Read the Conversation
EF: What opportunity did you see for this technology in Mexico? What is the inspiration behind the company?
BV: Different countries have different health systems. In countries like Canada, all healthcare is connected. The United States has a regulated service where they exchange data between doctors and pharmacists. In Mexico, we do not have any of those systems. To solve complex solutions between healthcare providers, pharmacies, and laboratories across Mexico, we created a multisided integration platform. There is chaos because of this lack of integration capabilities. To address this, we created an ecosystem where virtually everyone can connect. You do not have huge budgets to integrate into this ecosystem. It doesn't matter if you are a small startup with 10-20 doctors in your network or a big Insurance Company; you can easily create a project with major pharmacy chains nationwide. And you can do the same if you are a. We wanted to eliminate the barriers between health connections in Mexico, which we have done for the past four years.
EF: From the perspective of Medikit, do you see this year as a challenge or an opportunity?
BV: It is a very particular year. During the pandemic, many resources were designated to resolve a specific issue in the healthcare system. However, there were no strategies for that budget. Between 2021 and 2022 these companies, hospitals, pharmaceuticals, and stakeholders in the healthcare system were redefining these budgets, thinking about where they are headed in the future. This is going to be a very relevant year because we have many big companies with a lot of money in their hands who do not know how to solve these problems, and at the same time, we have a lot of innovative small companies with a lack of funding. We will see a market consolidation, especially in the technology healthcare sector. We will see a few minor players developing big projects. The small companies will accompany these big companies. It has been happening over the last year, and 2023 will be very interesting to see how they consolidate.
EF: Your platform is innovative and solves a critical issue. How do you transform this idea into market disruption when you approach clients? What is your pitch to them?
BV: A new line of business is developing in the healthcare sector. Usually, we see e-commerce or solutions to digitalize healthcare services, but that is just a fraction of what you can do in healthcare. We want to allow all our customers to expand their business model. You may be an insurance company wanting to lower your medication expenses. You may be an auditing company and want to see how your pharma prescription behaves in the market. Each of these objectives is unique. We want to facilitate achieving these goals using a simple integration platform in the healthcare system. Over the past few years, we have been known for being the creator of electronic prescriptions in Mexico, but we are much more than that. We allow you to develop your business models, connecting your services with all the pharmacies, laboratories, and points of sale in Mexico.
EF: How do you assess technology adoption in healthcare in Mexico? How are you challenging these difficulties?
BV: It is not that we do not want to adopt technology. There is a lot of willingness. However, technology must benefit the patient, and so far, we have not been able to translate technology into benefits, which is the primary challenge. The most important thing we need to achieve for the patients is decreasing the cost of health access. There is over 50% out-of-pocket cost in Mexico, which is incredibly high. Adoption will be faster if we can define real benefits for doctors, healthcare professionals, and patients. Monitoring the new regulations established in the coming year will also be necessary.
EF: In Mexico, the amount of out-of-pocket spending in Mexico is a big issue, and that is one of the issues that Medikit is trying to address. Can you elaborate on what Medikit is doing to reduce this cost?
BV: When we started this company, we knew technology had to be a primary factor in our business. We started the platform integration service, but that was not enough. We wanted to commit ourselves more to helping the country, so we defined a condition for every partner who wanted to integrate with us: If you are going to integrate with the Medikit system, you also have to provide special prices for the people connecting to this ecosystem. Right now, the pharmacies offer between 5% and 10% discounts on all medications. Our promise to our clients is that they will pay less than if they use traditional paper prescriptions. We made that decision because the cost of prescription medication is a significant barrier for the Mexican population. That is our small contribution to helping to resolve this problem.
EF: Could you elaborate on how you are leveraging the “Mexican HealthTech Association” space to advance the industry and enhance collaboration?
BV: These associations are trying to solve the surrounding issues around regulations in healthcare. I do think this association will help with this. They will be key stakeholders in the decisions made in 2024.
