Intensive Care: a news app to investigate the private health sector in Peru

Intensive Care: a news app to investigate the private health sector in Peru

Organisation: Ojo Publico (Peru)

Publication Date: 04/10/2016

Size of team/newsroom:small


“Intensive Care” (Cuidados Intensivos, in Spanish) is a news application created by OjoPúblico to investigate the private health sector in Peru. At first journalistic level, the tool reveals the penetration of the large financial groups in the country in the business of clinics and medical centres, which has expended in the last year, with not much state regulation. But its value to the patient-reader-citizen is the accessibility to the first record of clinics and doctors that have administrative penalties and criminal prosecutions for medical malpractice and client malpractice. This application is the result of building a series of databases to understand the dimensions of the sector. In a first step, the team made 52 information requests through the Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information. In addition, files and massive data was reviewed and downloaded from the websites of 44 clinics in all the country. This data enabled a search platform showing 61,372 registered doctors, 9,920 health facilities and 21 fund management companies (including Health Care Providers, insurers and clinics that offer their own health care programs). Thus, the tool allows any user to investigate if they’ve chosen to take care of their health –or even their life- is authorized to provide services, what is their specialty, their effectiveness level, and whether it has received administrative penalties or lawsuits for malpractice. This journalistic app also includes revealing information of public interest about the financial groups that dominate the private health business, and how their recent corporate policies ultimately influence the services they provide to more than two million people in Peru. Cuidados Intensivos includes investigations, interviews, videos and interactive infographics. The Data Analysis was input for the main stories.

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

It is innovative because the mix of journalism and technology applied in this project has generated knowledge for addressing problems that Public Administration can’t resolve in a context of economic constraints, and offers an independent tool to monitor a critical sector, with strong component of citizen service. It’s a journalistic solution to a public issue. In a country with under-resourced policies for data analysis and a poor tradition on the openness of information, Cuidados Intensivos shows fact sheets of 61,372 registered doctors, 9,920 health facilities and 21 insurance companies and other service providers. It was an unprecedented effort of data collecting and journalistic investigation along five months. This data was analyzed to show not just the symptoms of inequality than benefit the corporations to the detriment of the rights of the patients, but also to expose the system itself and the detrimental factor that we need to understand to take better decisions.

Technologies used for this project:

The team to research the private health system in Peru and build the journalistic application “Intensive Care” included five journalists and a developer. The team of reporters worked with the data in Excel and used the program Open Refine to clean the data and cross the information from the various data bases. The programming work was done with Python language, chosen for its efficiency and performance. The structure was made within Django framework, which has a powerful content management system, besides being a modular system that allows the application to be scalable. For the database management system, PostgreSQL was chosen for its ability to store large amounts of data. And the system search was conducted in Elasticsearch, which has a powerful engine.


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