Delfos: the digital solution that will predict health in Putumayo, Colombia

David C. Rhew

Medical Officer (CMO)

Discover how Delfos, a groundbreaking digital health application, is revolutionizing the paradigm of healthcare delivery in Putumayo, Colombia. Putumayo is one of the Colombian territories where accessing healthcare is particularly challenging due to the dispersed population, hindering patients' access to hospitals. This is reflected, for instance, in the fact that out of the 50,000 people at cardiovascular risk, only around 12,000 are identified and enrolled in prevention programs. However, there's still a pending task to find and address the remaining 30 percent, which accounts for 38,000 inhabitants who have not yet received interventions or maintained adherence to their treatments. This search will be made easier thanks to the digital solution Delfos, inspired by the famous oracle in Greek mythology because it aims to anticipate the future through early interventions to prevent serious and costly diseases such as cardiovascular conditions. Thus, the solution aligns with the most crucial topics discussed in Colombia's healthcare reform today, such as primary care, early identification of risks, and implementing the philosophy of 'prevention is better than cure.' This solution was born in 2020 and was incubated by the Movement Health Foundation. This year, it won a science, technology, and innovation contest, securing 4.571 billion Colombian pesos from the Ministry of Information Technology and Communications (MinTIC) to launch in Putumayo, Colombia, in collaboration with two other actors, the Cooperative University of Colombia (UCC), and the Technological Institute of Putumayo (ITP). In its 14 months of operation, the solution has identified 1,942 people with obesity, of whom only 300 are in the cardiovascular risk program. "With the hospital's lens, we only see one out of every six patients, but with Delfos, we managed to broaden the view and now identify the other five who were previously invisible to that hospital," says Jhony López, developer. And since the average overweight is around 10 pounds per person, this population group will need to lose 10 tons of weight to regain a healthy condition. The next step will be to intervene with these patients using an app that functions as a 'coach,' available 24/7 through WhatsApp, Telegram, and Instagram channels (which do not require Wi-Fi coverage). "This virtual advisor helps them maintain a personalized healthy lifestyle, and more importantly, it makes them see that good health habits are a day-to-day matter," notes López. Although Delfos now operates independently, it remains true to the mission of its incubator, the Movement Health Foundation, which works towards transforming healthcare systems through public-private partnerships that implement digital solutions to ensure greater access to quality healthcare for the population. Delfos is proving that technology is a key player in transforming healthcare. "We are giving healthcare providers the superpower of an intelligence that will enable them to be more efficient and effective," says López.