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Doctors’ disease knowledge: an insight into Latin America

A lack of specialists outside major cities means many major illnesses go undiagnosed

Online physician communitiesDelivering healthcare across Latin America's vast territories is a huge challenge for the medical profession, owing to the lack of specialists, the difficulty that doctors face in obtaining educational resources and the language and cultural barriers.  

Since there are few specialists in Latin America and they are generally confined to the big cities like Rio di Janeiro, Caracas or Buenos Aires, where only 50 per cent of the population lives, many major illnesses and diseases go undiagnosed and untreated.  

As Daniel Sanmarco, CEO of Medcenter, a leading online network for healthcare professionals in Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula and part of Networks in Health, explains: "Outside big cities the responsibility for diagnosing and treating major illnesses like coronary disease, for example, rests with primary care doctors. Patients might visit cities once a year to see their cardiologist, for instance, but the rest of the time they will only see their local family doctor.

"This creates a significant knowledge gap, and one that pharma could do much more to help fill, because the lack of specialised doctors means a lot of illnesses are simply not diagnosed or treated."

The need for assistance does not end with the shortage of specialists in Latin America. Many doctors are in need of fairly basic product and disease information to help them in their daily work. However, it is difficult for pharma sales forces to deliver this because of the region's scale and the economic and cultural differences that exist between the Latin American countries.

The internet provides a viable way for pharma companies to support doctors by providing relevant and timely resources on a vast, yet tailored scale. For example, a sales call might cost between $35-70 per time whereas an online community can engage thousands of doctors far more cost effectively. While some pharma companies are still concerned that digital activity may conflict with the sales force, there are signs that the situation is changing in Latin America. And this shift in attitudes could reap great rewards for pharma companies and doctors alike.

For more information on Networks in Health, please email Alex.Merckx@networksinhealth.com. You can also follow Networks in Health on Twitter:netwrksinhealth netwrksinhealth

6th December 2013

From: Marketing

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