2021 Highlights, Industry Trends to Watch Out for in 2022
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2021 Highlights, Industry Trends to Watch Out for in 2022

Photo by:   Piron Guillaume, Unsplash
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Miriam Bello By Miriam Bello | Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst - Wed, 12/29/2021 - 12:10

The pandemic not only motivated an accelerated digital transformation, but it also enhanced the need for health prevention and value-based systems. As the industry moves into a new year, new trends draw attention from industry leaders.

During the pandemic, there was a relief to isolation and movement restrictions. Similarly, care providers saw an opportunity for health democratization spreading the concept of telemedicine. This solution has grown 38 times compared to before the pandemic, according to a study by McKinsey. Telemedicine’s initial spike in April 2020 was more than 32 percent and now that utilization levels have largely stabilized, its use ranges from 13 to 17 percent across all specialties. “This utilization reflects more than two-thirds of what we anticipated regarding visits that could be virtualized,” says McKinsey’s study.

Coupled with telemedicine, general digital health services also grew to improve patient care. Devices for home care, including remote patient monitoring (RPM) and Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) allowed health workers to monitor patients at a distance. Medical practitioners are even using wearables to detect COVID-19 symptoms before they manifest.

AI also holds great promise for medical providers, explains TasksUs. AI in healthcare is now being used in robotic surgical systems, augmented and virtual reality, virtual nurse assistants and even disease detection. With such growth, AI in healthcare is expected to reach a CAGR of 41.8 percent from 2021 to 2028, foresees Compunnel Digital.

Digital health and its services are being used from end to end, supporting patients and doctors alike. From supply chain to financial services, tech is taking over health to make care provision easier.


Health Prevention and Primary Healthcare

“Preventive healthcare is something we are learning as a society. During the pandemic, the world started to become aware of the importance of prevention. A true culture of prevention where everyone lives healthier lives is yet to come. Health is an accumulation of decisions in our lives,” says Juan Zamora, Director, Laboratorio Médico Polanco.  

Alongside prevention, and due to its nobilities, primary healthcare (PHC) has been one of the most praised approaches to healthcare after the COVID-19 pandemic to create stronger health systems and be closer to universal health coverage.

PHC, which covers prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care, is the base of a health system’s structural transformation, according to the World Bank. To be effective, PHC should engage and empower individuals, families and communities for enhanced self-care and self-reliance in health, adds WHO. While the private sector continues to innovate and strengthen PHC, the Ministry of health has also defined a model of “Comprehensive Primary Healthcare” on its Sectorial Health Program 2019 – 2024.


Mental Health

“One of the positive aspects of the pandemic is that there is no return to the stigma people had about mental health. Psychiatrists have become more important than ever after the lockdowns and other measures that COVID-19 brought,” says Edilberto Peña de León, Director General, CISNE México. About 70 percent of the global population changed their sleeping patterns during the pandemic and depressive disorders increased by 20 percent, he added.

Mental health problems are among the 10 leading causes of disability in both developed and developing countries. In particular, depression is ranked third in the global burden of disease and is projected to rank first in 2030. Alcohol abuse, depression, anxiety and dementia make up for 20 percent of lost productive days. Globally, only an estimated 10 percent of people who need attention or treatment for mental health problems receive it, according to PAHO.


International Public and Private Cooperation

To contain the COVID-19 pandemic, Mexico has strengthened international alliances to secure the necessary vaccines, medicines and medical equipment to care for its population. The country’s multilateral agreements have helped promote universal access to vaccines, explains Martha Delgado, Deputy Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Additionally, local collaborations between the public and private sectors created as a response to the COVID-19 crisis were historic for the country. They allowed institutions to combine their capacity and care for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients during this challenging time. Given their success, both sides remain open to growing this collaboration. Public-private collaboration in Mexico had been limited to hospital infrastructure and equipment procurement. “We can go beyond these services and offer comprehensive care with our combined capacity. While the new collaboration model requires refinement, it demonstrates how both sectors can quickly adapt and respond to the needs of the population, providing high-quality, safe and continuous medical attention,” said Javier Potes, Director General, Consorcio Mexicano de Hospitales (CMH).


Pharmaceutical Innovation

2020 evidenced the great ROI innovation generated after Big Pharma companies delivered a COVID-19 vaccine in record time. In 2021, innovation continued, delivering more vaccines and treatments against COVID-19 but also significant advances for HIV, Alzheimer’s, hepatitis C and progressive multiple sclerosis.

Vaccination rollout was proven to be highly cost effective, as doses for immunization only cost around 1/400th of the cost of conventional treatments for infectious diseases, according to IQVIA. They also prevent the loss of millions of children’s lives every year. Moreover, the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is key to recover the economic activity of the region.

“The pharmaceutical industry can increase clinical research in the region and improve access to innovative medicines by supporting investment in R&D, as well as implementing innovative negotiation models,” says a study by IQVIA.


What Is Next for 2022?

To cope with an increasingly digitized industry, training and education of health professionals in novel technologies will be key. “Healthcare organizations need to make sure their teams are ready to not only embrace change, but to drive it,” says the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). Educators will contribute to a skilled workforce to keep up with the times and contribute future industry leaders.

Home care services will remain a trend in 2022. This will not only strengthen the use of disease management and patient follow-up, but it will also spur innovation to meet this new need. Logistic actors will also have to adapt their services to this incoming shift, but these are services that offer a relief to overwhelmed health systems and hospitals.

Lastly, in Mexico, health regulation remains a work in progress. “The first step toward regulation is to understand and measure the kind of interactions that are taking place in digital health by looking at the way in which physicians use digital technologies in their practices,” explains Christian López-Silva, Partner, Head of Healthcare and Life Sciences, Baker McKenzie. Responsive regulations are still lacking in Mexico. However, this can change by uniting tech providers and users to build a proposal that will benefit the environment.

Photo by:   Piron Guillaume, Unsplash

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