The International Fellows Program developed an innovative approach to preventative care to help people improve their health.

OCT 23 2018

For many people throughout the world, access to basic preventative health technology and services is limited, even for something as simple as a blood pressure test. As a global healthcare company, Abbott is partnering with nonprofit organizations to bring these services to the people who need them most.

For people in Honduras, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and high blood pressure are on the rise and are proving much more fatal than other conditions.

Compounding the problem is most of the Honduran population only has access to the public healthcare system, which is largely overwhelmed and under-supported. People often are diagnosed at a late stage of their disease and don't receive appropriate access to health technology, treatments or long-term care.

Partnering with the best

To address this issue, PSI, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health around the world, and Abbott initiatied the International Fellows Program. In 2016, Abbott sent two employees to Honduras to work collaboratively with PSI and its local network member Pan-American Social Marketing Organization (PASMO).

PASMO and the Abbott fellows focused on helping people use resources such as PASMO's "Clínica Médica Red Segura" model clinic, which offers high-quality and affordable preventative health services, including testing for hypertension and type 2 diabetes for lower- to middle-income patients.

Creating a winning strategy

As part of the program, the Abbott fellows worked on understanding patient health needs by researching patient ability and willingness to seek and pay for services for hypertension and type 2 diabetes. They conducted focus groups and one-on-one interviews to gain important insights, which drove the design of proposed strategies.

After hearing from patients, the Abbott fellows considered healthcare services that could meet patients' needs and then asked what the patients thought about the relevance of those services. The fellows learned that basic services were of greatest interest, such as medicines (80 percent), urine and blood exams (58 percent) and nutritional and physical counseling (45 percent).

Through these conversations, the Abbott fellows also learned that disease prevention and wellness are not part of the culture in Honduras. Much of the population doesn't seek preventative checkups and lacks adequate healthcare information. As result, many diagnoses of type 2 diabetes and hypertension occur in later stages of those diseases.

Creating a solution

Besides the lack of information about NCDs, the inability to pay for products and services was the greatest threat to a person's health. So, the Abbott fellows went to work designing and testing an approach that would offer people a variety of options for desired services and ability to pay.

Additionally, the Abbott fellows proposed an outreach strategy that would highlight important information about NCDs as well as services offered by Red Segura, increasing the local community's awareness and driving traffic to the clinic.

It became clear to PSI and PASMO that they had the opportunity to change type 2 diabetes and hypertension management in Honduras. By simply offering basic services through the Clínica Médica Red Segura and providing quality care at reasonable prices, the perception of how and when to seek medical care in Honduras is changing for the better.