Roberto Aguilera
Health Sciences and Wellness Consulting Partner
EY Latam North
/
View from the Top

Digitalization: The Future of Patient Care

By Miriam Bello | Wed, 10/14/2020 - 14:08

On August 26, Mexico Business News organized the webinar Digitalization: The Future of Patient Care, sponsored by Dassault Systèmes. During the webinar, the audience sent questions for the experts participating on the discussion which Roberto Aguilera, Health Sciences & Wellness Consulting Partner, EY Latam North and moderator of the panel has responded.

 

Q: As health models improve, life expectancy grows, implying a challenge for companies and their retirement benefits. How prepared is Mexico to face this reality?

A: In Mexico, this is a reality we can see reflected in the populational pyramid, where there are more elderly people. They are in the last stage of their productive age or not participating in the working population anymore, meaning that, over time, there will be fewer people to maintain the economy. This is a financing subject for healthcare. Employment is one of the main sources for financing healthcare, a sector that has endless needs but limited resources. Mexico’s healthcare model is corrective. EY believes this is an opportunity to move to a preventive healthcare model. Investing in results rather than in a severe disease would be a far more effective use of resources and it would also mean a healthier population.

Q: Regarding the digital transformation in health, how should client selection work in the switch from paper to digital?

A: Not all companies can fully transform their process to a digital model. However, digitization can function on many different levels. From the beginning, companies must identify their goals and the benefits they want to provide to customers or patients to find which digital tools can drive the success of such goals. EY tries to encourage the passion and love for the journey, rather than only focusing on the final goal. This allows companies to engage from top to bottom with a project.

Q: How can countries like Mexico implement technology in healthcare given limited budgets and different priorities?

A: The sector must seek a results-based financing model and this could be linked to digital solutions that can generate more benefits and increased efficiency and productivity. For instance, telemedicine is a tool that can be implemented and financed based on the number of patients treated. Providers of the telemedicine platform can charge for the use of the solution. This could link both financing and KPIs with specific metrics based on true impact on the patient.

Q: What is needed to build an integrated digital healthcare system?

A: Digitalization efforts within the sector pave the way to an integral healthcare system. However, there is no unique solution for all healthcare aspects; this needs to be a joint and coordinated effort from all health actors. Sanitary regulators need to motivate this process through normativity to push for an integrated system.

Q: What are your views regarding the business possibility of selling data from patients to different entities?

A: Based on the data we have collected, figures regarding healthcare reached 1,218 exabytes just in 2018. With this amount of information, it is clear that the best way to drive innovation to improve healthcare is to avoid protectionist measures regarding data. Instead, we need to think of a complete environment for healthcare to be able to create personalized clouds that contain our health record and information to allow much better healthcare and treatment. This would open the doors to personalized healthcare, treatments and diagnosis.

At EY, we think that building a patient-data environment for healthcare systems empowers the former to control their health. Mexican law indicates that all clinical records, including electronic records, belong to the patient. In addition, data is not an asset that can be stored or sold by institutions. However, it is a tool that can be curated and analyzed to achieve better results. Personalized healthcare has the potential to reduce costs with more customized treatments and fewer duplicated diagnosis due to Mexico’s fragmented data system in the healthcare sector.

Q: How possible is it to conduct certifiable virtual workshops for people from different countries who want to learn about improvements in healthcare?

A: EY is constantly generating content and research to share and providing data-based recommendations for clients and the general public. Webinars are also a smart tool for sharing information and creating workshops through digital platforms to encourage the digitalization of the healthcare sector. As a sector, we could coordinate to create valuable content and take advantage of the investment of time and effort that is put into a webinar.

Q: How can digitalization be applied in remote rural places, taking into account poor internet access or even a lack of electricity?

A: Certain states have implemented programs to reach the broader population, such as Caravanas para la Salud (Health Caravans). ONGs and large companies have also created strategies to take healthcare to rural zones in Mexico. These are positive initiatives but collaboration would enhance them even further and create a greater impact. We could even implement shared health service centers where we could take advantage of the infrastructure and medical staff who want to contribute to supporting remote communities.

Q: What do you think of the use of robots for telemedicine in these locations?

A: Telemedicine practices have been accelerated greatly by COVID-19. However, now the concern is which of those digital tools that we implemented for COVID-19 will remain in use and be perfected to exploit their potential? Some doctors have resisted the change and continue to insist on having presential consultations, although many patients are being cautious for fear of COVID-19 contagion. This is important as many patients suffer from a chronic condition that can quickly progress and present complications.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst