Rural Healthcare: Challenges And Opportunities

Bringing Enhanced Telehealth To Mexico's Most Isolated Regions

Note: This blog entry is from Ram Fish, 19Labs Founder & CEO.


Last week, I was in Oaxaca, Mexico to facilitate the launch of a big project between 19Labs and the local government. We're setting up telehealth kits to improve healthcare in multiple isolated communities around the state and thought we'd share a story of the impact that enhanced telehealth can have in some of the most remote parts of the world.

Oaxaca is a mountainous state in Southern Mexico. Access to healthcare in many areas is limited, especially in rural communities where only one physician would look after hundreds of people. One of the first locations we're deploying GALE in is San Francisco Loxicha, a small native settlement hours away from the nearest town and accessible only by dirt roads.


San Francisco Loxicha: A Remote Community With Limited Healthcare Access


High pregnancy rates and perinatal mortality are focus areas in the state of Oaxaca, and the only healthcare service for locals is a clinic led by a young, caring doctor straight out of medical school. Medication in the clinic is very limited and the junior doctor usually refers patients to more experienced family physicians for second opinions.

To get medications or a second opinion, patients need to travel to a small town that is hours away. The bus going there comes very infrequently and is expensive for the locals. Often, two trips are required to get the care they need: first to see a family doctor, and a second one if they need a specialist. This is particularly difficult for pregnant women, a third of the community's patients, especially if they need an ultrasound.


GALE: Connecting Rural Communities To Quality Healthcare


The Oaxaca state government decided to use telehealth to solve the situation in San Francisco Loxicha and other similar settlements. They contacted 19Labs for a solution that will connect these remote communities to specialists in Oaxaca's state capital.

Using GALE's advanced diagnostic devices, such as a portable ultrasound, the junior doctor and his nursing staff are able to run tests on patients from the small community clinic. The data is then transmitted to the specialists (e.g. OB) who ultimately provide second opinions, prescriptions, or treatment plans remotely. This saves patients a lot of money on the long bus trip previously required to meet specialists in another town. Most importantly, it gets patients the medical attention they need before it's too late and their health deteriorates.