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Transforming Healthcare in Latin America: The Key Role of Technology and Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship in the healthcare sector in LATAM faces a promising outlook. Startups are leveraging technology and AI to address challenges such as equitable access to medical services, fragmentation of patient information, and inefficiency of clinical processes.


The world, especially Latin America, is witnessing a significant shift towards leveraging technology to revolutionize sectors such as banking, logistics, and, most recently, healthcare, where startups are playing a crucial role in transforming and improving healthcare systems in the region.

The coronavirus pandemic turned healthcare, leading to the rapid digitization of the sector and boosting entrepreneurship to the extent that in Europe, a record was set for investment in 'health' startups, i.e., companies that apply technology to the healthcare field. However, the healthcare sector still faces challenges, such as the lack of equitable access to medical services, the fragmentation of patient information, and the need to improve the efficiency of clinical processes.

Specifically, in Latin American countries such as Chile and Mexico, common factors hinder the provision of adequate medical care, such as the lack and inefficiency of hospitals and clinics, which consequently leads to a lack of access to basic quality health services.

Faced with this scenario, ventures focused on technology and Artificial Intelligence have become an excellent ally to advance in the resolution of health issues, creating technological tools that can generate a positive impact on clinical and administrative processes, refer to emergency and specialists remotely, or even manage patient queues and confirm appointments 100% digitally, all of which translates into more clarity, transparency, safety, and speed.

The benefit to the patient is reflected in time savings and the possibility of better organizing their working day. One Chilean hospital has delivered medicines to patients in 13 minutes compared to the usual 44 minutes. On the other hand, medical centers can reduce the stress of their operations, absenteeism, and waiting times, allowing them to serve more people in a shorter period. A laboratory chain in Mexico has increased patient attendance by 39% thanks to appointment confirmation.

The healthcare sector offers excellent opportunities for all those professionals who want to become entrepreneurs, as it encompasses multiple technologies and tools, as reflected in the 'Global Digital Health Strategy for 2020-2025' prepared by the World Health Organization. According to this strategy, the most important technological trends are offering medical services telematically (telemedicine) to increase access to medical care and optimize time and costs; the Internet of Things to design devices that provide real-time information on a patient's state of health; big data to analyze large volumes of data, optimize medical research, personalize treatments, detect risk factors, identify diagnoses and treatments or maximize the management of hospitals and healthcare centers, among others; artificial intelligence to improve patient diagnoses and boost research into new therapies; blockchain to avoid medical falsifications and to know and monitor the traceability of drugs; and wearable devices that collect information on patients' physical activity and functions to help them promote healthy habits.

Designing products and solutions with technologies can contribute to innovation in health. This is the focus of many companies, especially in the Latin American region. In the world, there are almost a hundred unicorn startups in the health sector (valued at more than US$1 billion before going public); a recent study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) estimates that the digital health market in Latin America will reach US$20 billion by the end of this year. Fernando Mendivil, President of the Latin American Entrepreneurs Association, states, “Creating stable businesses makes capital rounds an opportunity, not a necessity to move forward.”

Looking ahead to 2027, the 'health tech' market is projected to reach a value of nearly $427 billion on a global scale. To stay within this market, entrepreneurs must differentiate themselves from their competitors and offer innovative solutions that improve people's well-being. Martha Laura López, angel investor for biotech ventures, says: “As a region, if we come together, we can accelerate the learning curve and transfer technologies northward.”

Entrepreneurship in the healthcare sector in Latin America faces a promising outlook, financial challenges, and opportunities for growth and development. Eugenio Cantuarias, the founder of several business accelerators, believes that “Supporting founders in the best possible way is key for the development of the ecosystem.” For her part, Adriana Tortajada, leader of private markets in Latin America, thinks that “We must be able to capture and transmit the value in innovation-based entrepreneurship.”

A regional approach and the union of countries can unquestionably accelerate progress in the sector by supporting entrepreneurs' fundamental role in creating innovative solutions that contribute to improving the health of the population.

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Pedro LOPEZ SELA Twitter

Pedro helps individuals & organisations thrive. He simplifies complexity, identifies inefficiencies, connects dots & imagines ideas that drive meaningful outcomes.