The pandemic has taught us many lessons. Among the most prominent are new ways of working, and new ways of learning, communicating and doing business. Health has also been marked by winds of change with the appearance of telemedicine and a new form of primary care and follow-up for patients needing long-term treatment for persistent or chronic diseases.
In just 18 months, telemedicine grew the equivalent of 10 years and it has been a phenomenal advance that has had a positive impact on the lives of patients and doctors. However, there are still great challenges directly related to access to technology and especially to connectivity, which allows the universality of the service to materialize.
Although it is true that the telemedicine service in Mexico is promoted not only by the government through the Ministry of Health and the National Center for Technological Excellence in Health (CENETEC), we are still taking the first steps. The key to telemedicine is in the accessibility of the data and the ability to provide a quality service no matter where the doctor and patient are geographically located. This implies having a very robust IT system and security mechanisms that safeguard the data of the patient, the doctor and the institution — clinic or hospital — allowing the necessary information to be obtained at the time of consultation and follow-up.
With regard to the management of patients' medical records, access to the data must be provided in a comprehensive manner, facilitating access to the information for both the doctor and the patient.
The use of digital prescriptions, something that in Mexico is not yet well developed and presents great opportunities, is another of the advances that have taken place at the regional level. The use of digital tools for these types of documents, with a legal nature, exponentially speeds up the links between pharmacy and doctor, offering the patient a quick solution in just minutes, especially in those cases in which the interlocutors are located in different places. Because Mexico is a territory with large extensions, a large population and limited professional resources, this tool presents an opportunity at the service level, and together with telemedicine they would provide a solution to the lack of care available in various locations.
While primary care has grown, there has been an increase in the use of short-stay beds of more than 8 percent — huge growth considering that the historical growth is 1-2 percent per year. This phenomenon is a clear lesson from COVID-19 regarding the patient-medical institution interaction. During times of great contagion, patients decided to reduce visits to the doctor, a little out of fear and also on the recommendation of health authorities, which has led them to have a different relationship with medical care and to treat those issues of extreme urgency at the moment when they must be attacked.
Today, primary care together with timely diagnosis drive the decline in the misuse of beds for elective procedures, leaving room for necessary procedures. Added to this is the increase in technology applied with surgical robots for minimally invasive surgeries, considerably reducing the recovery time of the patient and, consequently, the stay in hospitals and clinics.
The effects of the pandemic have been devastating economically, educationally, politically, and emotionally. We have had to reinvent ourselves and overcome to get ahead. Latin American countries have been the hardest hit and today, we have a lot of work ahead of us. However, we have learned great lessons that opened the way for us to implement technology in places that just a few months previous were unthinkable. Health and education were the sectors that have been transformed the most and we must take this beginning as the tip of the iceberg. Particularly in health matters, this is an issue that is being discussed in various international forums, such as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), where in September, its director, Carissa Etienne, highlighted the urgency of investing in the strengthening of health systems and the production of health technologies, emphasizing the need for the region to become self-sufficient in this area.
We are at a time of inflection that requires the active participation of all the actors involved in health, promoting the development of the region. There are new ways of doing things that are here to stay and it is necessary for businesses to organically accompany these new ways of doing things, training professionals, providing universal access to basic health services and, above all, investing in technology.
Therefore, at Global Health Intelligence, we permanently promote the development and implementation of new technologies through our communication channels, presenting reports and points of view on the technological transformation that is incipiently permeating the region and we accompany companies that invest in cutting-edge technology that connects data with decision-makers in the healthcare market throughout Latin America. Our commitment since 2014 has allowed us to establish different alliances with key stakeholders, generating valuable information for decision-making. We invite you to learn more about our work at www.globalhealthintelligence.com.