Putting patients at the center of Chile's healthcare system

Heart disease. Diabetes. Obesity. Cancer. With chronic conditions on a steady climb, affordability and access to quality healthcare are some of the greatest challenges developed and developing nations face. These challenges are exacerbated by outdated healthcare IT infrastructures which make it tough to access up-to-date patient medical records. When healthcare data isn't universally accessible to both patients and physicians, it's difficult for patients to manage their conditions and for physicians to deliver high-quality care.

In Chile, fixing healthcare starts with fixing healthcare IT infrastructure

"What was your blood pressure at your last doctor's visit?" In Chile, patients have to keep track of important medical information like this all the time — as they travel from doctor to doctor to manage a chronic disease or from remote areas to urban centers to receive better care. Any gap in information or incorrect data can result in medical mistakes.

Chile's Ministry of Health (MINSAL) is tackling this problem head-on — and there's a lot to be inspired by and learned from their bottom-up approach. For MINSAL, it's all about data interoperability and a healthy IT foundation. With Google Cloud's Apigee platform, MINSAL has begun to create a system that democratizes access to information by making it accessible to any citizen or healthcare worker, no matter where they are.

An API-first architecture, powered by Google Cloud's Apigee

Apigee has been the accelerator for the entire program, providing visibility and controls that make APIs easier to manage. By using APIs to abstract back-end complexity into predictable, consistent interfaces, developers in Chile can connect data, services, and apps across their nationwide system more quickly and efficiently. The result is a more seamless experience for doctors and patients, a secure but agile infrastructure for MINSAL, and a transformed healthcare system.

Now IT professionals can onboard their information systems in an organized, more secure, and self-service manner, providing easy access to data and actionable knowledge to healthcare workers on the ground. It helps alleviate stress and potential errors so the focus can be on managing health — not managing outdated information systems. The ultimate goal is to keep patients at the center of care.

Aashima Gupta, Global Head of Healthcare Solutions at Google Cloud, explains the impact of this approach: "The effect is that no matter where you are, a healthcare provider is able to securely pull up your information, not consolidated in one place, but through a secure network of connectivity."

Instead of being greeted with questions like, "remind me what you're here for again?" Chilean patients can be confident that their doctors have all the information they need to give them high-quality care. The API platform has already helped MINSAL reduce costs through streamlined information, fewer delays, and fewer duplicate medical tests.

Looking towards telemedicine and more empowered patients

MINSAL wants to empower citizens to take control of their own care using technology. This effort is focused on treating today's chronic conditions and is an investment in creating an ideal environment for long-term health and wellbeing for all Chileans. A connected IT infrastructure will also eventually allow for the delivery of care via telemedicine, which means rural populations can connect to experts in metropolitan centers. This is a tectonic shift and a tremendous step toward democratizing access to care in Chile.

"We still struggle with interoperability in the U.S.," said Gupta. "Chile is a small developing nation and has the potential to become a North Star for how to deliver a connected world-class care."


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