Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Communications, Collaboration and Technology

Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group provides a model.

Across Latin America, obstacles to health care access are similar. Beds are full, waiting rooms overflow, and treatment delays are common. Creating equitable access to health services requires addressing the ubiquitous challenges of escalating demand, rising citizen expectations and unrelenting pressure to do more with less.

One solution is to find better ways of incorporating information and communication technology (ICT) into health services. That has been the approach of Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG). In almost a decade of working with Latin American health care leaders, Cisco IBSG consultants have developed innovative health care approaches and modeled the potential economic impact of programs supported by ICT.

In one example, IBSG consultants worked with the Chilean Ministry of Health to design a health program for patients with chronic conditions. The proposed three-phase program began with call-center-based health coaching by clinicians, followed by community-based telehealth kiosks for early diagnosis and, finally, devices for at-home patients for remote monitoring of health status. Five-year savings from the program were estimated to be $150 million.

Much of the recent innovation has been the result of direct input from providers themselves. They have helped to identify where improvement is needed and highlighted promising solutions to the gaps in quality and access. For instance, Cisco IBSG focus groups with Mexican pediatricians and obstetricians in 2003 highlighted the need for easy-to-use reference information. One point of consensus among the physicians was that their top need is “quick answers to clinical questions.” As one physician explained, “The most appropriate thing would be to have an online system accessible to all regions in the country, providing good training to general practitioners through specialist physicians available online, 24 hours a day.”…


Tags: Health care, Information and communication technology
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