Research exposes the need to maintain essential health services in times of pandemic

06 2023 March
Strachan Chair

Last week, INCAE Business School organized, together with the Executive Presidency of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS), an event to present the results of an investigation on the maintenance of essential health services in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. . Among the results, in the case of Costa Rica's response, the importance of horizontal and vertical integration of the system for the transfer of patients between CCSS health establishments was highlighted. 

The event was attended by the directors of the main hospitals in the country, Regional Directors and Health Areas, the Medical, Administrative, Logistics and Infrastructure Manager of the Social Security, members of the Board of Directors, as well as the Executive President of the CCSS, Marta Eugenia Esquivel.

The investigation mentioned the challenges that the health system faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and how essential services were affected in Costa Rica and in various parts of the world. However, he also highlighted the measures taken by the CCSS and the Costa Rican health system to maintain essential services, and guarantee adequate medical attention to all citizens. Concrete examples of how the CCSS has successfully implemented this strategy were presented, allowing the transfer of patients through coordination and effective communication between Primary Health Care, hospitals and specialized centers.

The event also highlighted the importance of the Single Digital Health Record (EDUS) for monitoring patients in the system. EDUS is an electronic record of the medical history of patients, which allows health professionals to access the information at any time and place. This ensures that patients receive appropriate and ongoing medical care, even if they are transferred to different health facilities within the institution.

Marta Eugenia Esquivel, Executive President of the CCSS

The executive president of the CCSS, Marta Eugenia Esquivel, mentioned that the research presented is a testament to the hard work and dedication of all health workers in Costa Rica. He also emphasized that "a priority is decision-making based on real data, considering that the CCSS is perhaps one of the institutions with the largest amount of data and we must base our decisions on data management to improve the quality of life of our users, let's work on a data policy for the institution.”

During the event, the attendees discussed this topic and worked in workshops to identify actions that the CCSS can adopt to increase its resilience in the face of future health crises. They also highlighted the importance of the study and the need to learn from the successes in order to maintain them and the mistakes to prepare the CCSS to guarantee adequate medical care for all patients, even in times of crisis. 

Andrea Prado, Associate Professor at INCAE Business School and Principal Investigator of the Chapter for Costa Rica, mentioned the importance of Schools of Administration helping to strengthen the management of health systems and organizations. “Health management and healthcare systems face significant challenges, which need to be addressed through efficient and effective resource management, and data-driven decision-making.” Professor Prado also emphasized that "at INCAE we seek to provide management knowledge and skills to the leaders of these organizations, including process optimization, identification of opportunities for improvement, and implementation of effective solutions, always emphasizing better customer service." patients”.

The research was supported by the "Exemplars in Global Health" Program, an initiative that aims to identify and analyze exemplary practices in health systems around the world. The program seeks to understand the key features that make health systems effective, and share these learnings with the world to improve global health.

The event was an important opportunity to share knowledge and experiences for the maintenance of essential services during the COVID-19m pandemic and the importance of resilience in health systems. The complete report of the investigation of the Costa Rican chapter is available on the website of Examples in Global Health.

About the Exemplars in Global Health program

Exemplars in Global Health (EGH) brings together researchers from around the world with the mission of identifying and analyzing exemplary cases in Global Health, and disseminating learning that can be replicated in countries with similar contexts. EGH aims to help decision makers and other relevant stakeholders at the national level to allocate resources, craft evidence-based policy, and make strategic decisions based on the experiences of their global peers. 

Our lines of action focus on the following topics: Reduction of stunting, reduction of under-five mortality, support for community health workers, vaccine administration, mass distribution of medicines, neonatal and maternal mortality, response to COVID-19, family planning, anemia among women of reproductive age, women's health and well-being, primary health care, and adolescent sexual and reproductive health rights. This particular research is in the framework of studies on pandemic preparedness.