The United States can learn a lot about recent initiatives in Mexico’s healthcare industry, including one initiative by the Carlos Slim Foundation, which puts information into the individual’s hands. Nearly 12 percent of Mexican adults have been diagnosed with diabetes, while 60 percent of the population is either overweight or obese, with the prevalence of other chronic diseases increasing rapidly throughout the country. In response, the Carlos Slim Foundation founded the CASALUD program aimed at strengthening chronic disease prevention and treatment in Mexico, in particular diabetes, using health information technology and mobile health (mHealth) platforms. As Brookings.Edu opines:
The U.S. can learn from successful programs in Mexico that promote better patient selfcare and clinical management of chronic diseases. Coupled with advances in alternative payment models in the U.S., diabetes programs that offer online patient support and telemedicine for effective disease management could be adopted for highrisk populations.
CASALUD is a play on the words ‘casa’ (house) and ‘salud’ (health) for the patientfocused approach to care. CASALUD offers tools and technical systems aimed to reengineer how primary care is delivered in clinics to keep patients out of the hospital. The tools include mobile screening tools, patient portals, provider education courses, supply chain monitoring, national health statistics, and standardized electronic health records. The mHealth connects patients to care providers via mobile or a web based program, giving people the tools they need to better manage their own health. A platform called the “operation control board” lists patient inputs from the mHealth platform which promotes provider followup and more proactive, individualized care. Participating clinics have access to patient files in order to give the best remote healthcare possible, keeping people out of the hospital.
Figure 1: The Five Pillars of the CASALUD
This initiative is a common sense approach to healthcare, attempting to give individuals the tools they need to monitor their own health instead of depending on going to healthcare providers for any advice whatsoever. The United States does not have as wideranging programs as the CASALUD, however it is likely in the coming years the need for such a system will arise as the healthcare industry becomes overburdened in the wake of Obamacare initiatives. Many experts say US citizens could start experiencing the waiting times now experienced in Canada for healthcare. Already, many Americans go south of the border for more common sense healthcare solutions.
Many people travel across borders for medical treatment. Mexico has even created a special lane at the border crossing from the US into Mexicali. Thousands of poor and uninsured people are crossing the border into Mexico for healthcare. Hundreds of thousands of patients come to Mexicali alone each year, and officials say this generates more than $8 million for the city each year. More than a dozen hospitals see Americans regularly and many even have a special administrator to coordinate medical and travel plans. Mexicali residents talk with pride about how easy it is to contact doctors, contacting them via text messages and receiving replies immediately. With 100 medical offices located in a six block radius, the city plans to create a special “medical zone” with improved streets, sidewalks and more services for tourists.This is all part of a trend bringing Baby Boomers south for low cost medical, dental and prescription drugs in Mexico. Mexico has earned a reputation for quality, inexpensive medical care.
Medical tourism has caught on big in the southwestern United States. Some medical tourists enjoy treatment at a quarter or sometimes even a 10th of the cost at home. Canadians and Americans travel to Mexico for an assortment of medical care at low cost while enjoying nice resort vacations to recover. Medical tourism is used for elective procedures like plastic surgery or breast augmentation in Mexico, as well as life saving services for joint replacements, cancer treatments, gastric bypass surgery. Mexico is home to some of the best doctors and surgeons in the Western Hemisphere, in cities like Ensenada, Monterey, Tijuana, Cancun, Guadalajara, Mexico, Mexico City, and Rosarita. Cancun is particularly known for its beautiful resorts and beaches, a prime part of he world to spend a recovery. These highly trained, accredited doctors provide treatments in fields like obesity surgery, orthopedics, cancer treatments, cosmetic and plastic surgeries, dental care, and stem cell technology found in stateoftheart medical facilities throughout Mexico. More information on medical tourism can be found here.
Perhaps, by developing technologies like mHealth, the US healthcare industry could take steps towards keeping some of the medical tourists from crossing south.