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Dutch technology giant Philips sees connectivity as the ICT priority for Latin American healthcare providers, Philips Latin America executive Mark Stoffels told BNamericas.
"More often than not, healthcare departments and systems are not connected. The need for hospital administration systems as well as electronic medical records [EMR] will only increase with higher disease burden and the need to make sense of an avalanche of data," said Stoffels, who is Philips' health systems market leader in the region.
Meanwhile, sales of advanced algorithms, such as those predicting when patients in the ICU are approaching cardiac arrest, or applications to assess optimized use of assets, are also set for growth.
Stoffels expects Philips' healthtech sales in Latin America to increase on all fronts: connectivity, healthcare informatics, pay-per-use and public-private partnerships.
He said all CIOs/CTOs in the medical arena are striving for maximum operational efficiency and the best outcomes for patients. "Their ICT wish list is long, but at a minimum it includes a holistic view of what happens across the healthcare organization from both a clinical and financial perspective, taking into account security and data privacy concerns."
UBERIZATION OF HEALTHCARE
Stoffels reiterated a common theme among healthtech suppliers, namely that they see the sector becoming increasingly consumer-centric, to the point that the disruption caused by AirBnB and Uber in their verticals is equally conceivable in heathcare.
"We believe that personalization of medicine and industrialization of healthcare are trends that offer similar opportunities [for disruption]. The key role of healthcare providers [today] is to provide better healthcare at lower costs."
And just as AirBnB and Uber are famed for operating their businesses without owning assets on the ground, Philips allows hospitals to do the same by using an "equipment as a service" model. "In Mexico for example, we have both radiology and cardiology solutions deployed on a pay-per-use basis, tailored to patient needs, very much like Uber," he says.
Connectivity paves the way for interoperability and sharing of information between institutions, which leads to consumer fears about insurance firms gaining access to patient records.
However, Stoffels plays down this risk. "Every technological revolution has gone hand-in-hand with adaptations in legal and regulatory frameworks, as well as adaptations in individual mindsets. There are advanced methods to anonymize data such that only 'cohorts of patients' can be assessed by insurance firms or other stakeholders. There is also significant progress made in terms of legislative frameworks to guide innovation," he says.
TASY LEADING THE WAY
Philips' flagship software solution in healthtech is the Tasy platform, developed in Brazil and designed to provide the holistic administrative capability that Stoffels mentions above.
In Brazil the solution has been deployed in 800 clinics and is used by more than 40,000 medical professionals or 10% of the medical workforce. Philips believes these hospitals have achieved cost savings of up to 80% and improvements in performance of 200% as a result.
The solution is now also present in Mexico, through a 2017 contract with multinational medical group Christus Muguerza, which is deploying it at 10 locations. Philips also has agreements to deploy the solution in Colombia, and in January secured a 10-year contract with Middle Eastern medical group VPS Healthcare, covering 18 locations.
Stoffels believes a driver for expansion of Tasy will be adoption in the primary care segment (day-to-day doctors' appointments), which is also the pathway to healthcare modernization in rural or provincial areas.
BNamericas discusses healthtech trends in Latin America at greater depth in the recent Intelligence Series report When ICT Bridges the Gap between Doctors and Patients.