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Simulation and Remote Medicine: Pillars of Medical Education

By Andres Gravenhorst - Johnson & Johnson
General Manager


Andrés Gravenhorst By Andrés Gravenhorst | General Manager - Thu, 02/23/2023 - 10:00

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The digital transformation is leading medicine toward new work models anchored in the constant need for innovation, updating and efficient care for illnesses. Technological innovations are also essential for the development of new generations of healthcare professionals.

The emergence of new technologies and their uses, such as telemedicine or telesurgery, represent an opportunity to reinforce collaboration, particularly in the forced irruption caused by the pandemic.

Medical specialization in Mexico is very limited. Only 33 out of every 100 physicians in Mexico are specialists, according to INEGI's most recent National Occupation and Employment Survey (ENOE)[1].

The number of persons employed as doctors per 1,000 inhabitants in the country is 2.4, which is higher than the average of two doctors for every 1,000 in Latin America and Caribbean countries, but lower than the average value from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which is 3.5 physicians per 1,000 inhabitants.[2]

This exposes two situations that need improvement: the overall presence of medical professionals in the country and greater specialization of existing physicians.

Facing this reality, agreements and joint efforts between the private, public, and educational sectors are fundamental to take advantage of and use the best technology in Mexico, both in professional applications and in specialized education.

By the end of 2022, the UNAM School of Medicine and Johnson & Johnson committed[3] to a collaborative agreement to provide high quality simulation courses to postgraduate students. The commitment to better education is key, so that the country's young doctors develop skills, with the support of highly innovative technological tools that contribute to saving more lives and improve traditional treatments.

According to a survey conducted by the market research consultancy Ipsos[4], commissioned by Johnson & Johnson MedTech, during the pandemic in countries like      Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico, about 30% of Mexicans surveyed reported using telemedicine as an alternative to solve their medical care; while in Latin America, 34     % said that they or a family member had delayed or cancel     ed their health services     , which reinforces the value of technology and the area of opportunity that exists for the public health sector.

Furthermore, research from McKinsey[5] shows that virtual healthcare models are proliferating, leaving behind the plain concept of virtual urgent care, to give way to a range of services that enable digital long-term care, integration of telehealth with other virtual solutions and hybrid models, improving consumer experience, affordability, and access to consultations.

Evidence of the above is that, in 2019, only 11% of medical patients were interested in telemedicine, while, in 2021, the percentage increased to 76%. These advances point us to the fact that the next steps of technology are aimed at opening more paths both in medical application, as well as in the preparation of medical staff.

Simulation in Medicine

Medical simulation has been transformed in such a way that, today, real patient experiences can be reproduced through appropriately guided and controlled scenarios from a screen optimized with virtual reality.

The evolution has been interesting and dates back centuries. The first simulator in history was not developed from high technology, but from an item that could function for      practicing      outside reality. Medical simulation was born in the second half of the 20th century with sophisticated and effective mannequins to develop psychomotor skills and abilities.

Current technological advances reach very specific cases, preparing physicians for diverse and unlimited scenarios. Specialty areas, such as orthopedics, cardiology or surgical techniques like laparoscopy     , are examples of the reach of this type of disruptive technology,      such as simulation through virtual reality.

The traditional learning model must adapt to innovations, implement an approach to modern technology and allow for specialization. In-depth training has never benefited as much as it does now      with accurate simulations.

New Medical Education Tools

Continuous education and the adaptation of new technologies focused on medicine, such as telementoring and surgery and procedure simulators, will be at the center of medical development in the medium and long term.

Telemedicine allows professionals, from a distance, to offer tele-radiology, tele-psychiatry, and tele-dermatology services. Its development in conjunction with robotics and artificial intelligence also makes remote surgery possible.

With the implementation of these technological strategies, not only does the medical industry specialize, but the benefits of continuing education extend beyond the medical community, reaching health institutions, providing them with greater prestige and, with respect to patients, giving them greater security, peace of mind and confidence in the people who entrust them with their health, their integrity, and their lives.

Specific actions are necessary to improve continuing education, creating platforms for education, training, and academic networking for the next generations of health professionals in Mexico, regardless of whether their education takes place in a public or private institution.

Introducing medical students to the latest technology and disruptive techniques for diagnosis, treatment and surgery will provide greater security and take the healthcare system into a new era, with digital innovation at its core, and shortening the access gap that still exists, for diverse reasons, all over Mexico.

Photo by:   Andres Gravenhorst

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