What role can medical devices play as a driver for the Mexican economy?
The role of medical devices is an important one not only in the treatment of patients, but also in production and exportation. They represent a technological transformation in healthcare. Mexico is the largest exporter of medical devices in Latin America and the ninth-largest in the world, larger than Germany and Italy. We still have potential to become number two or number three. The capabilities we have built as a country in terms of manufacturing in the past few years in the automotive and the aerospace industries are now spilling over into the medical device industry
How can inefficiencies in the healthcare system be mitigated by medical device innovations?
Our focus is on turning technological improvements into something that makes sense for the patient as well as for the healthcare system as a whole. As an example, now we have a way to monitor patients with pacemakers without having the patient come into the clinic. Many who have a pacemaker will still need to go to a specialized hospital that can only be found in major cities in Mexico. Having this service provided remotely will have a huge impact on the economy and the people affected by these ailments. We have a device that can monitor patients in their houses, and you can tell which patients are the ones that truly need to visit the hospital. We want to look at the total cost of intervention healthcare and work together to streamline that to make sure you will be able to service more patients with the best help
What are the biggest challenges you are facing in terms of adding value to and expanding manufacturing of medical devices in Mexico?
Number one is awareness. In Mexico, people only think of pharmaceuticals when referring to the healthcare industry, but the level of complexity and development is totally different. Developing a molecule is tough, but once you have the molecule developed it is just about commercializing the product. This is not the same as medical devices, where you develop the device and then need to train the physicians and nurses to use it. You even need to train the patient for the follow-up after surgery. Developing the purchasing, regulatory, and quality processes for medical devices is different, and that is where we are struggling. We need to ensure the regulatory agencies understand this and demonstrate that using medical devices can help optimize therapies. The entire healthcare chain improves with the correct introduction of medical devices.
What is the Mexican market's role in Medtronic's growth in Latin America?
We have been growing by double digits in Mexico for the last two years, and our potential is even higher. We need to invest to further develop the market, as we feel we have not really scratched the surface yet; we need to grow faster than Latin America in the next three-five years. We also need to build and invest in the country and create conditions that ensure that growth is not only maintained but accelerated. Mexico has not been among the top recipients of pharmaceutical and medical device investment in the last 10 years, which has gone to Brazil, Costa Rica, Panama, or Colombia instead because we have not really positioned Mexico as the strategic market that it should be.
What is needed to increase its investment attractiveness?
The first is education—innovative ways of treating medicine are not taught in Mexican universities. One way to solve that is to design an education curriculum that allows physicians to be exposed to technology at the resident stage. The second one is infrastructure.