There are many excellent doctors in the Philippines and many that are not so good. The challenge for the expat is to tell which is which. Here are a few suggestions.
One possibility is to go to one of the top Philippine hospitals; St. Luke’s, Asian Hospital or The Medical City in Manila or Chong Hua in Cebu City. These hospitals have web sites which list doctors by specialty. We hope that incompetent doctors are less likely to be tolerated at the top hospitals. That said, there are excellent physicians elsewhere, but it’s hard for the newcomer to distinguish the good from the bad.
Another suggestion is to choose a doctor trained at one of the top Philippine medical schools such as University of the Philippines (UP) and University of Santo Thomas (UST). UP provides a top medical education at a public school price. Hence, admission to UP medical school is highly competitive and seems to be based on merit.
The United States Embassy has hospital and doctor recommendations at its website. They’ve recently added a new and expanded downloadable section for Manila doctors. These lists certainly don’t include all good doctors and hospitals in the Philippines but are a good starting point.
The New York Times has a good article on medical care overseas, “Going Abroad to Find Affordable Health Care“.
The Joint Commission International is the accrediting organization for hospitals. You can check to see if a hospital is Joint Commission accredited at http://www.jointcommissioninternational.org/JCI-Accredited-Organizations/ We could only find three JCI accredited hospitals in the Philippines; St. Luke’s and The Medical City, both in Manila and Chong Hua in Cebu. As the NYT article says, “Keep in mind that commission accreditation is the floor, not the ceiling.” ”Be sure to read carefully, a commission spokeswoman, Elizabeth Zhani, warned. You may find a facility’s name on the accreditation list, but it may be that only an affiliated lab or clinic is accredited, not the entire facility.
The New York Times article also mentions the the Medical Tourism Association which vets hospitals before accepting them as members. See http://medicaltourismassociation.com/ It’s worth noting that Singapore has many top Joint Commission member hospitals and that prices for major surgery may well be no more expensive than in the Philippines.
Another foreigner observed that the best Philippine hospitals are similar to a hospital found in a small city in the U.S. They are NOT equivalent to the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins and other major medical centers in the U.S. We find this to jive with our experience in the U.S. and in the Philippines. Previously we lived in Plattsburgh, New York, a city of about 10,000. Plattsburgh and the surrounding area is served by the Champlain Valley Physician’s Hospital (CVPH). Bob had emergency room care for chest pain at both C.V.P.H. and Chong Hua Hospital in Cebu City. Bob feels that the care at C.V.P.H. was much more thorough. For example, his blood oxygen was low so they preformed a nuclear perfusion scan to check for a pulmonary embolism. CVPH wanted to be sure to explore every possibility. Chong Hua provided basic tests to see if Bob was having a heart attack. This is not to denigrate care a Manila hospitals. It is intended to put medical care expectations in perspective.
We have found the online service HealthTap to be useful. This is a free service which allows you to post a brief medical question and have it reviewed and answered by specialists in the U.S. You can use it to get a second opinion regarding advice provided by a local doctor.
If you ask a Filipino for a recommendation, be aware that any recommendation may be influenced by his or her family and business relationships. They are not being deceptive. They may well choose their own doctors that way. In the Philippines, relationships are often more important than other considerations.
We have to mention that the best doctor’s offices are usually very, very busy.
We can suggest some Manila doctors which we have consulted and found capable.
Gladys Ruth David is a Manila cardiologist with a general practice and with a specialty in heart rhythm problems; electrophysiology, radio frequency ablation, and pacemaker and implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICD). She maintains clinics at the Philippine Heart Center (63-2-925-2401 loc 3442) and Cardinal Santos Medical Center 63-2-727-0001 loc 2378. Call for an appointment.
John D.C. Anonuevo is a cardiologist with an excellent reputation. Bob saw him and was impressed. He holds a very busy clinic at the doctor’s office building, room 316, of the Manila Doctor’s Hospital Phone: (02) 524-3011 Local 4503. Clinic Schedule by appointment: MWF 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Willy G. Lopez is a well regarded, Columbia University trained neurosurgeon. He maintains clinics at Cardinal Santos Medical Center (63-2-727-7662), The Medical City (63-2-635-6789 local 5068) and Makati Medical Center (63-2-894-1709)
Christine Fernando-Palma is a gynecologic oncologist. We were very impressed with her when we consulted with her. She maintains clinics at St. Luke’s Medical Center 63-2-723-1083 and The Medical City 63-2-635-6789 loc 5076
Jean Anne B. Toral, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Gynecological Oncology. Dr. Toral was Carol’s surgeon. See more HERE. We are happy to recommend Dr. Toral as a capable and compassionate physician. Clinic at Don Santiago Building, 1344 Taft Ave across from Philippine General Hospital. 63-2-567-3908.
Here are a few links which may help you choose a doctor or hospital:
Older list of Manila and provincial hospitals and doctors from the U.S. Embassy: http://manila.usembassy.gov/wwwhlmed.html
New downloadable list of Manila doctors and hospitals from U.S. Embassy: http://manila.usembassy.gov/wwwhedoc.html
Asian Hospital, Alabang (Manila) http://www.asianhospital.com/index.php
St. Luke’s Medical Center, Manila http://www.stluke.com.ph/
Chong Hua Hospital, Cebu City http://www.chonghua.com.ph/homepage.html
The Medical City http://www.themedicalcity.com/
You can see our account of the excellent care we received at Manila Doctor’s Hospital HERE