Supporting Entrepreneurial Journeys Through Tech, MentorshipBy Miriam Bello | Tue, 08/16/2022 - 17:01
Q: What impact did the tech and entrepreneurship boom following the COVID-19 pandemic have on Hacking Health’s services?
A: While the pandemic disrupted the provision of essential health services, it also opened the door to new opportunities and changed the reality of the industry. The virtual world allowed the sector to be more versatile and achieve other types of interactions. In healthcare, it allowed us to explore different types of medical care and to observe diseases in different populations, among other opportunities.
The pandemic led to an entrepreneurship boom but some projects that predated it saw investment dry up. Some funds also redirected their investment into developing technology or COVID-19-related projects.
Q: From your perspective working in Monterrey, what are the main health problems afflicting Mexico?
A: One of the main problems is the disruption of the supply chain. We are facing a shortage of medicines, medical supplies and health personnel. The system faces structural problems because there is no homogeneity in the provision of services across the different entities of the Mexican health sector. Many can also receive benefits at two institutions. The system is also changing following the deployment of a new institution for the universal provision of healthcare and medicines. The switch was fast and unclear, generating confusion among all actors.
During this period, out-of-pocket spending also increased. COVID-19 boosted the acquisition of private health insurance by 2-4 percent. This could have a positive effect in that people may pay greater attention to their health but there is no data to back this.
Q: How has the pandemic impacted investment in healthcare entrepreneurship?
A: Early on, it was believed that the pandemic would attract strong investment to the sector but the pandemic was followed by many more crises, including inflation, disruption of supply chains and the war in Ukraine. Instead of investing in a single project, investors are diversifying their portfolios into many small projects.
Q: What regulatory challenges has Hacking Health encountered when implementing health innovation?
A: The country has needed to update its regulations for several years. The priority is to encourage a mature digital health environment, addressing telemedicine, electronic clinical records (ECR) and the adoption of big data. Some issues are advancing, such as treating software as a medical device.
As an industry, we need to pay more attention to cybersecurity. There are positive efforts being made in relation to both regulation and cybersecurity but there is a long way to go.
Q: Hacking Health organizes several events to boost the visibility of projects and problems and to foment collaboration. What events are in your pipeline?
A: Hacking Health has 10 years of global experience bringing together those who want to solve problems in the health sector. Among our initiatives, we hold different events every one or two months with entrepreneurs to offer them mentorship as they develop their projects. We recently held the Medical Device Innovation Forum alongside Pragmatec, in which participants shared their experiences related to regulatory, manufacturing and marketing issues.
Q: Monterrey has become a highly relevant actor in healthtech. What makes the region such a strong player in this field?
A: The region offers many benefits, such as medical clusters, quality hospitals, manufacturing opportunities and excellent professionals. Monterrey, in particular, receives significant investment thanks to its hard-working people. We are proud of the projects we have supported here, some of which have expanded across the country and even abroad.
Q: What other priorities should the Mexican health sector address as tech becomes a standard of medical care?
A: The use and importance of health data is also a priority. In addition to Hacking Health, I direct the Health Data Science Program (HDS), which provides leaders with the skills and tools they need to obtain, manage, store and analyze the data generated from the health sector. This course seeks to enrich strategies and decision-making to solidify the use of data science in organizations in the health sector in Mexico and Latin America.
In addition to the course, in the next five years, we will focus on the generation of data science centers in the main organizations in Latin America, which will be used to take advantage of all the information that is generated.
Hacking Health is a worldwide movement that brings together technology innovators and healthcare experts to build realistic, human-centered solutions for healthcare problems. It is present in Monterrey and Mexico City.