonesia, Egypt, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Israel.
The organizers of the trade event said pharmacists, heads of medical institutions, heads of regional health authorities, pharmacologists, hospitals are among those that will attend the trade event.
Pharma machinery importers, pharmaceutical firms, technologists, practicing physicians of different specialties, regional dealers and distributors are also expected to visit the three-day expo. (Full story here: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2024/02/07/international-pharma-health-care-expo-slated-from-february-14-to-16/)