Mexico is a country with a population of over one hundred and twenty million people. The challenges that this nation faces to grow and develop are enormous, especially in healthcare. Obesity, diabetes, and heart disease loom large and represent significant public and private health concerns.
The country has one of the lower life expectancy indexes across the OECD, in part due to the limited resources available for health, which impacts all aspects of society. Yet, Mexico is moving to a modern, technologically based solution to this problem: digital health.
Recently, the Digital Health Forum Mexico (DHFM) took place in Mexico City, where I was a speaker and received an honorarium. It was the first event of its kind in the country and reflected the strong commitment of Mexico to transform the healthcare system through both disruptive technologies and challenging the private sector as a partner to evolve healthcare in the near future.
DHFM provided the voices of scientists, digital health experts, entrepreneurs, and government officials to collectively support a broad discussion from innovation to implementation. Captured in the meeting’s mission, the objective was clear: find the best strategies to incorporate technology into the public sector so more Mexicans have access to quality healthcare services. Further, one key perspective was how technology can help “leapfrog” over existing problems to create new and innovative solutions to problems that might seem insurmountable.
One of the key government participants, Julio Sánchez y Tepoz, general commissioner of the Federal Office for Protection Against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS), the regulatory body for health technology. He made it clear that the office is already working to contribute to faster and more effective ways to clear permissions to new digital and medical devices that prove safe and suitable for use in private and public needs:
We have evolved the legal and regulatory framework concerning medical devices, which includes digital devices. This has allowed a better use of financial resources and also we make more efficient the authorization of such medical devices. That is the way we contribute and support Mexico’s transition into digital healthcare.
Also, the medical education sector supported this initiative to join in the effort for Mexico to advance into a transformation of the healthcare system.
Mexico counts on the university to provide the country with the most skilled medical doctors and researchers. At the same time, the faculty programs are continually revised, always incorporating the leading education and breakthrough medical technologies. We have recently incorporated the use of virtual reality and similar applied science to our information technology departments and we will continue working to provide our students with the very best tools for their education.
Further, strategy plays a role in the adoption of technology. Hector Valle, Founding Partner of INNOVASALUD and one of the organizers of the DHFM, together with the UNAM´s School of Medicine presented his vision of how the country requires more that just an understanding of innovation:
Healthcare in Mexico and everywhere should be Predictive, Preventive, Participant and Personalized to get the best results for the people and the system. We need to establish a roadmap to success.
Mexico faces many challenges in healthcare. From simple access to advanced options for superior interventions, it appears that technology will be part of the solution. As government, education and the private sector join forces, Mexico may become a unique “collaboratory” where innovation can address critical and urgent social needs. And when this level of urgency combines with innovative initiatives, the results can be transformative.