National Telehealth Center


To engage communities in the design, development and use of appropriate and progressive ICTs towards better equity in health


eHealth in empowered communities.

Created upon the BOR’s approval during its 1122nd Meeting in 30 July 1998, the National Telehealth Center was created as the eHealth (now “digital health”) research and development center of the NIH. The NTHC continues to push forward the digital health agenda in the Philippines through research on standards and interoperability; design, development, and deployment of health information systems to improve clinical care delivery; and policy development and advocacy. Its vision is to be the recognized authority in transformative digital health research and development in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. Its mission is to be a centre of excellence in digital health research through innovative, interdisciplinary, and translational methods towards more efficient health care systems. 

The Center’s mandate is to develop, design, and implement health information systems in the Philippines, as well as conduct monitoring and evaluation projects of digital health solutions for improving health care. It prioritizes digital health research in the areas of electronic medical/health records (EMRs/EHRs), public health surveillance, and telemedicine. The Center equips healthcare professionals and IT personnel on digital health and telemedicine tools in order to deliver more efficient health care services. 

Through the Center and the UP Manila Information Management Service, the NIH continues to improve the computer knowledge and skills of its employees and increase the access to health information through various projects such as information technology and health workshops.

Research Programs:

eLearning and Capacity Building for Health

NTHC spearheads research, seminars, and trainings to build people’s capacities on eHealth. It maximizes widely-used and innovative technologies available so that quality health information would be accessible to those who needed it most. Through a United States Agency for International Development-funded project, the Last Mile Initiative, NTHC was able to conduct eLearning sessions to disseminate information on tuberculosis, child poisoning, avian flu and stroke to barangay health workers in Basak Pardo, Cebu, Nueva Viscaya, Roxas City and Tapaz, Capiz Province. Today, NTHC continues to equip health workers and the general public on how technology could improve health care through its eHealth Seminars and eHealth Training for Educators.  NTHC launched the 1st Philippine Undergraduate eHealth Research Awards to encourage the youth to explore dimensions of eHealth for Philippine development;  outstanding researchers will be recognized in ceremonies in 2013. 


NTHC equips doctors and health workers with eHealth and Telemedicine tools for quality health care. It assists Department of Health Doctor’s to the Barrios (DOH-DTTB)   to manage patients in need of specialty care. Telereferrals are sent and received through mobile phones and internet technologies. eMedicine projects at NTHC started with its CICT BuddyWorks and IDRC*'s SMS and eTBDC  Telemedicine projects. Later on these evolved into the DOST-PCHRD's National Telehealth Service Program (NTSP), which produced the RxBox, a telemedicine device prototype.  The NTSP continues in partnership with the Department of Health.  Since 2004, up to 412 rural remote municipalities or at least 6.6 million people have been served. Currently, 459 municipal health officers and DTTB's are enrolled in the system.   


NTHC advocates and develops electronic medical record systems (EMR) that could easily work with other information systems. UP Manila’s homegrown Community Health Information Tracking System (CHITS) is the first electronic medical record (EMR) system for government-based health facilities. In 2006, it was heralded as a finalist in the Stockholm Challenge, in 2007, it won as the second Best eGov Project during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Digital Opportunities Award, and the Best Health Market Innovation in the 2011 Galing Likha-Kalusugan Awards.  CHITS has been installed in over 208 primary care centers nationwide.  NTHC, in partnership with the IDRC and Provincial Government of Capiz, computerized two of the latter's district hospitals, using OpenMRS.  These together with the CHITS in Quezon and Navotas Cities comprise the largest implementation of OpenMRS in Asia.   


Innovations in mHealth, or the use of mobile technology for health, was ushered in with the SMS reminder system in 2008, with the IDRC and Pasay City, and the Navotas City mCHITS project (2011-ongoing), intended to capture maternal and child health data from the field using Blackberry phones.  The UNICEF rCHITS  project (2012), using basic phones, extended the ICTs for health to the realm of social protection, basic education, civil registration and disaster management through mReports.  Its LGU Dashboard, the mReports viewer intended for use by local chief executives, is a tool for governance.    The NTSP project with the DOH (2011-ongoing) extended telemedicine to R4Health real-time routine regular reporting of selected health data from the field.  By the end of 2012, R4Health would have been implemented in 250 rural remote municipalities in the country.   

CHITS, developed in 2004, is not only an EMR, it functions to monitor performance in reaching goals of DOH priority programs.  Web-based systems of surveillance have been created with price monitoring of essential medicines in the Western Pacific region of the WHO through; it is now on its third iteration.  The NTHC also collaborated with the DOH and the WHO in the development of the NARIS/ National Rabies Information System.  

eHealth and eHealth policy Advocacy

The NTHC participates and leads in eHealth policy research and advocacy. NTHC initiated the Philippine National Health Information Infrastructure discussions (2005), is an active member of the Philippine Health Information Network (since 2007) and among the leaders of ICT4H Technical Working Group, convened to specifically assist the DOH (2010). It advocates standards and interoperability beginning with the Connectathon series, with the Department of Health and WHO (World Health Organization), and other partners in 2011.  It led research in medical privacy and patient information confidentiality especially in the realm of eHealth.  

An advocate for access and participation in ICT for development, the NTHC is the convenor of the International Open Source Network ASEAN+3, created by the United Nations Development Program in 2007, and the Asia eHealth Information Network, in cooperation with the WHO-Western Pacific Regional Office in 2012.

Extension Services:

  • eHealth Seminars – improved version of Health Informatics Seminars (20009-2010); 1st offered in 2011
  • eHealth Training for Educators – 1st offered in 2011
  • Certificate Course in eHealth and Telemedicine, for Referring Physicians
  • Certificate Course in eHealth and Telemedicine, for Public Health Nurses
  • Certificate Course in eHealth – eRecords: CHITS


Institute/Center administration:

Director: Raymond Francis Sarmiento, MD

Assistant Director: Paul Matthew Pasco, MD

Office Address: National Institutes of Health Building, UP Manila

Contact Us

University of the Philippines Manila 
3rd Floor IT Complex, Phil. General Hospital Taft Ave.,
Ermita, Manila, Philippines 1000 
Telephone: (02) 509-1003 or (0927) 986-3703

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