Conversation with Fedor Vidal, expert in digital technology for the health sector.
Fedor Vidal y Amelia Reyes Mora
What is the situation in the DR regarding the digitalization of the health system?
Digital Health has gradually become a reality in the Dominican Republic, being necessary to incorporate new technologies and optimize the processes of the different actors involved in the sector.
What we see in the country is the tip of the iceberg; it is a turning point where all the actors in the healthcare system understand that they must transform themselves to survive the new way of providing healthcare. For this, it is necessary to understand that to make it a reality; we must develop collaborative work and public-private alliances and determine which international standards we need to adopt and adapt. In addition, we need to implement technical and clinical working groups to generate validated protocols and achieve integration between the different actors in the sector.
The pandemic has shown the need to optimize our response capacity and make clinical processes more efficient. The only way to do that is through technological solutions aligned with clinical quality processes.
How necessary is digitalization, and what are the benefits?
The healthcare sector is undergoing an intense process of transformation and mutation; it needs to reinvent itself by digitalizing its operations. No industry is more interdependent on its stakeholders than healthcare, and its success depends on a fast, accurate, and in-context flow of information.
Digital transformation in the healthcare sector is a process that benefits other sectors whose main basis for economic investment is the development of the health of the population and the behavior of diseases.
The binomial health and technology have become the sector’s most useful and important complement due to the amount of information that can be obtained with the big data generated in this area.
Digitization has had a positive impact on all industries, and in the case of the healthcare sector, benefits are evident in several strategic areas; increased efficiency in administrative processes, greater access to quality healthcare, the democratization of information, speed in decision making, clinical decision support, drug interaction to avoid adverse events, digital protocols and clinical practices, interoperability between actors, and the interconnection of the actors that make up the healthcare system.
How can interoperability be achieved in the healthcare sector?
In order to make interoperability possible, several aspects must be taken into consideration: the system must be digitized, without digitization, there is no operability, and systems must be used that have interoperability models and that have the approval of the public sector at the country level.
The most correct way to connect systems is to use international standards created more than eight decades ago and have yielded very good results.
Interoperability, in addition to connecting laboratory analyses, clinical studies, and medical records between specialists, also links pharmacies with sending electronic prescriptions by physicians. It also enables referrals between physicians and sends electronic records to other countries to validate and analyze diagnoses. Interoperability is perhaps the most important element in achieving unified clinical records and directly impacts the country’s healthcare costs.
What steps are required to make digital health part of the national agenda and create a more efficient healthcare ecosystem?
Similarly, a collective governmental and private commitment is required at a collective level to have accurate data on the level of digitization and installed capacity, among other factors, reasons that motivated us to hold the second edition of the Latin American Digital Health Congress.
In the 2021-2024 Action Plan of the Digital Agenda 2030, the following projects have been articulated and defined in the area of e-Health: Create the conditions of connectivity, infrastructure, and regulations to enable Telemedicine and Teleconsultation and national and international enter consultation.
Enable the mechanisms for registration, updating, and interoperability among the different actors of the National Health System. Integrate the insurance systems, single health records, medical follow-up, and performance measurement of public sector hospitals.
Establish structures to interconnect all blood banks nationwide to guarantee the availability of blood and blood products to the entire population.
What are the main challenges to achieving the digital transformation of the Dominican healthcare system?
One of the main challenges to achieving the complete digitalization of the healthcare system in the country is that the different players or actors in the system have a certain alignment and interest among all of them to reach the goal. Other factors are the digital divide, the lack of digital education, and connectivity problems.
The Dominican Republic has made progress in both private and public healthcare offerings, but it has major limitations in terms of the management of uniform and reliable statistics, remote access to its technological platforms, appropriate use of the information generated by patients along the entire healthcare value chain and, therefore, decision making based on quality information.
The adoption of international standards related to coding and clinical documentation and interoperability are the two great challenges for our country. Education on digitization and its impact is another challenge.
What has been Arium Digital Health’s strategy to design its services and products?
Our mission is to create a digital health ecosystem that seeks to interconnect all key players in the health sector, aiming to improve the population’s quality of life through efficient and safe solutions through state-of-the-art technology.
We provide digital services and tools with the objective of transforming the management of the existing processes in the health sector; through interconnected systems; at the same time, we facilitate the interaction between the different actors of the market and provide technological solutions for its effectiveness.
Fedor Vidal, CEO of Arium Digital Health.
Vidal served as chief information officer (CIO) for Johns Hopkins Medicine International, leading the hospital’s technology strategy around the world. During his leadership, he managed countless projects related to patient acquisition, population management, and the implementation of quality programs such as the Joint Commission.
Winner of the CIO 100 award in 2017 is an annual award that recognizes the 100 best organizations in the world in using technology as a tool for value creation.
Fedor is a graduate of business administration from UNIBE and holds an executive MBA from the Université du Québec à Montréal; in addition, he holds multiple certifications: Certified Healthcare CIO (CHCIO), Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS), Certified Professional in Health Information Technology (CPHIT), as well as executive education at universities such as Harvard, Chicago Booth and Kellogg’s School of Business.
A Dominican of great international trajectory who today contributes his knowledge to the country.
Arium Salud Digital’s mission is to provide a digital health ecosystem that interconnects with all the key actors of the sector, with the objective of improving the population’s quality of life by means of efficient and safe solutions through state-of-the-art technology.