Telecare Providing Opportunities for C&WP
Panamanian incumbent Cable & Wireless Panamá (C&WP) has partnered with iSoft Sanidad to offer telecare services to users of Panama's social security agency, Caja de Seguro Social (CSS). iSoft will work with the part government-owned operator to roll out a health information system (SIS - Sistema de Información de Salud) providing an electronic health record (eHR) service to approximately 2.8mn Panamanians whose healthcare is provided by the CSS . BMI believes government driven services such as these are important for the continued roll out of telecare services across emerging markets.
Rolling out an eHR system brings several efficiency benefits to CSS patients, ensuring medical staff have full access to all records. The iSoft service will collate information such as laboratory results and x-rays automatically on a single system, reducing the time between tests and results. The system can also send automatic prescription requests to pharmacies and generate immediate follow up consultations. The main aim of the system is to keep patient information in a single place and create greater interaction between the different healthcare providers.
The SIS aims to allow Panamanians to seek health services at any CSS centre, with their eHR allowing the healthcare professionals to have access to prior test and notes. The service will require healthcare professionals to understand and use new software, as well as institutions to have dependable access to internet services.
|eHR To Provide Efficiency Gains|
|Government Healthcare Expenditure|
Panama stands out among its Central American peers in both the telecoms and the healthcare markets. The country has by far the most advanced telecoms infrastructure in the region, a fundamental factor in rolling out a Health Monitoring service. However, BMI notes that broadband penetration, while high in comparison to its neighbours, remains below 10%. In order for the SIS to function, we believe reliable and widespread internet access will be essential. This is to be provided by partnering with C&WP.
BMI forecasts government spending on healthcare will continue to rise, reaching PAB2.6bn (US$2.6bn) by 2017. However, as a percentage of total healthcare spending, this will fall to just over 55%. By implementing an eHR system, BMI believes the government will be looking to make spending more efficient and continue improving services. The cost of rolling out the SIS should be recouped in future efficiency savings. The new SIS will cost PAB11mn and will be rolled out to 42 health institutions by August 2014, reaching 2.8mn Panamanians insured under the CSS.
By partnering with the local telecoms operator, BMI expects that investments will be made to local internet access to ensure health centres have consistent access to data services. While the development will not generate more subscribers for C&WP, the company will benefit from a new, consistent revenue stream in providing access to CSS institutions.