Technology: Transforming and Disrupting the Care Ecosystem

Fri, 09/20/2019 - 16:44

Technology is revolutionizing healthcare, from the patient’s home to the operating room, reshaping the healthcare landscape and creating a paradigm shift away from hospitals and institutions to be delivered virtually through telemedicine. With this shift, services are being tailored to individuals rather than being designed based on statistical averages. “Using advanced diagnostics, we can gather a specific picture of the patient and their condition. This allows us to develop medicine that is highly personalized to their profile,” says Andrés Bruzual, General Manager of Roche Pharmaceuticals Mexico.
Although digitalization is impacting all health fields, the speed with which players adapt varies greatly. “The healthcare sector is indubitably migrating toward digitalization and technology but each player is moving at its own pace,” says Miguel Nieto, President of Latin American Region of Carestream. The purpose of digitalization is also different for each stakeholder, with some seeing it as an individual process and others as a collaborative process. “We see a mixture of different systems as each player uses the best one for their own purposes. While some are investing in technology and are implementing software that favor interconnection with other systems, the result is a complex hybrid,” Nieto says.
The development of a country’s economy and markets plays an important role in the degree of digitalization and transformation of its health industry. Nieto says that “developed markets, such as Europe and the US, have successfully incorporated technology and information systems into their diagnostic practices.” In comparison, other markets behave differently in the number of players that accept and how these interact with each other. “In the US, for instance, care is provided in a ‘closed’ system where tests, primary, secondary and tertiary care are supplied by a single provider,” Nieto says. “In Mexico, a patient receives primary care from one provider, testing from a different one and secondary or tertiary care with yet a different provider, which we call an ‘open’ system.” Therefore, the sum of the rules of interaction, the number of players and the dynamics of the market directly affect the level of digitalization and the adoption of technologies for industries.
Insufficient diffusion of new technologies, according to a report on Digital Technology Diffusion 2018 by the OECD, has been cited as one possible reason for weak productivity performance over the past two decades. The international organization recommends the promotion of market incentives that reinforce adoption of digital technologies and public policies that foster the adaptation of technologies, market access, fair competition and efficient reallocation of labor and capital.
The security of data and information has become a topic of great importance in recent years as the 21st century has become a witness to historic data breaches and hacks. The most recent hack involved the bank Capital One, which suffered a breach that impacted more than 100 million people, compromising information such as social security numbers, bank account numbers, addresses, credit scores and more. Other attacks include the epic breach at Yahoo in 2013 that compromised the data of 3 billion people, First America Financial Corporation’s exposure of 900 million sensitive customer files in 2019 and the well-known case of Facebook’s data breach of more than 540 million users’ records and social networks.  
Different sectors of the economy have been victims of data breaches and hacks, including the health sector. According to the 2019 Annual Breach Barometer Report, more than 31 million patient records had already been breached in the first half of 2019, with hacking causing the majority of security incidents and breaching the most patient records. Mexico ranks third for most cyberattacks in the world, just behind the US and UK, according to a 2018 Lockton México report that states that the estimated loss as a consequence of cyberattacks in the country totaled US$7.7 billion in 2017.
International standards govern the confidentiality of data and information, as well as the systems that process it. ISO 27001 is a Standard for Information Security Management Systems that allows organizations to assess risk and apply the necessary controls to mitigate or eliminate them.
The evolution of the health industry due to technology has gone through different processes, from Industry 1.0 to today’s iteration, Industry 4.0, which connects the IoT to manufacturing techniques, allowing systems to share information, analyze it and use it to guide intelligent actions. Among the opportunities of 4.0 technology in the health sector is the management of health information or healthcare analytics that could improve the industry and care services. “Improving communication can help the health industry understand more deeply not only the dynamics of communication between health professionals and patients, but also to provide complementary solutions that spread throughout the industry,” says Antonio Carrasco, Director General of PLM Latina.
Information generated through IT can also be turned into valuable information that can be used by both the private and public sectors. “Information can be gathered and used to understand epidemiological trends in a country, so a company can know if an epidemic is on the horizon,” says Carrasco. The global healthcare analytics market was estimated at US$7.04 billion in 2016 and is expected to total US$53.65 billion by 2025, according to a study by Grand View Research.
Javier Guadarrama, Director General of Health and Benefits, a Grupo Promass company, says the impact from data analytics on health services has sweeping potential. “Information allows a company to understand the main uses for phone-assisted medical care, what diseases are more frequent, what are the main reasons why people call, most common age group, peak hours and the locations where these services are demanded.”