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Costa Rica turns to telemedicine for patients in rural areas

November 19, 2019

Trauma patients in Costa Rica can now receive care from the country’s specialized doctors in San José — even if they’re hours away.

Telemedicine is now a reality between the Trauma Hospital in San José and three health centers in Costa Rica.

The technology has already been used with 41 patients in Ciudad Quesada, Guápiles and Liberia, and the service is scheduled to expand to more public health centers across Costa Rica, according to Casa Presidencial.

One example provided by the government detailed how a patient in Guápiles who was recovering from a car accident received his MRI results and had a virtual consultation with a specialist at the Trauma Hospital.

“This new service is a lifesaver,” the patient said, explaining that telemedicine had eliminated the burden of a trip to San José.

Costa Rican authorities say they’re enabling telemedicine in other high-demand specialties including orthopedics, ophthalmology and dermatology, among others. Typically, patients seeking public medical care in those specialties would necessitate an appointment in San José.

Telemedicine is part of a growing push for modernization of healthcare in Costa Rica and abroad.

The Washington Post recently detailed how rural emergency rooms in the United States are increasingly being supported by telemedicine centers staffed by trained physicians.

Meanwhile, Costa Rica in 2014 launched an online appointments platform as part of its “Unified Digital Health Records” (EDUS) strategy.

EDUS provides medical staff and patients access to electronic health records, facilitating continuity of care between appointments and doctors across Costa Rica.

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