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News Article

Entrepreneurs Work to Create a Mexican Healthtech Ecosystem

By Miriam Bello | Wed, 02/16/2022 - 14:42

As the digital transformation permeates the health sector, creating a complete healthtech ecosystem has become the goal of industry providers. Healthtech has proven to be a bridge for care provision and as local companies further develop solutions, results show more precise outcomes.

In Mexico, “medtech companies share the common goal of closing the tech gap that exists in health and propel a digital advancement for the country,” said Cristina Campero, CEO, PROSPERiA. Local health developments have a unique focus and thus, unique outcomes. They are created for Mexico’s population profile and target the needs of a fragmented system that depends almost entirely on the patient’s chosen treatment and provider, according to Amiel Rosales, CEO, Nubix.

To date, entrepreneurs consider Mexico to be in the golden age to launch healthcare technology. “We are making life easier for users in terms of operations, practices, administration, costs, mobility and health. Based on competitiveness, if a tech solution is not disruptive, it does not have a good future,” said Oscar de la Garza, CEO, Medpacom.

De la Garza explains that in this digital age and transformation, many startups have consolidated business models that have proven their effectiveness and capacity for regional expansion. “But to further expand our services, the country needs to accept that the economic stability relies on healthcare, especially on health professionals, who are the ones we are targeting to support with novel tech developments.”

Innovation goes beyond ideas and imagination, “it requires a technological base and must respond to a current trend to succeed,” explains Gustavo Rodríguez, CEO, nutriADN. To date, technology adoption has been favored by the limitations caused by the pandemic, which was a watershed that made embracing technology a natural process, said Rodríguez.

Moreover, as digital health has been more open and receptive, it has promoted a culture of prevention. “Users have adopted a new social behavior based on tech for daily life activities, including through healthcare apps,” said Rodriguez.

Another pivotal part of success are healthcare professionals: “they must understand the added value of our solutions. The doctor is the first implementer, giving credibility and supporting our developments. If this fails, achieving a true impact is difficult,” said de la Garza.  

There are several ways to approach doctors, but based on Medpacom’s experience, approaching recognized institutions and schools that doctors respect and trust is an effective way to introduce these new technologies. “Even so, introducing healthtech subjects to these institutions is difficult, as there are actors who trust foreign solutions more than with Mexican ones. This is why it has been more effective for us to approach the new generations of doctors to promote our solutions,” de la Garza said.

Entrepreneurs have learned that lack of trust from healthcare providers is a barrier to succeed in this market. “Health services have been working the same way for decades, with a traditional and paternal dynamic from the physician. However, delegating responsibility to other actors has also proven to be effective,” explains Campero.

Tech will help professionals provide a higher quality of diagnosis and consultations. “By generating confidence in the solution and understanding that tech is here to cooperate and not to replace, providers will be creating a harmony that will break the challenge of interoperability,” said Rosales.

Novel solutions can create an ecosystem that supports intercommunication so these integrated platforms allow patients to be guided in their health journey, while informing them which solutions they can access, how they can access them and what benefits they will gain from them, said Campero.

In their journey to position their solutions in the market and in standard medicine practice, education for providers and patients has been essential, said Cristina Raunich, CMO, Terapify. “There is not much education pertaining to topics such as genetics, for example,” Rodriguez said, “so creating training and courses on topics that were not addressed in education or included in awareness campaigns is important to facilitate adoption of tech and prevention.”

Apart from education and evangelization, entrepreneurs have also pioneered in regulation and regulatory initiatives, as Mexico lacks clear regulations for innovation or new developments. “There is a gray area where we have to guess and try to communicate with COFEPRIS to create a regulatory pathway. PROSPERiA, for instance, has an endorsement from COFEPRIS where it acknowledges there is no regulation for us but for investors it is still a gray area,” said Campero.

Entrepreneurs also shared that investment, especially from local sources, has also been challenging. The IMF estimates that low and middle-income countries will decrease their health budgets, leading to a need for local enterprises to play a larger role by contributing to the reduction of diseases. By supporting these developments, investors are helping to reduce governmental underinvestment.

Investment in healthcare is low in comparison to areas like fintechs because “for investors [fintech] is exciting, it is booming,” said de la Garza. However, he explained that health is indispensable and investors should be looking for options to democratize health. “Tech saves costs, supports diagnosis and is essential to change the system. Investing US$1 in health saves you US$6. Investing in health is profitable and brings long-term results, which is why it takes time to make profit but it is undoubtedly profitable,” de la Garza said.

While investment in health exists, it is focused on medicines, surgeries and devices, said Rodriguez. “I invite investors to look back to our biological origins and reconsider if we need more of that innovation or if we need to invest in innovation that drives a change that avoids health events.”

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst