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Analysis

Healthcare Trends to Look for in 2021

By Miriam Bello | Tue, 02/09/2021 - 14:14

Technology has taken center stage following the COVID-19 pandemic as developments like telemedicine became crucial to ensure sustained care. However, there are other trends taking over the healthcare industry, many of them part of international movements while others respond to more domestic needs.

Here is a list of trends to expect in 2021:

Global Trends

AI to Interconnect Health Systems

Mario Muniz, Regional General Manager for North Latin America at IQVIA, explained during an interview with MBN that functional AI and machine learning can help to create electronic prescription systems to predict the behavior of many diseases, a pandemic, monitor the use of antibiotics in real time, among many other things.

Better Healthcare and Well-Being for Healthcare Workers

“All health workers are committed to keeping patients safe but it is important to cooperate with them too,” said President of Médica Sur Misael Uribe when referring to the efforts of medical professionals during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Associations like AMIIF have found ways to approach and care for medical workers by offering, for instance, free mental health consultations.

Adoption of Value-Based Healthcare

During an interview with MBN, Diego Guarin, Regional Market Access Lead for Latin America at Merck MSD, explained that the purpose of the Value-Based Healthcare model, which is based on the patient and the value that the system can provide them, seeks to improve the health of the general population. “It is not only about treating symptoms and signs of disease but also about fulfilling patients' expectations and improving other variables, such as people's quality of life.”

Smart, Digitalized Hospitals

MBN asked Juan Manuel Cáceres, CEO of Aidicare, about the main advantages of digitalization and he explained that smart hospitals provide an administrative advantage. Digitalized processes also allow a standardization of information to allow the clear and smooth tracing of the patient’s status. Insurers can also benefit from a smart hospital trough a real-time follow-up. This saves time and costs for both the hospital and the insurer. Medically, the staff is able to monitor the real-time status of the patient. The correct follow-up and treatment help to prevent further physiological adversities following medical interventions.

Homecare and Decentralization of Clinical Attention

Héctor Valle, Executive President of FunSalud, introduced the term “hospital at home” during an interview with MBN. Valle explained that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that this is crucial. “What would have happened during the height of the pandemic if people had been treated at home on time? During these months, we have seen the birth of companies focused on this model, even helping patients by bringing oxygenation equipment to their homes. I believe that entrepreneurs should focus on these business models, which are disruptive but at the same time enable access to health.”

Telemedicine

Telemedicine has helped to expand access to care at a time when patients could not visit their doctor on a regular basis. This model has proven to offer great benefits, Ricardo Moguel, Country Manager for Mexico, Colombia and Argentina of Doctoralia, emphasized during Mexico Health Summit 2020/21. Moguel explained that telemedicine has reduced transportation times, lowered costs compared to face-to-face appointments and boosted interactivity and speed with which doctors can store images and video and transfer them in real-time to other doctors. "This does not put patients at risk as they do not have to leave their homes. It also puts top specialists at their service, no matter where they are.”

Personalized Care Based on the Patient’s Context

During an MBN interview, Carlos López Patán, Director General of Medix, stressed that effective treatment requires time and knowledge of the patient, which means it will not work if it is not personalized. “You need to take an integral approach that changes the patient’s lifestyle in an attainable way and through incentives.”

Data Driven Solutions

During Mexico Health Summit 2020/21, Muniz explained that data can generate adequate solutions and derive in costs savings. “Mexico is a fertile soil for technology innovation, but cultural changes will allow it or prevent it.”

“Radiomics”

Radiomics is a new precision imagining analytics technology. According to Hit Consultant, “it will enable drug developers to gain deeper insights from medical images than before, driving accelerated therapy development, greater personalization of treatment and the discovery of new biomarkers that will enhance clinical decision-making and treatment.”

Cybersecurity: Privacy, Ownership and Ethics

“One of the key components to avoid cyberattacks is to have a very robust administrative system that complies with enough security measures,” said Jesus Díaz Garaygordobil, CIO of Christus Muguerza, during an MBN interview. He explained that this will guarantee data security, as well as correct use of patient’s information.

National Trends

Reduced Inequality

Graciela Teruel, Director of EQUIDE-IBERO, said to MBN that there are inequities between the poor and wealthy, the indigenous and non-indigenous, men and women, disabled and nondisabled, to mention a few, that still impact health provision. “The impact is not just visible in the level of income but also the opportunities that people get regarding health and education.”

Preventive Healthcare

Teruel also said that one of the main problems in Mexico is that we have not put sufficient emphasis on preventive healthcare. “We go to the doctor when we are already sick, which is more costly.” A big challenge is to implement a system that really provides preventive healthcare at a universal level, offering frequent checkups to avoid late diagnosis.   

New Financing Options

During Mexico Health Summit 2020/21, Eduardo Lara Vice President and Head of Health Latin America at RGA, highlighted that the industry does not have to wait for a government reform to change health insurance schemes to more holistic integral options. “The industry requires an alignment of incentives between insurance companies, other financing actors and healthcare providers.” He also pointed at the low insurance cancellation rate in Mexico, which is practically zero, showing how much insurance is valued by users once they acquire it.

Price Transparency

In Mexico, lack of transparency regarding prices of medicine and medical supplies has been one of the most criticized aspects of previous government administrations, which led to the establishment of a centralized purchasing schemes through UNOPS.

Private-Public R&D Collaboration

According to a statement by Sonia Pérez, Executive Director of UDIBI-IPN during Mexico Health Summit 2020/21, lack of investment in R&D is what stops the country from moving from manufacturing to technology development. “The pandemic did serve us to determine our needs from a scientific standpoint and to realize Mexico’s 100 percent dependency on foreign technology.”

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst