About 68 million Mexicans, over 50 percent, do not have access to healthcare services. Addressing this problem has been the objective of many government administrations and organizations within the public and private sector. At Mexico Health Summit 2019, held at Papalote Museo del Niño on Thursday in Mexico City, Jaime Cervantes, CEO of Vitalmex proposed an integral strategy that will allow the public and private sector to work together to put the patient at the center of care.

“Our healthcare system has made great strides in providing better care, but it is not enough,” said Cervantes. Mexico’s healthcare system aims to provide high-quality, affordable care to over 120 million people but this goal has not been achieved even though the country’s constitution states that healthcare is an essential right for all. The new administration further expands this goal as it aims to provide free medication and healthcare services for all Mexicans through a focus on prevention.

There are many barriers to access. Chief among them, explained Cervantes, is the fragmentation of Mexico’s public healthcare sector. “There are 12 public providers of healthcare and each has its own budget and rules.” Other hurdles are the high operational costs associated with these institutions and the large number of intermediaries between patients and the industry. There is also a significant deficit of doctors, nurses and specialists. The system is hampered further by poor-quality control of hospitals and the sector has not been able to provide electronic medical files. At this point, patients do not have access to their own medical information.

The federal administration’s goal is to address these problems and provide primary attention to all Mexicans through integrated healthcare networks. Cervantes explained that to bring together the public and private sector it is necessary to create mixed contracts that allow the optimal use of all hospitals and clinics within both sectors. “These contracts will allow the system to adapt to the patient instead of the other way around. While players in the sector often say that the patient must be empowered, Mexico’s healthcare system acts as a barrier to doing so.”

An example of poor allocation of resources is the distribution of surgeries across sectors. “While IMSS performs 3.22 surgeries per day, hospitals in the private sector perform on average 0.53 surgeries per day.” This problem, explained Cervantes, could be addressed through a mixed contract that would allow for better use of resources and to ensure that patients receive the care they need as soon as they need it. “These contracts must incorporate everything a patient might need from the moment they arrive at the hospital, from medical supplies to all hospital infrastructure.”

The only thing that is necessary to implement these models is the will of the government and the industry. “A reform that will allow for the creation of mixed contracts will allow the provision of care for a larger number of Mexicans, which will be increasingly needed because by 2050 the country will have 150 million habitants. The government will not be able to care for this large population so it falls on us, the private sector, to ensure access to care.”

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