Healthcare Marketplace Helps Filipinos Access Health Services

Dexter Galvan, CEO of Alaga Health with COO Dr. Via Roderos standing behind computer screens displaying the Alaga Health platform
Image: Alaga Health
Left: Dr. Dexter Galban, right: Dr. Via Roderoso

Dr. Dexter Galban, the CEO of Alaga Health, a digital health marketplace and health service hub in the Philippines, knows the country’s health system like the back of his hand.

From training as a nurse, then as a doctor, while advocating for better access to health with non-profit organizations, and working with the government, to becoming an entrepreneur, he said he wanted to have a 360° appreciation of the country’s health system.


According to Dexter, access to health services in the Philippines is problematic and patients have to wait for long hours at hospitals for a chance to get a medical consultation. He had a firsthand sad experience when his grandmother passed away because the family was unable to access to and pay for quality home health care.

Working with the private sector, civil society, and government, while being appointed as one of the Philippines’ youngest commissioners working on population and development, made him realize that those spheres tend to work in silos, and that fragmentation in healthcare worsens the accessibility issues, he said.

 “As I was growing up, I saw how health professionals were taking care of my grandparents, and I always wondered what role I could have to help them feel better.” “It is always such a joy to see someone recover and gain back their functionality, able to do the things that they want, spend more time with the people they love, so nobody has to say goodbye too soon.”

“If I did not become a health professional, I would probably have become a lawyer, because I have been trying to push for health policies.” “Some health bills that are currently slated in our legislation are those for which I pushed for while working with NGOs and non-profit organizations,” Dexter said.

Problems in Health Care System in the Philippines – a Tipping Point

One of the tipping points that pushed Dexter into action was that day,  “when I was training as a young doctor going to my hospital duties, at 5 or 6 am, and I saw a long line of people waiting outside the hospital, hoping for a chance to be seen by a health professional.” “I saw this particularly striking elderly man in line,” he remembers.

Later in the day, at the close of the outpatient department where he worked, Dexter came across the same elderly man and asked him how many physicians he had seen and what lab work he had undergone during the day, only to discover that Dexter was the first health professional the elderly man had seen all day. The man had missed a day of work, of wage, and had to spend money on travel and food.

Improving Access to Healthcare in the Philippines

“Something had to be done.” While he had no coding ability, Dexter was a health care system expert and had in-depth knowledge of the business sector and the government. With developers and business specialists at his side, Dexter decided to fund Alaga Health as a way to provide a solution to the disjointed access to healthcare. Alaga comes from the Filipino word that translates to “care” in English, the 31-year-old explained.

The idea was conceptualized at the end of 2019, but it took a year to better explore the market, in particular in the context of the rise of telemedicine applications launched during the COVID-19 pandemic. Alaga Health was registered in December 2020 and has been growing since, developing systems, bringing in new partners, and hoping “more and more people can access healthcare anytime, anywhere, in every way.”

Alaga Health – Healthcare Apps for Healthcare Appointments

“Consult with a health professional anytime, anywhere, in every way!”

Alaga Health seeks to bring patients and healthcare providers, not only doctors on demand, but also other healthcare professionals such as nurses, therapists, nutritionists, psychologists, and counselors, on the same platform.

It is a mobile and web platform hosting several applications and is accessible from anywhere in the Philippines. Alaga Health’s medical apps are designed to be user-friendly and special care has been taken to make the platform appealing to elderly patients.

Patients can access the medical appointment-booking app through their mobile phone or their computer and schedule clinic visits, home visits, or telehealth consultations with any health professional participating in the system. Beyond consultations and visits, Alaga Health promotes health education with learning videos. The company is also testing the rollout of medicine delivery, medicine procurement, and lab care systems.

A patient is holding a smartphone during a telehealth consultation while at home
Image: Alaga Healt)

Alaga Health provides quality service and affordable prices for patients by introducing a measure of competition between health professionals when it comes to prices. It also allows patients to mix and match their health services, as they could get their health services from the private sector, but get their medications from the government.

Empowering Patients and Healthcare Professionals in the Philippines

Most of the time, the narrative on public health focuses on patients and access, however, he said, the issues and plight of health workers are sometimes overlooked.

The Philippines, he noted, is one of the top exporters of nurses around the world. It was important to understand what drives nurses, doctors, and therapists to fly off to other countries while there is a shortage of health professionals in the Philippines, he added.

Alaga Health has “taken the arduous task to address both the concerns of health providers and of patients.” The healthcare marketplace provides health professionals with an alternative source of revenue so they do not have to leave the country to provide for their families. They can adjust their prices, their time commitment, and how they want to deliver their health services, he said.

Free Partner App - Leveraging Data for the Benefits of Patients

“We are a B2B2C and a B2G2C business platform where we collaborate with government agencies or local government units, as well as nonprofit entities, and SMEs,” Dexter explained.

The company charges by the commission and makes some profit from ads and promotions.

There is no subscription fee for patients, who pay a per-service fee to Alaga Health, while there is no fee for health providers “because we want as many as possible to join the platform,” he said. Patients are charged upon booking and Alaga transfers the consultation fees to health providers.

Alaga Health collects data from patients, Dexter acknowledged, but “we wanted patients to be able to leverage their data to get benefits.” In exchange for personal data, the company provides cheaper rates for healthcare services. “This data, in turn, allows us to increase our capacity to grow the company, to negotiate deals with healthcare providers, and provide an incentive for us to push down the rates further.”

The Importance of IP – a “Key Tool for Rapid Growth”

Dexter underlined the importance of IP protection for Alaga Health as a key tool for rapid growth. The company owns trademarks and copyrights and is waiting for feedback from the government about the protection of its codes.

In the Philippines, he said, contrary to some countries, software by itself cannot be patented and that limits the level of protection that the company has. “It is possible to protect codes with copyrights, but every time there is an update, or a new version, you’d have to go through the process again.”

Finding the best ways to protect IP assets would be very helpful in sharing the technology with a larger group of people at a faster pace, he said, making the service available to as many patients as possible across the world.

Expanding Services Overseas for Global Health Access

The company is looking for a way to protect its software in other countries, as part of its expansion plans. Many Filipinos are working overseas and are actively looking for a service such as Alaga Health, Dexter said, adding that Filipinos, given the chance, would much rather consult a Filipino doctor who is relatable and accessible to them. He noted that many Filipino doctors were also working overseas. Overseas workers could also have a choice of doctors from other countries, such as Switzerland, the United States, Malaysia, or Singapore.

One of the priorities of Alaga Health is to launch the full-blown version of its platform (for the moment running as a beta version). The expansion plan is to focus on overseas Filipino workers’ hotspots around the world, such as Spain and Italy.

Last update:

July 6, 2022


Company name:
Alaga Health

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