Connect for Life

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS or UNAIDS envisions that by the year 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy. And 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

To achieve these objectives of quality care and service in both treatment and prevention, it seems that there exists calls to action.

Number one, a call for equal access to critical HIV and AIDS services for everyone. Not, just people who can afford healthcare, but every person in the Philippines – in each of our more than 7,000 islands, who is living with HIV.

Second, is the call to improve the quality of HIV services to meet all of the primary care needs of the patient. HIV healthcare is not only providing antiretroviral therapy. In fact it is one of the most complicated conditions to manage as one needs to go beyond an individual to truly impact on the disease.

Everything within and surrounding the person living with HIV can impact is health outcomes. Management of this condition goes beyond the pathophysiology within the body. The person’s Habits & Routines, presence of absence of Social support, intensity of medication Side effects, timing of medications, concurent substance use, mental wellness, and the stigma placed on HIV by society all affect one’s ability to survive HIV and to live well with it…despite it.

At SHIP, we acknowledge this multi-layered complexity of HIV in our patients and try our best to address these needs.

Clinical services cut across the whole spectrum of patients. SHIP is set up in such a way to really cater to needs of patients first, to break away from traditional structure. As a non-government organization committed to bridging gaps in healthcare, SHIP has as its mission to innovate. Innovations that are geared toward improving care and building capacity.

Connect for life was one that we took on under the innovation mission —  with the goal to improve quality of care for our patients living with HIV.

To understand how Connect for Life can actually have an impact in HIV healthcare, we need to understand the importance of adherence.

The World Health Organization defines treatment adherence as “the extent to which a person’s behavior – taking medications, following a diet and/or executing lifestyle changes – corresponds with agreed recommendations from a health care provider.”

Proper adherence results in:

(1) Suppression of viral replication and improvement immunological and clinical outcomes;

(2) decrease in the risk of developing HIV drug resistance; and

(3) Reduction in the risk of transmitting HIV.

Recent data of adherence among SHIP patients in the last 3 years show that suboptimal adherence exists in 20% of patients. Still not a good number. Remember, to achieve 90% viral suppression, one must have optimum adherence of at least 95%.

How does Connect for Life help?

Connect for life has 4 main services to increase the quality of patient healthcare and medical management of patients living with HIV: pill reminders, appointment reminders, symptom reporting, and health tips.

All patients identifiers in the system are encrypted and stored- i.e- Patient name, address, telephone number. These are also not represented in reports and only as system generated ID.

The calls patient receive are also pin locked and it is a unique pin that is shared with patients. No one else can answer the call if they answer with adding the pin they will not hear any message so their confidentiality/ status is protected.

The system can be integrated into existing Electronic Medical Record services.

CFL is an innovation that aims to help decrease new infections through Treatment as Prevention, by keeping our patients engaged in care.

READ MORE: What is Connect for Life?

READ MORE: The SHIP Experience