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How a telehealth company delivered vital care in rural Chile

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed vast gaps in people’s experiences of healthcare depending on where they live. 

Digital healthcare services have emerged as a way to reduce these inequalities. Telehealth in particular, its usage massively boosted as a result of the pandemic, can deliver doctor consultations remotely, eliminating the need to travel long distances for a face-to-face appointment. 

Recently, telehealth company Tyto Care began delivering primary care to the under-served community of San Bernardo in rural Chile. This city, on the outskirts of the capital Santiago, has a population of around 300,000 people, of which almost 23,000 are adults over 65, and about 18,000 have two or more chronic conditions. 

In addition, there are about 65,000 people under the age of 18, 85 per cent of whom are below the poverty line, with childhood obesity, possible diabetes, and a considerable increase in heart problems being potential risks. 

Almost 80 per cent of Chile’s landscape is made up of rugged mountains, and most of the country’s population lives in or near them. However almost 60 per cent of doctors and over 40 per cent of hospital facilities are concentrated in the central part of the country. This makes it a challenge for people to access even basic healthcare services; the lack of human resources and tools required in a medical environment mean that even a simple checkup requires long, harsh travel, and wait times for basic care can exceed 500 days.

The municipality pf San Bernardo decided to invest in the implementation of Tyto Care. Over the course of three days, clinicians visited 100 families using Tyto Care’s handheld remote examination device. Vitaltec, a healthcare provider who represents and distributes Tyto Care products in Chile, helped deliver the care programme. 

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