Digitalizing the Costa Rican Health System Data Base to Save Lives

Our Country at the forefront of medical data technology worldwide

Since 1941, Costa Rica has a health system that has been developed under the directive of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS). Since the 1990s, it is structured by levels: first level, as a gateway to the health system through the Basic Teams of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO / WHO) that is providing technical collaboration to facilitate tools and methodologies that support the country in the formulation of the national health plan with the participation of various institutional factors.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Daisy María Corrales Díaz, during her visit to the World Health Organization (PAHO) in May of this year, requested cooperation from PAHO to develop the national health strategy and plan. This initiative aims to strengthen equitable access to health services for the population through the effective and efficient use of information technologies, as well as contribute to strengthening the capacities and knowledge of health workers.

The components of this plan includes: electronic files, use of mobile devices, provision of health services using information technologies (telehealth), training and virtual education, continuing education in information and communication technologies, digital health services (appointments, medical records, etc.), standardization and interoperability between different technologies and software applications for the exchange and use of data in an efficient, precise and solid way.

Costa Rica has advances in the use of ICTs that are part of the National Health Science and Technology Plan. Strategies such as electronic file development and online availability of health statistics, Virtual Public Health Campus, Human Resources Observatory, among others, are underway. On the other hand, international experts have listed the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) as a solid institution, and place Costa Rica as one of the leading countries in health and pensions in the entire Latin American region.

Last June, Doctor Reginald Thomas, director of the Inter-American Center for Social Security Studies (CIESS) and Renato González Carrillo, of the Inter-American Conference on Social Security (CISS) stressed that the challenges in the region are important and that Costa Rica does not escape from this situation, but they stated that the Costa Rican health and pension system have taken giant steps in solving issues in a way which few countries have achieved.

They stressed that one of the most important points in the country is the universalization (accessibility) of services so that any person can receive care in any part of the country, with access from the least to the most complex of health services, in addition to having a system of pensions that allows older adults to live with an increased quality of life.

For his part, Dr. Thomas stressed that the challenges of the health and pension system of Costa Rica are similar to those of the rest of the world, since there are tasks that go beyond social security but that directly affect it, He also indicated that the economic reality of each country is crucial for their respective social security systems with some critical determinants such as market behavior, taxpayer rate, investment rate, among others.

On the other hand, Costa Rica, continuing its goal to achieve world recognition as an innovative country, also stands out with great advances in digital medical records. Our country is part of the American Network of Cooperation on Electronic Health (RACSEL) that seeks an integration process between the countries of the region, which allows patients to access their digital medical record from any region where they are located.

In order to achieve the integration of all Latin American countries, it is sought that nations standardize digital architectures, terminologies, regulatory frameworks, developing operational models of interoperability in health and pharmaceutical sectors. The countries that so far make up this Network are Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, and Uruguay. In this regard, the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) recently reported that it was able to implement the electronic prescription in all its 29 hospitals, a mechanism through which, according to the institution, improved the quality and safety of patients.

According to Dr. Esteban Vega, coordinator of Pharmaceutical Services of the CCSS and engineer Manuel Rodriguez, director of the Single Digital Health Record (EDUS), this is a major achievement in the institutional route of digitalizing all health centers. The goal is that by the end of this year 2019, electronic prescriptions will be already fully implemented in all health facilities that the institution has in the national territory: 29 regional hospitals, 106 local health clinics, and 1053 EBAIS, Vega said.

For Rodriguez, the impact that this step has is of great importance for the patients because the system can generate alerts that allow both the prescriber and the user to be notified about the interactions that can occur with the medications. Similarly, the implementation of these files will allow notification when a drug is being prescribed in high or low doses that may affect the quality of therapy.

The Calderón Guardia Hospital already has this mechanism in the 20 services it offers. From there medications are dispensed to approximately 340 users per day, that is, about 14,300 medications per month. This has been a source of satisfaction for users who have seen this innovation in a very positive way and very successful since avoids the long stand in line to deliver the prescriptions or to acquire the medicines. Also to guide users about the times for delivery of medications and the opening hours of the “External Consultation Pharmacies”. Together with this process, the signing up of new users was made with the QR code placed in the services that already have this type of recipe, to facilitate the process to people who wish to have digital access to the information in reference…

The digital revolution for the management of patient experience through health data is working to save lives in a more precise and timely way, and it continues to fully develop with the purpose of reaching communities in all countries around the world.

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SOURCEEdixon Colmenares
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