Arturo de la Rosa
General Manager Mexico
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Reconnecting Patients With Healthcare

By Arturo de la Rosa | Mon, 12/20/2021 - 09:43

After more than 20 months characterized by uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 virus, which is the cause of one of the leading health contingencies in history, the challenges are increasing. The crisis that we are experiencing has brought about a transformation in social interaction, the concept of health, and the digital world. At the same time, it has complicated access to healthcare and has also demonstrated the relevance of innovation in solving a contingency like this. Today more than ever, scientific innovation and collaboration are the answers to building the path to global recovery.

Health systems worldwide have been impacted in their structure and operation, where even the most robust have been breached after this unprecedented 21st century event. The proof is that close to 90 percent of countries have suffered interruptions in their essential health services since the start of the pandemic.[1]

To understand the magnitude of the problem with regard to health services and healthcare needs, we must consider the situation from at least two perspectives: the first is linked to the response and priorities implied by the pandemic, including the care of COVID-19 cases, hospital capacity, detection, implementation of actions to prevent its spread and the deployment of access to vaccination. The second relates to the impact of the pandemic on access to innovation and healthcare for people, highlighting the needs currently faced by patients diagnosed with chronic, non-communicable, and degenerative diseases, since, at a global level, they are disconnected from health systems. This is a worrying fact because the characteristics of the illnesses they face require continuous medical attention and treatment and by interrupting medical follow-up, it is possible that other comorbidities and complications may be triggered that could significantly affect their quality of life.

In Mexico, for example, in 2020, consultations in seven areas[2] fell to 48.6 percent, which meant 42.2 million less than in 2019, and the downward trend continued in 2021[3]. Likewise, the health crisis generated a displacement effect in healthcare, which has had a direct impact on the family economy, since, also based on 2020 figures, out-of-pocket spending on health per person increased by an average of 40 percent. This spending is mainly destined to the purchase of medicines.[4]

Undoubtedly, this health contingency represents a turning point that gives us the opportunity to consider new ways for improving access to health through collaboration and scientific innovation.

Health services have been impacted by the pandemic; however, it is worth mentioning that, previously, in Mexico, an improvement could be observed in diagnosis and care for chronic diseases that are difficult to treat. Thanks to joint interventions between the public and private sectors, progress was being made in improving access and raising the standards of care for these conditions, so we must continue collaborating to obtain a healthcare model that resolves unmet patient needs and allows access to the best health services for the population.

Additionally, the public and private sectors must see the opportunity from this pandemic to consider new perspectives and approaches in terms of innovation and access to health. Above all, we should seek the best mechanism to reconnect patients to healthcare by implementing strategies to facilitate the early diagnosis, reference and access to treatments, making relevant the importance of maintaining the care of patients with chronic diseases in the health system, thus avoiding the consequences that postponing their care implies.

The future of patient health is in our hands, so we need to become facilitators who build bridges of collaboration between sectors that allow us to reconnect patients with the medical care they need.

 

[1] CGD. 2020. “Balancing the Covid19 Response with Wider Health Needs: Key Decision-Making Considerations for Low-and Middle-Income Countries.” https://www.cgdev.org/publication/balancing-covid-19-response-wider-health-needs-key-decision-making-considerations-low.CIEP. 2018. “Afiliación, uso y gasto en salud: ENIGH 2016.”

[2] Includes first-time and subsequent visits for mental health, family planning, chronic, oral health, communicable, healthy, and other diseases

[3] Centro de Investigación Económica y Presupuestaria, A. C.” Interrupción de los servicios de salud por Covid-19: Implicaciones en el gasto de bolsillo”. Interrupción de los servicios de salud por Covid-19: Implicaciones en el gasto de bolsillo – CIEP

[4] Centro de Investigación Económica y Presupuestaria, A. C. “Interrupción de los servicios de salud por Covid-19: Implicaciones en el gasto de bolsillo”. Interrupción de los servicios de salud por Covid-19: Implicaciones en el gasto de bolsillo – CIEP

Photo by:   Arturo de la Rosa

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