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Analysis

The Role of Alliances in Boosting Access to Health Services

By Miriam Bello | Wed, 07/29/2020 - 13:04

COVID-19 is reshaping the industry and pushing companies to think outside the box to detect opportunities and remain leaders in an industry currently under the spotlight. During a panel organized by Mexico Health Review, healthcare leaders discussed and shared their experiences on the creation of alliances to improve access to critical healthcare services.

David Kershenobich, Director General of The National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition Salvador Zubirán (INCMNSZ), highlighted how this pandemic has demonstrated collaboration at all levels, starting within the sector and then moving to the institutional level, to the whole country and finally uniting the world to fight this pandemic. Kershenobich pointed out five areas that were the most benefited by alliances in the sector. “Regulatory times are speeding up while maintaining the needed standards. Distribution and access to resources has been another highly supported area and this has avoided shortages or lack of access to some services or treatments. Financial and material resources have been shared and distributed to medical centers, from meals to protection equipment, devices and infrastructure. We have experienced support from all sectors and this has also allowed quick and increased access to COVID-19 diagnosis. Lastly, innovation has been boosted throughout the sector; every problem is now approached more openly and with more willingness to collaborate.”

Kershenobich said that while these efforts are remarkable, he hopes to see these collaborations remain because of all the areas of opportunity that the Mexican healthcare sector still faces. “It is necessary to reinforce infrastructure throughout the country to reach true equity.” In addition to infrastructure, he stressed the importance of strengthening human capital and provide training. “Amid this pandemic, there are specialists who do not know how to handle a ventilator,” said Kershenobich, highlighting also the importance of investing and promoting clinical and basic research.

Ricardo Rentería, Sales Management Enterprise Lead of Amazon Web Services LATAM (AWS) revisited the topic of innovation and explained how Amazon had detected that the company would fit perfectly in the sector to build new solutions. “As the largest company in cloud services, we have facilitated forms of communication and made these quick and safe.” Renteria said the cloud has facilitated remote medical consultations as it gathers information from various institutions, universities and hospitals that support the doctor during their work on diagnosis or during procedures. Moreover, Renteria mentioned one important project that AWS had tackled in alliance with the UN. “Through the use of augmented reality technology, we created a platform to safely train professionals on the use of ventilators. It was developed in 60 days to enable medical staff with knowledge.”

Fernando Oliveros, General Manager of Medtronic México and President of AMID, said that while technology is needed to increase health access and correct diagnosis, there are basic things to address first. “Technology is a tool but it is important to provide it. Through better social initiatives, collaboration and communication, we will be on the right path toward the healthcare system we want.”

Oliveros called on the sector to reflect on four subjects. “The current system is focused on curing diseases but not on health and wellness toward salutogenesis (being healthy most of the time). Boosting the creation of sufficient human capital and clinical research is important for investment attraction and development. Thirdly, we have to aspire to a more unified system that does not have so many bureaucratic barriers and allows communication to delivers faster solutions. Lastly, we most favor new business models based on results, not on units or available equipment.” Oliveros said that the reality of Mexico right now is not to start looking for the newest technologies, because “Mexico is 14th economy in the world but 46 in medical devices, which means there is a gap in the use of current technology, not the future.”

Fernando Cruz, President of Novartis México, brought to the conversation the need to also start planning a sector that will be ready for the upcoming challenges. “Life expectancy in Mexico in 2050 will be of 85 years, which means more chronic degenerative diseases.” Cruz called for creating a path of health economics to redefine how people and the sector talk about health. “Beyond costs, health is a trigger for growth and productivity,” said Cruz. He also mentioned that technology has a protagonist role in alliances “Novartis is already working with IMSS on platforms to deliver telemedicine consultations because we have understood that health goes beyond medicine. We need to add value to our offer.” Cruz dabbled into what Renteria formerly mentioned about the cloud and innovation on the sector. “Novartis has enormous amounts of information that through the use of AI and IoT we have been able to quickly access and indeed, deliver faster results.” He concluded by reflecting on the importance of companies’ internal response during the pandemic “Companies that put their people before profitability have delivered the best results and will overall have the best outcome.”

 

Watch the full webinar here.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst