Technology Boosts Care Provision, Hospital PerformanceBy Miriam Bello | Fri, 05/28/2021 - 09:07
Q: CHRISTUS MUGUERZA was recently recognized as one of the most influential hospitals in the northern region of Mexico. What was the main driver behind this award?
A: Long before the pandemic, CHRISTUS MUGUERZA implemented a digital transformation program that was then accelerated by COVID-19. The program allowed us to keep in close contact with patients, physicians, commercial partners and our associates, as around 15 percent of them were sent home. We were one of the first health systems to adopt telemedicine in Mexico, allowing our communities to have direct communication with physicians. During the pandemic, this system was free for COVID-19 consultations.
In addition, at CHRISTUS MUGUERZA we noticed a large amount of false information on the internet, so we created an education campaign through our social media channels to provide patients with answers and additional medical orientation. CHRISTUS MUGUERZA made use of diverse technological platforms to disseminate information, whether it was COVID-19-related or not. We carried out informational webinars and shared supporting information to guide the community.
We became proactive after realizing that many patients were not following their doctor’s recommendations for many reasons. Through telemedicine, we developed a novel way to approach our patients to facilitate follow-ups and address their acute or chronic disease. We also developed a system to deliver medicines or tests, among other products. In some cases, patients need to come in person to see their doctor but that depends on the seriousness of their condition; more than half of patients can be treated remotely.
After a year of the challenges brought by COVID-19, CHRISTUS MUGUERZA has been operating impeccably despite working remotely. In 2020, we accomplished our goals thanks to our effective communication network and technology. CHRISTUS MUGUERZA grew by 15 percent last year and we are resuming our expansion projects through a new hospital, a specialized facility in Monterrey and an oncology center in Puebla.
Q: How is CHRISTUS MUGUERZA supporting health professionals at your institution?
A: This is a primary concern for us. CHRISTUS MUGUERZA is a proactive institution that acts on its values and it is essential for us to oversee the health of our associates. After a year of the pandemic, both our front-line and home office associates began developing physical and mental issues. Therefore, we created the program Atención y Escucha to offer them physiological support. At first, the service was offered at their request, but we changed the scheme to take a proactive approach, first for front-line associates and then for the rest of our staff.
Moreover, through our HR department, we implemented programmed breaks for some of our associates so they would not experience physical and mental exhaustion or stress. While this program could not be sustained through the most critical months of the pandemic, we made sure to implement it again when we had fewer patients.
Q: How are you using state-of-the-art technology to transform patient care?
A: One of our priorities during the pandemic was to offer the same quality care to both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. Those facing emergencies or needing surgeries and other treatments are still needed. We created a system to guarantee safe hospital care and avoid compromising their health.
In line with this promise, we continued our investments in new equipment for our hospitals. At CHRISTUS MUGUERZA we see technology as a tool. Our specialized Extra-Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) center received over 140 patients during the pandemic, which led us to open a second center at our newest hospital Faro del Mayab in the south of the country. This is a highly complex technology that demonstrates how we adopt and adapt technology at different levels to improve care. This investment was fundamental for our continuous growth and to provide state-of-the-art technology to an often-neglected region of the country. Faro del Mayab has become a recognized institution thanks to its critical, specialized procedures on neonatal intensive therapy, pediatric intensive therapy, and adult intensive therapy.
Another critical area was the continuous development of our organ transplant capabilities, which were negatively impacted by pandemic limitations. However, we kept our organ transplant programs open, at a calmer pace but providing nonstop attention. To reinforce this area, CHRISTUS MUGUERZA is investing in technology that will allow us to use organs that would not have primarily qualified for transplantation. This will allow us to rescue the organ and save more patients. This technology is already being used in Europe and has demonstrated a high value.
Moreover, we are intensely investing in electronic medical records (EMR) and cloud medicine. AI and the cloud have been some of the greatest solutions for standardizing healthcare. So far, we have generated evaluation systems for obstetric patients, and we are developing an evaluation system for critical patients. These systems facilitate decision-making for medical staff during a procedure. In terms of digital health, CHRISTUS MUGUERZA has over 18 running programs to exploit the cloud and AI to improve care.
Q: How does CHRISTUS MUGUERZA promote preventive rather than corrective care?
A: We understand that hospitals can reduce their burden through effective public health policies. Public health institutions are in charge of raising awareness about the biggest health issues the population faces. To support these actions, we began creating educational campaigns at primary care centers. We are now complementing these with our telemedicine platform to offer virtual care, from prevention to treatment using communication tools. The cloud complements this offer by providing quick access to the patient’s EMR regardless of where both patient and doctor are.
Q: How do you ensure quality in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education and nursing education?
A: For nursing education, CHRISTUS MUGUERZA established a training course through virtual meetings complemented by in-person practices designed to ensure their safety. The practical part of medical education cannot be left behind. Therefore, we developed this hybrid model that delivered very positive results. During last year, we had our highest nursing enrollment and a small percentage of dropouts.
Our academic partner, Universidad de Monterrey, supported us on all our programs: nursing technician, bachelor's in nursing, and specialization and graduate programs.
For medical education, we just resumed our in-person activities a couple of months ago but prior to this we had also implemented a hybrid model. As for resident doctors, they provided care throughout the entire pandemic as they are already general doctors, so these experiences are part of their learning process.
Christus Muguerza started operations in Monterrey in 1934 and joined the Christus Health network in 2001. In Mexico, the network has 11 hospitals, four ambulatory clinics, 14 outpatient medical centers and five social assistance clinics.