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Digitalization of Healthcare Is an Urgent Necessity

By Jesús Hernández - Healthtech Mexico Association


Jesús Hernández By Jesús Hernández | President - Fri, 03/17/2023 - 13:00

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The digitalization of healthcare has become a relevant topic in today's world, especially in Mexico, where the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed deficiencies in the country's healthcare system. HealthTech Mexico is an organization that supports companies in the healthcare technology sector. In this article, we will discuss the importance of regulation and promotion of technologies for the transformation and digitalization of the healthcare sector in Mexico.

The digitalization of the healthcare sector is not an option but an urgent need. Healthcare systems around the world have been overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study Transformation in the Healthcare Sector in Latin America: Patient Digitalization, Change in Healthcare Services and the Opening of the Ecosystem, prepared by the consulting firm NTT Data and MIT Technology Review, revealed that half of the patients of companies that provide healthcare services use some form of digital media to receive care, and the number will grow to 80% in the next few years. 

Mexico is not the exception. Healthcare systems in our country have been forced to adapt to the crisis, and many have opted to implement technologies to improve patient care and reduce the risk of infections. These technologies include telemedicine, remote monitoring, and artificial intelligence.

Telemedicine, for example, has been a valuable resource for Mexico's healthcare sector during the pandemic. It allows doctors and patients to communicate remotely, reducing the risk of contagion and making healthcare more accessible for people living in rural or remote areas. 

Data from Radar 2023, developed by the HealthTech Mexico Association and launched in 2022, indicates that telecare and telemedicine will increase by approximately 53% compared to 2021, when remote assistance had already been consolidated among healthcare services.

Additionally, remote patient monitoring has also been an important tool in caring for COVID-19 patients. Monitoring devices allow doctors to supervise patients remotely, reducing the risk of exposure to the virus.

In this area, digital prescriptions play an important role, since online care is useless if the patient ultimately requires a paper prescription in order to be able to acquire his or her medications at a pharmacy. 

Data from Radar 2023 indicate that the digital medical prescription saw an approximate increase of 300% compared to 2021, when this technology was just the aspiration of many doctors and some applications that were beginning to grow in the midst of lockdowns and teleconsultations. 

On the other hand, artificial intelligence (AI) also has the potential to transform the healthcare sector in Mexico. Since before the pandemic and confinement, there has been interest among clinicians and researchers in the use of algorithms to treat disease. In 2019, the application of AI was already being considered to expand the inclusion of social healthcare, especially to address chronic diseases, such as diabetes or hypertension. 

After confinements and increased digitization of healthcare services, AI is being leveraged to automate tasks and to help with planning, diagnosis and prognosis of patients, making healthcare more efficient. Also, it can be used to analyze large amounts of medical data, allowing doctors to identify patterns and trends that may have gone unnoticed otherwise, and can be used to develop predictive models that can help doctors identify patients who are at higher risk of developing certain diseases or medical conditions.

However, for these technologies to be effective, clear policies and regulations are needed to guide their use. Currently, there is a lack of clarity in the regulation of healthcare technologies in Mexico, which can delay their implementation and limit their impact. 

Although the pandemic accelerated digitalization, the proposal to reform Mexico's health legislation for digital transformation was not made until 2021, in the midst of the pandemic and with a crisis in the health system, collapsed by the waves of COVID-19 infection and the urgent need to address other chronic diseases. It was not until 2022 that progress was made on a proposal, which to date has not been approved. 

HealthTech Mexico believes that clear and specific regulations must be established for the implementation of these technologies to ensure that they are safe, effective, and ethical.

Policies and regulations must also address issues related to privacy and data protection. The collection and use of medical data can be a concern for patients, and it is important that clear regulations are established to protect patients' privacy and ensure that their data is used ethically and responsibly.

Additionally, it is important to foster innovation in the healthcare technology sector. Innovation is key to driving the development of new technologies and solutions that can improve healthcare and patients' quality of life. HealthTech Mexico believes that the government should support innovation in the healthcare technology sector through incentives and funding for emerging companies and startups in the healthcare sector.

It is also important to foster collaboration between healthcare technology companies and the public healthcare sector in Mexico. Collaboration can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare by combining the expertise and resources of both parties. HealthTech Mexico advocates for an approach between the government and healthcare technology companies to work together in the development and implementation of digital healthcare solutions.

HealthTech Mexico strongly supports the regulation and promotion of technologies for the transformation and digitalization of the healthcare sector in Mexico. The digitalization of the healthcare sector is an urgent necessity, and the implementation of technologies like  telemedicine, remote monitoring, and artificial intelligence can significantly improve healthcare in Mexico.

Together, we can work to improve healthcare and patients' quality of life in Mexico

Photo by:   Jesús Hernández

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