Challenges and investment opportunities in eHealth sector
The use of technology to optimize and modernize processes, in order to provide an improved service for consumers, is known as 'digital transformation'. The trend has permeated every sector of the economy. Healthcare is no exception.
Colombia has paved the way for the utilization of health technology through initiatives such as the National Human Talent in Health Registry (RetHUS), support for start-ups providing services in this sector, and hosting important healthcare and technology-related events, such as Meditech.
Although these initiatives represent a step in the right direction, eHealth still faces significant challenges in Colombia, according to Minister of Health and Social Protection, Juan Pablo Uribe.
"We need change to prevent the system stagnating," he said, during his speech at the 2018 Exponential Transformation: A Health Sector Challenge forum. "I wonder where the elements are that would allow technology to develop in Colombia on a massive scale, enabling us to meet our requirements with low costs, and reap the many benefits. Our challenge is to ensure these new technologies also reach the small towns, which are far from big cities."
The chance to improve healthcare coverage through technology is just one of the factors that make eHealth an important investment opportunity. Demographic changes, as well as an increase in Colombian's life expectancy (currently 75.4 for men and 81.1 for women) have forced healthcare institutions to adopt more efficient processes. Innovative technology has an important role to play in the sector's transformation.
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Technology to ensure personalized medical attention
"The world's health systems are finally revolving around people: patients, families and citizens, who require more and more prevention and promotion in order to avoid illness," says Santa Fe Clinical Foundation director Henry Gallardo. "At the same time, these systems are concerned with better clinical outcomes, more appropriate technologies and robust information systems that allow them to work throughout the continuum of care."
The development of technologies focused on service provision tailored to each patient has therefore become an important investment opportunity. Colombia has eHealth startups, such as X-rol Telemedicina, which are constantly interested in receiving capital in order to leverage growth.
Big Data, predictive and preventive models
The sector's new paradigm will be based on value, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit's global health editor, Martin Koehring. "That means increasing the best positive result at the lowest possible cost," he said. "In the past it was about proving that a medicine was a safe, efficient and effective treatment, regardless of cost. Today, we look at cost effectiveness. That's why data is important."
There are opportunities for investors interested in predictive and preventive models, according to Coosalud corporate affairs director Natalia Largo Gonzales. "Self-care is smarter, thanks to mobile devices and new technologies," she said. "Patients can self-diagnose and instantly receive accurate information. Services can be provided anywhere, not necessarily person-to-person, and virtual care circles can be created."
Investors interested in finding out more about the products, services and developments in the medical industry, can participate in Meditech, a health fair that represents one of the main business platforms for healthcare in the region. Companies can identify opportunities for commercial exchange, strategic alliances and investments, with a view of transforming the sector.
The development of applications and wearables, as well as the creation of optimization systems for health services through the Internet, are attracting the attention of investors worldwide. Investing in eHealth start-ups represents a transformation of the sector, with the goal of increasing coverage and providing a service that improves the quality of life.