To see a general doctor in Panama you can just walk in to the office, no appointment is necessary. You may have to wait 5 minutes to see the doctor. The cost will be about $10 in Boquete or $20 if you live in Coronado or Panama City.
For a specialist, you need an appointment but they can usually see you within 48 hours. You could call their office to get an appointment but the receptionist will usually only speak Spanish. If you don’t know Spanish, you’ll need to get a friend to make the appointment for you.
You can send a WHATSAPP message to the doctor’s cell phone to make the appointment. Most doctors publish their cell phone numbers in Panama.
During the September tour I got an eye infection the day before the tour started. It got progressively worse during the tour but there was not much I could do about it because I was busy with the tour group.
I sent a WHATSAPP message to my ophthalmologist in Panama City telling him about the problem and asked what I could do. He asked me to send him a photo of my eye which I did via WHATSAPP. Then he prescribed some eye drops to take. I picked up the drops at a pharmacy during a tour stop.
Many doctors in Panama speak fluent English.
But after 2 days of taking the medication, my eye was getting worse and I was in a lot of pain. Once again I sent a photo to my eye doctor in Panama City. He recommended that I either come to see him right away or see an ophthalmologist in David Panama. He sent two recommendations for doctors in David including their cell phone number.
During the tour I sent a message via WHATSAPP to one of the doctors asking if he could see me the next day. I explained the problem. He replied back within 5 minutes and asked me to send him a photo of my eye, which I did. He checked with his receptionist then scheduled me for 4pm the next day. I arrived at his office in Hospital Chiriqui about 3 and was seen in a few minutes. He did a thorough eye exam then prescribed different eye drops. I was in and out in less than 30 minutes. The cost was $32 which I paid out of pocket even though I have insurance.
Since then, the ophthalmologist in David has followed up with me two times via WHATSAPP to see how I was doing. And my ophthalmologist in Panama City has also followed up via WHATSAPP.
Doctors put the CARE back in to healthcare in Panama!
WHATSAPP is widely used by everyone in Panama. It’s a free app that allows you to make calls, send text, send audio messages and share photos.. all for free. You can even call or text friends and family in other countries if they have WHATSAPP downloaded too. You will need wifi to use WHATSAPP
Before coming to Panama make sure you download WHATSAPP to your phone. It will be very useful even if you don’t need to make a doctor appointment. Learn more here https://www.whatsapp.com/features/