MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY IN PERU

Peru 2017 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | FOCUS: MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY

Healthcare providers in Peru are linking up with their counterparts in the US to offer the latest treatments and improve rural coverage.

Peru has made great gains in public healthcare and quality of life since the new millennium; according to the World Health Organization, average life expectancy reached 77 years of age in 2012, an increase of five years from 2000. Increased access to medical care and a falling poverty rate have led to strong improvements in public health, including significant drops in the under-five mortality rate, malnutrition rate, and the maternal mortality ration. By almost every measure, the Peruvian population is healthier and receiving higher-quality care than they were 15 years ago.

Continued innovation in medical technology will be key to continued development. Currently, the country's medical expenditures are well below the level of its regional neighbors. Total health expenditures account for 5% of GDP, according to CIA World Factbook data. Access to services in the rural provinces is not as widespread as in the urban and coastal areas, though new infrastructure projects are working to improve to reduce these gaps.

To further the continued development of the populace, new innovations in medical technology are emerging to better provide services and improve health outcomes. Efforts are well under way to share resources and information with other nations. In March 2015 the US Trade Mission visit to Lima discussed sharing biotechnology, biomedical equipment, and information systems to further develop the Peruvian health system. The trade mission, which was made up of 19 companies in the US health sector, toured facilities and discussed possible investment opportunities.

Another technology making its way onto the market is IBM's cognitive technology. Watson, an artificial intelligence with a wide database of medical knowledge, is able to serve as an “assistant” to doctors, providing diagnostic information upon demand. Additionally, Watson has the ability to “learn” as it takes in additional information, potentially making it an unprecedented source of diagnostic information. While far from fully deployed as of yet, IBM anticipates Watson to eventually become a valuable aid for doctors across the world.
International collaborations like this will doubtless be crucial to the continued introduction of new technologies, but further advancements are arriving within the Peruvian medical system as well. Clinica Internacional recently announced the acquisition of a Revolution CT topography unit, a cutting-edge machine manufactured by GQ. Lima will become only the third country to use this new technology in the region; it has previously only been available in Mexico and Brazil. The Revolution CT is capable of capturing high-quality images of organs even when they are moving, which allows for better treatment of patients who might otherwise be unable to remain still for long periods of time.

Several groups, both public and private, have demonstrated a willingness to invest in these new technologies. Groupo Salud de Peru, a holding company formed in 2008, invested USD120 million into the Clínica Delgado de Miraflores, a new high-status hospital outfitted with state-of-the-art technology. However, a possible limiting factor is that Peruvian law, unlike Chile or Colombia, allows vertical integration. Some allege that this law, which allows insurance companies to own hospitals, limits medical innovation by reducing incentives to improve quality of service in favor of savings.

Still, there is progress being made. New therapies for diabetes have recently appeared that manage sugar levels while also control blood pressure and reducing cardiovascular issues, a significant advancement in a country where a third of the population suffer from kidney problems. Martin Cornejo Guerrero, General Manager of Biomedical systems, believes that a new wave of thinking is emerging that emphasizes quality medical processes: “Today people both from the public and private sectors are putting quality as a priority above price,” he says. A continued emphasis on quality and innovation should lead to great things for the future of medical technology in Peru.