News Article

Digitalization: The Future of Patient Care

By Miriam Bello | Wed, 08/26/2020 - 14:03

Artificial intelligence, digitalization and IoT take on a big role in creating personalized care solutions that transform a patient’s lifestyle and reduce costs for healthcare systems around the world. What are the main challenges that can be overcome through the digitalization of healthcare? During the webinar Digitalization: The Future of Patient Care, organized by Mexico Business News and sponsored by Dassault Systèmes, digitalization leaders participating in the healthcare sector discussed this futuristic version of patient care.  

Roberto Aguilera, Health Sciences & Wellness Consulting Partner, EY Latam North and moderator of the panel, asked participants how have companies adopted digitalization and what are the next steps towards an optimal digital environment? “While I have not seen a fully digitalized company yet, I am sure that this will not take long to happen as companies are starting to acknowledge the importance of data and how this makes processes efficient,” said Gino Scarangella, VP Life Sciences NAM of Dassault Systemes. Gino explained that for a company to fully adopt digitalization, it needs to understand the value it will bring to its performance. “Digitalization offers technology transfer, manufacturing efficiency and knowledge sharing. It is important to take advantage of this digital thread from the beginning to transform it into care provision.” Scarangella highlighted the value of engagement that companies need to have to make digitalization a culture within a company. “The best way to change business processes is by making it a culture, beyond just applying the knowledge,” he said.

Charles Nader, CEO of Doc.com, put the future of health into perspective. “We all know where we want to go and we have seen in movies and series how everything can be digitized. We have movies like Prometheus, where the patient enters a machine that scans them and helps to determine ailments and heal them,” he said. Although digitalization has become a more widespread concept, COVID-19 has boosted its importance. “In the past, it was uncertain how long digitalization would take to permeate a company. Now, the process has been accelerated,” said Jorge Camargo, Co-Founder and Co-CEO Ecaresoft Inc.

“Technology meeting patient care should be the ideal goal for any company within the sector,” said Aguilera, who then asked the panelists about the role digitalization will play in the customization of healthcare solutions and treatments and the speed of their delivery. To answer this question, Scarangella brought to the table the Living Heart Project that Dassault Systèmes has created by simulating a living heart, which can serve for pharmaceutical and medical devices to deliver better results. “Through the Living Heart Project, we can determine what would work for the patient specifically. This reduces generic solutions with unknown effectiveness until the patient goes through the treatment,” he said.

Meanwhile, Camargo introduced what would be the “holy grail” of technology in healthcare. “The goal is to have cheaper health (because it increases access) with higher quality of services. This is where digitalization can boost the sector to put it closer to the goal.” However, Camargo explained that so far, even when having positive results, things are not chaining regarding the true purpose of technology in health. “Instead of digitalization making health more accessible, health seems to be getting more expensive. As providers, we need to take a step back and really focus on the patient’s health and increasing access to treatments and solutions,” he said.

Panelist also discussed what best practices should be followed to make digitalization a competent ally for healthcare professionals. Scarangella said this is an expensive feat but a very beneficial one for the company’s performance. “Best practices start with a plan on how to take advantage of digitalization and where it can have the greatest impact. As a provider, you want to look at risks or slower processes to able to improve them.” According to Scarangella, not all digitalization is a science project. Best practices can be found in production lines and some companies find those areas to be the most valuable for clients.

Beyond companies, Nader sees another area of opportunity for technology to truly change the sector. “To see technology as an ally, you need to think beyond the traditional mindset. There are many new solutions that can sometimes be limited because of regulations. New solutions require new regulations to be really successful and truly impact the patient,” he said.

Camargo recommended companies to keep in mind their goals when delving into digitalization. “This needs to be seen as any other decision a company can take, so there is no need to see it as a complex solution. Digitalization is intended to be a tool to improve performance and remain competitive,” he said. The resulting impact will be a new differentiator beyond sales. “Companies should start aligning their goals to the patient. This would be a key determinant for healthcare because if the company meets its goals, then the patient is cured,” said Camargo.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst