The Lopez Family Foundation has chosen Panama as the recipient of the Lopez Family Foundation Pediatric Telemedicine Program. We are excited to deliver state-of-the-art digital diagnosis and video conferencing technology to seven health centers across the country for the purpose of improving the pediatric healthcare/patient outcomes, as well as helping to advance medical knowledge at collaborating hospitals and clinics. Partnering with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), this program will enable medical professionals within Panama to seek diagnosis and consultation opportunities between the program’s medical centers and the pediatric specialists at CHLA. The CHLA relationship will also provide the Panamanian medical professionals access to advanced clinical training/continual medical education.
Pediatric Healthcare in Panama
Today in Panama, most children are treated by physicians practicing general family medicine. For the most part, only special cases are referred to a pediatrician or pediatric hospital for focused medical care. 38% of Panama’s population is located within the rural sections of the country. Many of the families living in these areas must travel great distances for medical care. In the Ngöbe-Buglé region, where most of the indigenous population resides, patients must often travel by foot for hours to reach the nearest medical clinic and even further to access specialized pediatric care.
As for the country’s major pediatric medical centers caring for children requiring hospitalization in specialized facilities, two are located in Panama City, and one in the City of David:
In the past, there has been minimal clinically-focused communication between the three hospitals. The Lopez Family Foundation program will address the need for timely patient and academic-focused communication between those facilities.
Miles outside of the metropolitan areas of Panama, there is an existing small rural videophone-based network which has provided communication linkages between three indigenous health clinics within the Ngöbe-Buglé region and the Rural Hospital of San Felix (Hospital Obaldía is located 80 km from the Rural Hospital of San Felix) . Improving these linkages will also be a focus of our work.
Goals of this Program
The Lopez Family Foundation Pediatric Telemedicine Program is well-suited to address the needs of the pediatric care community in Panama. Building on knowledge gained from implementation of the Foundation’s telemedicine network in Puerto Rico, the team believes that a similarly constructed network can make significant improvement in the overall healthcare system and increase pediatric healthcare accessibility to thousands of people living in rural areas of Panama. The goals for this project include:
Through the use of telemedicine technology, augment the infrastructure within the rural health clinics to improve the access to medical care for local indigenous populations.
Establish telemedicine linkages between the Hospital San Felix, Hospital Obaldía, the Hospital of Pediatric Specialties, and the Hospital del Niño to increase the overall level of clinical collaboration between the institutions, and to train physicians and medical personal in the use of new communication and information technologies to improve the quality of health care in the hospital settings and the communities.
Establish telemedicine linkages between the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the medical centers to provide critical consulting services and medical second-opinions on complex cases across a wide variety of subspecialty areas, and provide their medical professionals access to advanced clinical training/continual medical education.
We are excited about this telemedicine program and our efforts to create an impact on pediatric healthcare in Panama.