Massive quantities of data are generated on a daily basis by the many players in the health system including hospitals, private consultants and pharmacies. To move beyond the creation and collection of information and into the identification of key patterns to optimize primary care and treatment, Mexico faces the challenge of developing standardized systems and protocols for data management, panelists told the Mexico Health Summit 2017 at Hotel Sheraton Maria Isabel in Mexico City on Thursday.
Speaking during a panel titled The Patient Goes First: Using Big Data and Collaboration to Optimize Treatment, Peter Kroll, CEO of Everis, said “business intelligence is creating an evolution in healthcare. New technology allows us to analyze large amounts of information, operating systems and medical records. But we need to find ways to adequately use this data to quickly prevent epidemics and chronic diseases.”
There are, however, several bumps in the road toward leveraging Big Data in healthcare. The Mexican healthcare system, public and private, is spread among several institutions and lacks connectivity. “We need to make a bigger effort to synchronize this data that comes from several platforms. It would help facilitate decisión-making,” said Francisco Corpi, Latin North Director RSS and Mexico of Elsevier.
The moderator of the panel, Ignacio García-Téllez, Director of Health for KPMG, reiterated the scarce amount of resources that exist in the healthcare system and the role Big Data plays in its optimization. Added Antonio Carrasco, CEO of PLM: “Mexico spends a large amount of capital treating illnesses and diseases that could have been prevented at an early stage. By finding patterns in the population through data we can identify key areas that need to be addressed and improve the primary care patients are receiving.”
To achieve a higher level of optimization, the proper use and evaluation of data should be promoted. “Models and systems to treat chronic diseases and epidemics can be created through clinical research based on mass data. We need to invest in properly evaluating information,” said García-Téllez.
The human factor also plays a big role in making sure that information is being properly used. “If the people inputing the information do not know how to adequately use the system, the information becomes completely useless through the lack of accuracy,” said Corpi. “We have to think about the human factor and its interaction with the data-management ecosystem.”
Finding adequate ways to manage the use of data can equally help doctors avoid wasting time filtering the large amount of information available. “Doctors now have to wade through massive amounts of data and our job is to simplify a complex system,” said Corpi. “We aim to reduce treatment times from the moment a patient enters the hospital to the moment they leave.”
Another issue that needs addressing is the lack of transparency and trust in the healthcare system and the way information is stored. According to Carrasco, studies show that Latin America and the Caribbean need to promote more trust in the storage of data. “Unfortunately other countries such as the UK and Australia have had cases where data was used for private and unethical matters and that has impacted the public’s perception. We need to increase trust in institutions.”
When it comes to the collection and use of data, pharmacies are leading the way. “Considering the large number of points of sale that pharmacies encompass, they have become a point of reference for the industry when it comes to using data in healthcare,” said Marcos Pascual, Commercial Director of ANFARMEX. He considers this to be an example of how the private sector often takes the initiative in incorporating new trends in the industry and optimizing services. ANFARMEX is working to create new standards for primary care and to boost the quality of attention through data generation and certification.
Overall, creating an interconnected ecosystem in the health industry is one of the biggest challenges the industry faces. “Data management is essential to reducing health risks in the country. Imagine if someone on vacation in Cancun has a sudden medical emergency and the hospitals and doctors in the area have no access to that person’s medical record,” said Kroll. These situations can put patients at great risk and can be resolved through a better exchange of data. He also emphasized the need for the private sector to share information because the lack of trust inhibits the creation of a single platform. “We can use data to greatly improve the efficiency, quality and prevention of chronic diseases but this is only possible through collaboration.”
Carrasco concluded by saying that Big Data is part of the fourth industrial revolution and it is impacting all industries, andnot only in Mexico. “We need to see the areas of opportunity that can arise from sharing information. Creating a medical record is irrelevant if the data is not being used to improve the care patients are receiving.”