El Salvador wins the ISSA Special Distinction for Innovation

El Salvador wins the ISSA Special Distinction for Innovation

The first ever Special Distinction for Innovation in the Good Practice Award for the Americas competition was awarded to the Salvadoran Social Security Institute (Instituto Salvadoreño del Seguro Social – ISSS) for the good practice “Dr ISSS online: A new telemedicine care model”.

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As part of the International Social Security Association’s (ISSA) strengthened focus on innovation in social security administration, a new Special Distinction for Innovation has been integrated in the regional Good Practice Award competitions in the 2023–2025 triennium. At the Regional Social Security Forum for the Americas, which takes place in San José, Costa Rica, 4–6 September 2023, ISSS of El Salvador has been awarded this Special Distinction in competition with 162 good practices from 33 organizations in 17 countries across the Americas.

A new telemedicine care model was implemented as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and it continued providing virtual medical care services afterwards. Known as Dr. ISSS en línea (Dr ISSS online), this service provides direct medical care through online video and phone consultations, and also handles medication prescriptions and electronically issues incapacity certificates within the ISSS network.

“Dr ISSS in El Salvador is an innovative telemedicine project, which helped the population and the country through the pandemic, and it became a permanent service transforming the ISSS’s health care service delivery and strengthening its institutional capacity.”, said Marcelo Abi-Ramia Caetano, ISSA Secretary General.

The objective was to guarantee continuous, accessible, timely and high-quality virtual medical care to the population, and this was achieved. In fact, Dr ISSS online ensured national coverage; 98 per cent of patients achieved contact within 30 seconds and 100 per cent of consultations were successful. This reduced demand for patients who were not classified as needing urgent or emergency care in care centres, and thus reduced institutional costs.

Relevance of the ISSA Guidelines

In the implementation of this project, ISSS made use of the ISSA Guidelines on Administrative Solutions for Extending Coverage, as well as approaches in the ISSA Guidelines on Continuity and Resilience of Social Security Services and Systems, which were finalized in 2022.