Roberto Bonilla
Director General
Hospital San Ángel Inn
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View from the Top

Improving Private Access to Health Through Technology

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 11:36

Q: What joint strategies should the private and public sectors carry out to improve universal access to health in Mexico?

A: One of the main problems we have is that there is a legal differentiation among the different sizes and types of institutions that provide health, such as hospitals, clinics and sanatoriums. Mexico has a large number of registered hospitals, but only about 50 of every 3,000 have a capacity of more than 100 beds, which creates a market dichotomy regarding people’s access. The private sector should concentrate its efforts on improving access by increasing insurance policies as well as influencing prevention. To make this happen, insurance companies and hospitals must change their business model to lower insurance premiums and increase at a faster rate the possibility of people having access to private healthcare. There must be an improvement in the synchrony of the three entities that deal with the patient, which are the hospital, the doctor and the payer of the services.

Q: How does Hospital San Ángel Inn face situations like the aging of the Mexican population?

A: The culture of prevention will be a determining factor in Latin America. In 25 years, the region will have the most adults in the world, which in turn will drive the need to implement services that are not yet consolidated in the industry. Private hospitals are creating a prevention culture in Mexico, a key to containing the growing demand for specialized services. It is necessary that other players, such as insurance companies and health institutions, participate in this change of mentality. In the case of hospitals, the key factor is to reform their commercial model and improve people’s access to private medical care, so from the beginning there is a full notion of self-care and prevention for the patient.

Q: What have been the main advances regarding the implementation of Big Data in Hospital San Ángel Inn’s activities, both medical and administrative?

A: Hospital San Ángel Inn has a universal electronic file for medical information that operates within our hospital network. Patient information is protected and available so that both the doctor and the patient can request it if needed. We use the electronic health registration system HL7, which allows 

us to create the profile of our patient and to organize it in different clinical areas. If all hospitals, both public and private, replicated this same model we could talk about a mechanism that addressed health from a macro perspective. The General Health Law and the Data Protection Law will face a challenge when approving the regulations for this future project but it is also necessary to bring this option to the population.

Technology can become a catalyst to improve Mexico’s healthcare system. Mexico should have a technological system that allows the tracking of clinical records, similar to the Tax Administration Service. Technology is not the problem, distribution is. The technology has not reached all sectors equally. Creating a universal electronic file could exponentially change universal access to healthcare.

The application of technology and the approval of a Health Reform would improve the provision of medical services in Mexico. Implementing electronic files at all institutions would be a good start.

Q: What makes Hospital San Ángel Inn as attractive as its bigger competitors and what are your growth expectations?

A: We recently opened a short-stay clinic with the goal of improving the cost-efficiency of our services. We believe that the right distribution of cases between our hospitals and this clinic will allow us to provide the right services to the people who need them. This new clinic is projected to reduce the cost of surgical interventions by 40 to 50 percent, since the cost of a short stay clinic is much lower than that of a hospital. This clinic model operates two shifts per day, closes at night and does not open on Mondays, so the operating cost is considerably reduced. It is also innovative in the facilities and amenities offered to patients compared to other clinics in Mexico City.