Digitization, a term that refers to the transformation of activities that used to be carried out in a way analogous to the digital space, has been a slow but constant process in all industrial segments in Latin America. And the health vertical has not been the exception to the rule.
For example, at the beginning of March 2020, in Chile just over 100 people were connecting with their doctor through a device. But, just five months later, more than 133,000 have attended remote consultations, according to figures from the Social Security Institutions (Isapres) sector.
In this context, the executive president of CooSalud EPS Colombia, Dr. Jaime González, emphasized the importance of the use of data for development in medicine. “All this transformation will lead to efficient use of data. It is an option to improve people’s health status and, therefore, it is important to generate a good data governance system and give it the appropriate relevance, ”he said at the Digital Health Tech Summit event at the Latam Business Conference.
The Latin American health and technology experts who participated in the meeting shared that the main challenges in the health digitization process are, firstly, the generation of integrated databases and avoiding the fragmentation of the clinical record, the use and responsible management of centralized data to contribute to a better development of medicine and, finally, to change the paradigm in patient care towards an instance of disease prevention.
To respond to these needs, various companies in the information technology (IT) industry have developed health-related solutions. For example, Zenta Group, the Chilean company dedicated to software development, identified that one of the most common problems in the industry was the reallocation of medical hours and waiting lists to schedule an appointment.
“Medical organizations often have data displayed on many information sites. For this reason, as the data do not talk to each other, it is difficult to make an analysis on them “, he commented Javier Linares, Deputy Manager of Operations and Data Project Manager at Zenta Group. In this way, the company created a solution to centralize information on blockages of medical appointments, reassignment of hours and others.
Linares affirmed that the next challenges related to this technology are related to starting to build metrics to allow the medical center to create better logistics, optimize medical care and generate a 360-degree map of this particular topic. That is, trying to predict aspects of medicine with big data.
Another company dedicated to the development of software for the medical industry is Continuum, which is part of the Association for a Better IT Industry (MITI), a trade association that seeks to raise standards within the technology industry in Chile and Latin America.
Continuum has an area specifically dedicated to the development of health technologies for two years. Despite the fact that they started in this area to optimize and streamline teleconsultation processes and medical hours schedule platforms, the company managed to detect some others in the digitization of health.
“Difficulties are still being observed to advance in a true digital transformation, which has to do with cultural changes and not only technological ones. There is a tendency to transfer face-to-face procedures to digital ones as a carbon copy, but the services and processes for digital channels are not rethought ”, they said. Carolina Rojas and Soledad Paredes, consultants in the Continuum health vertical.
Thus, the experts who participated in the conference agreed that the health digitization process not only encompasses challenges such as logistics or data processing, but also implies changing future paradigms.
In this regard, the Dr. Marilú Acosta, director of the Telemedicine Program for COVID-19 at the ABC Medical Center in Mexico, raised the need to generate disruptive thinking: “We must recreate a whole vision and stop talking only about sick people. These technologies would allow us to change the paradigm and focus health to be in health as such, and that our patients are healthy for much longer than sick, that visits to the doctor are to stay healthy and not to treat diseases “.