The Emergency Room is the most common way in which the users of the health system try to access "medical appointments", since hospitals are obliged by law to attend to those who are brought in or present themselves. This measure is taken by those desperate after long attempts to get an appointment with a doctor of their EPS.
Another of the current and ineffective solutions that have been implemented in the health system, is the platform of call centers to request these appointments and avoid the long lines outside the EPS and hospitals but these measures are in some cases more complex and frustrating. "Calling for an appointment is a hell", says a patient, "More than a month ago my EPS sent me to a specialist. I called the call center to make an appointment, but it's no good. It's a brake. My family went directly to the medical center they assigned me, to ask for the appointment, and they told them that it could only be done through the call center. "This is the labyrinth of medicine for Colombians.
Sometimes patients get stuck in a menu of options. "Dial 1 if ... Dial 2 if ... Dial 0 to repeat this menu ...". Other times the system collapses and it just does not work.
Experts in the country say that the call centers of the EPS and IPS have become one of the strategies to contain administrative expenses, but on the one hand, the people who attend to the calls do not have any type of training. On the other hand, when patients finally manage to get through they are faced with the full schedule of doctors and therefore have to call back and start the frustrating process all over again.
The Ministry of Health issued resolution 1552 of 2013, which obliges health institutions to implement more intelligent and efficient systems to provide solutions to patients and avoid conflicts, displacements and waiting on long lines in the open.
This law appears to be violated on every call. General medical appointments, which must be given no later than three days, are postponed for weeks. And those appointments with specialists, who should not exceed 30 days, can take up to several months. An investigation by the Center for Regional Economic Studies of the Bank of the Republic, by Jhorland Ayala, is in agreement with patients who complain. Although the health system improved in coverage, this has not necessarily meant greater access to health.
Barriers, according to these researchers, start with additional payments, ignorance of patient rights, social discrimination of insurers, geographical barriers and even barriers in work (when patients do not get the permits they need in their jobs to attend the bureaucracy required by the EPS and IPS).
The other measure that has implemented the health system, is the scheduling of Internet dating, which seems to be a little less traumatic, however not everyone has access to it and amongst the elderly this can be difficult as they may not have access or knowledge of the computer.
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