Pamela Serna
Director of Health Area
Entropy Labs

Looking for Risk-Takers to Disrupt Healthcare

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 09:58

While many praise and admire market disruptors, others fear change and its implications. In Mexico’s healthcare sector, the latter view is more prominent, says Pamela Serna, Director of Health Area at Entropy Labs. “Based on my experience in the public and private sectors, I believe that users tend to fear innovation and prefer to keep using known practices and equipment. For that reason, we need to work closely with Mexican companies to fully understand their needs and how to incorporate technology into their practices. It is necessary to coach our clients about the benefits that new technologies can offer them.”

Created in 2016, Entropy Labs is a consultancy for different sectors, including healthcare. Entropy Labs brings together specialists in many areas, including economics, medicine and data science. “Our goal is to make a difference in healthcare research,” says Serna. As an example, Entropy Labs looks for projects and companies that can be improved through the use of Internet of Things (IoT), which allows the constant monitoring of equipment to facilitate the work of operators. In healthcare, this technology can help operators perform predictive analysis of equipment to take preventive measures before failure becomes imminent.

While IoT principles are widespread in many sectors, such as energy, aerospace or automotive, healthcare has fallen behind in the incorporation of these practices. To quickly fill the gap, companies such as Entropy Labs can take advantage of existing processes and techniques. “We are learning from other industries regarding the application of IoT principles. Some of our collaborators have worked in automation projects for other sectors, for example.”

Entropy Labs first project was the optimization of a selfgenerating oxygen plant at a hospital in Culiacan, Sinaloa. Plants like this allow hospitals to concentrate and filter atmospheric air to obtain oxygen that can be used during surgery, in mechanical respirators and in many other areas to replace the use of oxygen tanks. “This technology may seem revolutionary in Mexico, but other countries have been using it for over 20 years. Our goal is to break the existing paradigms and the bureaucratic processes that impede the penetration of this technology.”

Clients are often unaware of the existence of this technology and are often reluctant to incorporate it, says Serna. “To carry out this project, it was necessary to find a real risktaker, which is rare in the health sector. However, now that it is installed, doctors understand that it does not hinder their work. One of our responsibilities is to convince all interested parties of the potential benefits of this technology.” In this particular case, Diphsa brought to Mexico and installed the equipment. While the installation work represented an important initial investment, Serna says that the company financed it for three years and now only pays maintenance costs, resulting in almost 80 percent yearly savings in oxygen compared with the use of tanks.

Entropy Labs’ goal with this project was the automatization of all processes through the use of IoT principles. “Before our involvement, operators collected all data in notebooks. We installed software that automatically measured and compiled the plant’s operational data and the quality of the oxygen produced to ensure that the gas complied with European regulations.” Entropy Labs expects to finish this project by the end of 2018. “Once the platform is finished we can use it as a model and replicate it at other hospitals to digitize different hospital areas like imaging departments. We are looking for interested hospitals that have an innovation area that can manage the incorporation of these systems.”

Entropy Labs will continue branching into different healthcare areas through the development of technology that capitalizes on Mexican creativity. “One of our goals is to develop new economic models for healthcare, such as community healthcare, self-management of healthcare, and different business models that address gaps in care. Technology will be essential for the future of healthcare but it is not our savior. We need to change the mindset of the general population to develop strategies for providing and managing healthcare through prevention.”