The fourth industrial revolution is transforming many sectors and healthcare is no exception. Clinical decision-support systems, artificial intelligence and other information technologies are critical to improving the health system but just as in other industries, data security is a key element to consider, according to Antonio Carrasco, Director General of PLM Latina.
“Having a digital identity is key to boosting patient centricity,” said Carrasco during his presentation at the fourth edition of Mexico Health Summit 2018 at the Hotel Sheraton María Isabel in Mexico City on Thursday. “However, patients must have the right to share their data with each of the subsystems in the Mexican health sector and they must be sure their information will be secure.”
According to Carrasco, a person’s banking data is worth US$3 on the black market while their clinical history is worth approximately US$150, which shows how valuable this data is. The government is a key player in fostering a technologically advanced environment and it is also the best safeguard of patients’ information, said Carrasco. Nevertheless, there is a gap between the different entities in this sector that prevent effective communication. “When patients go from IMSS to ISSSTE or Seguro Popular, there is no follow-up on their previous treatments and they have to provide their personal information again,” he said. “This makes the process highly inefficient and prevents the industry from reaching true interoperability.”
Carrasco said interoperability is what the country should strive for to achieve true patient centricity. Furthermore, any digitalization strategy to be implemented must consider not only hospitals and medicine producers but laboratories, pharmacies, research centers and all other enities participating in the sector. “Institutions must have access to files from a third party that show a patient’s clinical history to make decisions in favor of the patient and thus boosting prevention. Meanwhile, general doctors must have access to new tools that allow for better follow-up of treatments while sharing the generated information with other players involved in the treatment,” he said.
Carrasco gave the audience the example of people insured by IMSS who choose to fill their prescription at the local drugstore due to convenience. “In Mexico, 45 percent of healthcare expenditure is out of pocket and much is related to convenience,” he said. Through interoperability, different industry entities could communicate and reimburse the patient from purchases related to their treatment. “Digitalization could help build a unified structure that works in favor of the patient and reduces redundancies between different public institutions. But the government must be open to invest in these systems,” Carrasco said.
The Ministry of Health must be the central axis to implement interoperability advances, according to Carrasco. However, “having an official norm (NOM) on interoperability is not enough,” he said. “The Ministry must determine the costs and procedures to treat patients and unify them in a single health ecosystem. We also need a public policy that pushes for centralization and interoperability.”