EF: The pandemic was an inflection point of the adoption and acceleration of technology. In this post-pandemic era, how can we show that we capitalize on the learnings of the pandemic to create a more unified and sustainable technology system that works for the benefit of the patients?
BV: We saw a significant increase in the use of EMR and the increase of electronic prescriptions during the pandemic. But as soon as it started to end, we saw a decrease in their use. We now know what we are missing, but we are just beginning to take steps to solve it in the long term. Many companies started using many different digital tools to solve the immediate problem that the pandemic presented. However, it was not part of their strategy but an in-the-moment decision to implement, given the circumstances. Now, we do have a strategy and a path to follow. It goes back to growth processes. We have an 18% yearly growth in the use of electronic prescriptions. We know how to solve the issues that doctors face and make better decisions for the patient, and it is just a matter of time before Mexico will be in a connected ecosystem. There was an issue that we had because of the pandemic: many venture capitalists started seeing healthcare as an industry to invest in. We saw a tremendous amount of cash flow injected into this market. However, there was a lack of direction, so a lot of money was thrown away over the past couple of years without apparent results. Now, we are seeing a setback in how these health companies are being funded, and this is a big issue for the industry in Mexico because funding is a critical factor in solving this problem. It is important to know that healthcare is not as fast as fintech, and you do not see results overnight. Healthcare is slow, and it is supposed to be slow. It needs to take calculated steps toward connected health.
EF: Looking beyond Mexico and towards the future, to what extent do you plan on expanding further across the globe? Do you see a market for your services worldwide?
BV: We see many health tech companies being created worldwide right now, and they need to not only know the market in the country where they were created. If I created my product for doctors in Mexico, I could adapt my product to serve doctors in Chile, Argentina, or Guatemala. What we are doing right now in the health tech sector is thinking about regional services. Many companies from other Latin American countries have been migrating to Mexico because of the out-of-pocket expenditure and the percentage of the population who does not have access to insurance. Once we integrate with those companies here, we can move to increase our operations in their countries, too.
EF: In ten years, how would you like to be remembered as a leader driving change in Mexico and the industry?
BV: One thing we need to achieve in the healthcare system is to eliminate all egos. If I start thinking about how my company will grow and how I will impact the world, I will lose sight of the purpose. My goal is to create impact rather than create a big company. My goal is to convince other health companies that we must join in solving these issues to move forward as a country in healthcare and on the economic side. Every time you get sick in Mexico, you use personal savings to pay for medical treatment. Healthcare is not only about the health of the population but also about the economy and how we can move forward to the next level. We are trained in business to compete with one another in any industry, but healthcare cannot be like that. The patient you now have is likely to be another company's patient next year, not because of our lack of understanding of the patient but because of how fragmented our market is. We must eliminate access barriers across the healthcare system and work together.
EF: If you had to create a roadmap for the future of the healthcare industry in Mexico. What would your three base pillars be?
BV: The first necessary component is defining a framework for minimum viable data interoperability. We are all trying to integrate everything with everything. The more data, the better. But that is a very complex way to work because there is too much information, and you cannot take on such a giant monster. We want to tackle the problem on a small basis and start exchanging the minimum amount of data relevant to the healthcare sector: Healthcare professionals, patients, diagnoses, and prescriptions. If everyone in the country could exchange these four basic elements for the patient’s benefit, it would create an amazing data pool for informed decision-making.
The second pillar would be regulation. This data exchange across silos could create risks for the patient. It probably will not matter if I know you have diarrhea, but it might matter to you if I know that someone in your family has an STI. That privacy can only be achieved with regulation and sanctions, which we do not currently have in Mexico or Latin America.
The third pillar would be investment. I wish healthcare companies could capture the amount of money that fintech has. We could solve a lot of issues. We may not be able to generate as much money as fintech, but I can assure you that we can save many more lives. And that is something we need to create consciousness about in the market. Healthcare is not about generating money but saving lives and changing how we see the future.
EF: Is there anything else you want to add that we did not ask?
BV: I would invite all the health companies to create networks. If we start creating collaboration networks, it will be a different region in the next 2-3 years.