Health Sector Needs More Flexibility to Stimulate CollaborationBy Jan Hogewoning | Mon, 04/20/2020 - 17:09
Q: Vitacor is a staple in your research pipeline. How is it advancing?
A: Vitacor has been with us as a research project for 12 years and with the help of CONACYT we are working hard to make it a reality. It has been described as the most important biomedical project in Latin America. It is what we call a ventricular support device. It works as a mechanical pump that can replace the heart when it no longer works or does not function optimally. It can be implanted temporarily to give the patient’s heart a rest or allow it to recover. It can also be used to replace the heart fully, keeping a patient alive until a donor heart is found. We believe it is now two to three years away from commercialization. After having undergone tests on different animals, it is now in the trial phase with patients. In the meantime, we are working toward approval from COFEPRIS. Due to its innovative technology, the device saves up to 60 to 70 percent in costs compared to existing German and American products, which will prove beneficial for many. The niche for this product is very small but it will make Vitalmex a leader in an area where we already play a significant role.
Q: In what areas of healthcare are you focusing on?
A: For more than 40 years, Vitalmex has been offering products and services for heart and hemodynamical procedures and treatments, as well as imageology. Our technology and procedures are aimed at being minimally invasive. What makes us unique is that we provide articulated services, including not only equipment but also expertise, training and even personnel. We allow our clients to lease everything from us. This means that a hospital can make a specialized treatment available for an agreed period of time without having to invest in a lot of expensive equipment and new personnel.
We are expanding to surgeries of high complexity, like neurosurgery and hemodynamic surgery. One of the advantages for us is that many surgeries require similar equipment, so we can offer the same technology for different uses. The government, as well as the private sector, invests a lot of money in equipment that ends up unused. By providing services like ours, we create a far more effective alternative. Our model makes it possible for more hospitals to get specialized technology, giving more people the opportunity to have surgery.
Q: How can the industry increase coverage of specialized surgeries?
A: There is a deficit in a variety of specialized areas, such as neurology and cardiology. The government should distribute funds in a more responsible manner to make these specializations more attractive to pursue. Salaries need to go up and more centers with the capacity to perform heart surgery are needed, as well as corresponding schools to train specialists. At the same time, we need to eliminate centralism. Mexico City offers the best surgical opportunities because of its many hospitals and its large population. However, other areas of the country are left out. If the infrastructure is simply not there, a specialized surgeon cannot work in the hospital. We work with the government by offering our articulated service model for new projects to adapt to the particular situation of a hospital or clinic, providing a working method for the resources available.
Generally, I also believe private infrastructure should be used for public healthcare ends. What we need is more flexibility to allow greater sharing of infrastructure. This also means the government should be willing to be more flexible.
We also need to continue investing in innovation to come up with solutions to increase coverage. Vitalmex and the National Institute of Cardiology have agreed to develop a center for cardiovascular research. The government should not cancel the budget for creativity and innovation. Entrepreneurship that leads to creative solutions lacks support. CONACYT’s funding was cut and financing for new projects is practically dead. The government needs to play an active role in supporting startups, even when they already have a product ready to go. Medical innovation also goes beyond medicine and devices, it extends to services and logistics. Data is an increasingly important asset that needs to be used. The sector needs to increase its use of data to arrive at intelligent solutions for health problems.
Vitalmex provides packages of medical care, allowing hospitals to lease not only equipment but also training, personnel and expertise. In addition, the company develops medical equipment and distributes third-party products