Bolivarian University Clinic: Value-Added Comprehensive Health Care

Wilmar Alonso Alcaraz OtalvaroExclusive interview with Wilmar Alonso Alcaraz Otalvaro, chief medical care officer of the Bolivarian University Clinic [Clínica Universitaria Bolivariana], who spoke to us about the institution’s challenges and its plans for the future.


Your hospital has consistently been ranked as one of the best equipped in the country. What are some of the main types of medical equipment your hospital needs to buy or replace on a regular basis?


The Bolivarian University Clinic provides health services at all care levels, with particular emphasis on medium and high-complexity care in most of the specialties for the entire population of Medellín, Antioquia, and the country, with a special focus on maternal and pediatric care. It provides outpatient and inpatient services in the various clinical and surgical specialties, including most notably the Adult Intensive Care Unit (ICU), the Maternal and Pediatric Unit, and all the diagnostic support services. We have a plan for renewing our biomedical technology, aimed at maintaining the conditions of safety and the supply of high-complexity care for both mother and child. So the equipment that we need to upgrade the most relates to critical neonatal care (incubators, ventilators, warming blankets, radiant-heat cribs), but also equipment related to diagnostic imaging, from basic systems like conventional portable X-ray machines, to additional technology such as C-arm image intensifiers.

Is there any medical device in particular with special technology or innovations that the hospital has recently bought or plans to buy?

It upgraded the Phillips-made CT scanner, which is a 128-slice unit that expands our capacity to perform a higher volume of CT scans. There are plans to upgrade radiant-heat cribs and incubators, and to purchase a fixed X-ray unit and an MRI scanner. Additionally, in partnership with suppliers, it plans to purchase a pediatric (neonatal) dialysis machine.

What are the main factors that lead a renowned institution such as the Bolivarian University Clinic to buy new equipment?

The main reason is to provide our patients safe services with comprehensive care. Also, to provide timely services and expand the portfolio of services in accordance with the health needs of the population we serve.

What kinds of health challenges is the Bolivarian University Clinic facing right now?

The main challenge is the demographic transition and morbidity profile of the patients. Other challenges include having assertive information strategies in health care given the demand from more informed patients seeking the best health alternatives for their treatment; the efficient use of resources and technologies; working in integrated health care networks in a coordinated way; achieving the interoperability of biomedical technologies with information systems so that administrative and clinical staff have the information to make decisions; and making the clinic socially, environmentally, and financially sustainable.

Does the hospital have plans for expansions, renovations, or new units?

Yes, we are planning an outpatient care unit, with basic imaging services, sample taking, and minor-procedure rooms.

What types of equipment, devices, or resources do you think Colombian hospitals will need more of and/or will become more necessary in the next few years?

All the equipment related to the treatment of chronic, neurological, urological, musculoskeletal, and neurodegenerative diseases, and also equipment related to interoperability with information systems and the use of artificial intelligence as an aid for clinical and administrative decision making.

Is there any new initiative with respect to patient care at the hospital that you could share with us?

Yes, service models and patterns of practice based on clinical conditions, and a model of care based on the management of obstetric clinical risk through telemonitoring.

What other health problems or challenges have you recently noticed now that the pandemic has generally receded?

The increased mental illness caseload and the exacerbation of chronic diseases are significant, as are the growing needs and expectations of the patient, family, and health team in the context of finite resources. Another challenge is the empowerment of the patient for self-health care and the incorporation of healthy lifestyles and well-being of the population with or without health risks. In addition, there is detection and intervention of individual health risks with the use of all the new technologies, which entails shifting from a model of general care to one of specialist care. Lastly, there are data-based health services, using the exchange of data among applications, medical records, and systems of care, enabling institutions to overcome the barriers in order to put together solutions based on clinical information.

About the Bolivarian University Clinic

Located in Colombia, the Bolivarian University Clinic is a medium and high complexity health institution with high quality accreditation and certified as a University Hospital.

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