Innovation Needs Right EnvironmentBy Miriam Bello | Mon, 04/20/2020 - 17:08
Q: How can Mexico integrate innovation and human-centered solutions into its healthcare system?
A: As a country, it is important to generate an integral ecosystem in which entrepreneurs are not tackling problems on their own. There needs to be support from the public and private sectors, as well as academia, to create an ecosystem that stimulates national entrepreneurship and that complements what other sectors are doing in the industry.
We have boosted entrepreneurship in the healthcare system for four years following a technological approach, mostly in Monterrey, although we have also held events in Guadalajara, Veracruz and Hermosillo. This has allowed us to identify the different realities and the particular needs of each region and ensure that there is someone willing to target and solve those problems. We have also come to realize that the number of people wanting to take action is huge but they do not understand the whole background of the problem they want to address. My first recommendation is to get involved and get informed. In this way, help can be effective and a true solution can happen as a result of a good intention.
Q: How do you help entrepreneurs with the challenges they face when trying to come up with innovative healthcare solutions?
A: We first hold an interview with technology developers to have an idea of where they are, where they have been and where they want to be. After that, we can orient them through our mentoring network to complement their ideas from different angles. All projects need to be integral, which means that besides the healthcare part, they must also consider legal aspects, regulations, safety, technological security and many other areas that we make sure to cover through our mentorships. Our interest is to help through the entire development process and to follow up on their activities.
Q: What other collaborators do you have besides startups?
A: Our main focus is on startups but we have also worked with hospitals, specifically with TecSalud, which has collaborated with us on many different activities over the past four years. We also worked with the radiology department of Hospital Universitario. Universities have the infrastructure needed for different activities to teach and train entrepreneurs to develop their ideas following an appropriate approach.
Q: How can you introduce technology and innovation in a sector that can be closed or slow to accept change?
A: We always try to help companies understand the market and the context they are targeting, whether it is in the public or private sector of a rural or urban area. The challenges and needs are different depending on the reality of the situation, which means clients need to fully understand this to be able to advance. We have projects focused on digital health or medical devices and the regulations that they face are different, new or non-existent, so we try to help companies and guide them so they can do what they want with what they have and eventually help to push things forward regarding regulations.
It is also important to mention that we need skilled people to supervise entrepreneurship in healthcare projects, whether they are targeted for the public or private sector. I see this as a way of compensating the lack of regulations for many healthcare innovations.
Q: What other partners and allies would help you have a greater impact on the sector?
A: We have just started working on alliances with technology transfer offices. We have always followed foreign protocols, but the country finally has the capacity to develop its own way of working. We have the medical staff, the technology and the infrastructure so that international companies that have never looked at Mexico as a potential target know that we are now able to create products and services that can be used or recreated internationally. To continue growing, it is important to strengthen and create more alliances with organizations or companies that are part of technology development processes to create a smooth environment for entrepreneurs.
Q: What is required to unify the private and public sectors and achieve a better healthcare system?
A: A solution for this would be the creation of specific commissions that address every subject involving the healthcare sector. For example, there could be a commission for digital health, innovation and entrepreneurship, medical devices and artificial intelligence, among others. By having experts on every subject, we could cover so many needs and at the same time advance and create a clear regulatory path for entrepreneurs.
Q: What opportunity does Monterrey have to become a medical tourism hub and how can Hacking Health participate in this?
A: Medical tourism involves many things that go beyond patient care. Patients normally are accompanied and they need to stay for recovery until they are good to travel again. All of this implies not just the health sector but the tourism sector and the economic sector. We really have not dabbled into that subject much but we are open to work with startups that do. I do think that Monterrey has the potential to become a medical tourism hub but the whole activity chain has to unify to be able to offer and promote the region.
Q: What are Hacking Health’s main achievements at its Monterrey Chapter?
A: Our activities have helped to detonate the sector. We have a community of more than 150 entrepreneurs, 30 startups already in operation, plus several others that are just beginning to establish. Our mentorship network is also valuable and our goal is to strengthen it by generating important alliances that can help us grow and achieve even more in the coming years.
Hacking Health is a worldwide movement that brings together technological innovators with healthcare experts to build realistic, human-centered solutions for healthcare problems. It is present in Monterrey, Guadalajara, Queretaro and Mexico City