Raising Awareness of Data Interconnection BenefitsBy Miriam Bello | Tue, 03/16/2021 - 11:21
Q: How is the company approaching the new panorama that COVID-19 has introduced to hospital environments?
A: Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our clients were hiring us to interconnect the platforms they were already working with. They had different systems for electronic health records (EHR), laboratory samples or management and they sought to gather all that data on a single platform. This made us focus on systems interoperability for management and clinical data, making our solution adaptable to different platforms. This is complex to achieve because we had to deal with different tech providers, sharing and reading each other’s data logically.
During this journey of interconnection among different platforms, we decided to make Mexico interoperable and to then scale our solutions. In the US, just five companies were dedicated to interconnecting these systems, which indicated that the market was still very fertile. Our Health Data Suite solution is already in the market, supporting insurers, hospitals and other medtech providers. Some clients have 10-year-old databases that are messy, while others have more organized systems, so the work to interconnect their data varies. Our COVID-19 platform launched last year was also a big determinant for us to create Health Data Suite because it is when we saw to what extent hospitals or private doctors’ offices were struggling with digitalization.
While this solution was created by demand, we still face resistance from many health professionals to adopt it. When approaching insurers, younger companies or startups, we face more openness but struggle because of the investment required, so we are still analyzing the market to determine the best approach. We created a strategy that reflected the benefit that interconnectivity offers to patients based on the decentralization of data, which basically allows patients to own their own data. For instance, when a patient changes from one insurer or hospital to another, they take their data records with them.
Q: Homecare is among the 2021 industry trends. How do you see this trend working out for Mexico?
A: I do see homecare being the pathway for the industry. However, not all ailments can be treated at home. As a doctor myself, I received hundreds of messages for medical advice during the pandemic and this is when I recognized the complexity of homecare when you have not had a first contact with the patient, especially under COVID-19 circumstances, when the disease is clinically new. Undoubtedly, homecare is a very helpful tool and is where technology and the industry are heading but I still have my doubts. Coupled with this is regulation, which is still lacking a proper framework that allows safe and dependable medical online consultations. Moreover, it is wrong to think that technology can replace doctors and while I have heard comments to that end, I do not think this is possible.
Q: How can the MedTech entrepreneurial environment continue growing amid the current circumstances?
A: The initial perception was that COVID-19 could serve as a booster for investment in innovation. However, this is not the case for Mexico. We have consolidated platforms in the medtech sector but we continue to look for investment outside the country because we are unable to find it here. In Mexico and all of Latin America, entrepreneurship faces a challenging scenario when trying to scale products and this is discouraging. Investors do not want to learn about health projects, which makes it almost impossible for entrepreneurs to raise capital.
In the US, I have seen startups dedicated to a small market niche and they are trusted by their investors, which benefits their growth. In Mexico, education on the subject is lacking. Hospitals usually look for large providers that offer one digital system for the entire facility. But, what happens when they need to replace an area of the solution or integrate an independent platform for one area? This becomes impossible. What would happen if their system drastically becomes more expensive and the hospital can no longer afford it? To move to another server would be unthinkable, which ties the hospital to a single large provider. The hospital is basically tied to a digital monopoly. If health entrepreneurs want to grow in Mexico, looking for foreign investment is the smartest way to go.
Osiris Healthtech Systems is a software development company focused on the health sector. It developed OMI, a computerized medical organizer for health professionals. This tool provides electronic medical records, consultations, agenda and digital prescriptions.