Reimagining Chile’s healthcare system: Harnessing the power of strategic analytics and Big Data to keep patients healthier for less money – Rafael Epstein, Marcelo Larraguibel, Lee Ullman

Lee Ullmann, Director of the MIT Sloan Latin America Office

Lee Ullmann, Director of the MIT Sloan Latin America Office

From El Mercurio

Economic growth, urbanization, and rising affluence are having a profound impact on the health of Latin Americans. Very little of it is positive, especially in Chile.

While life expectancy has increased faster in Chile than in most OECD countries and income per person has quadrupled over the last quarter-century, great disparities continue to exist between the country’s public and private healthcare systems. Healthcare costs are skyrocketing and many of the country’s public hospitals—especially those in rural areas—face a shortage of general practitioners and family physicians.

The modern Chilean diet—comprised largely of ultra-processed foods and sugary drinks—is taking a toll. One third of Chilean children are overweight or obese; one quarter of Chilean adults are in those categories. Chronic diseases, like diabetes, are increasingly prevalent. Stress-related disorders and mental illnesses are also on the rise, as are rates of alcoholism, tobacco use, and certain types of cancer. Over the last decade suicide has been one of the top 10 causes of death in Chilean men.

Today’s statistics are bleak, but we have hope for the tomorrow. Technological innovations and discoveries, powered by Big Data, hold enormous opportunities for Chile and Latin America overall. To explore this further, we are hosting a conference next month in Santiago—“Strategic Analytics: Changing the Future of Healthcare”—that aims to highlight the many ways in which data and analytics promise to transform the provision of healthcare. The conference is expected to draw hundreds of researchers and leaders from academia, health care, government, and industry.

Our agenda is ambitious. By combining MIT’s expertise in analyzing massive amounts of data and optimizing complex systems with Universidad de Chile’s path-breaking medical research and Virtus Partners’ strategic and operational insights, we aim to unravel the complicated underlying problems that plague the healthcare system.

Of course many countries—including the US—face healthcare challenges. Our hope is that this conference inspires engineers, medical professionals, economists, and technologists from all over the world to see the benefits of working together to improve human health. Our goal is simple: to keep patients healthier for less money.

Progress is afoot. At MIT, researchers have devised algorithms that boost treatment for certain diseases, including diabetes, using a combination of machine learning and electronic medical records. At a time when 1.7 million Chileans, or about 12.3% of the population, have diabetes, this research has important implications.

The dawn of telemedicine—which enables doctors to monitor patients from afar—also holds promise, particularly for patients who live in remote areas. (Chile is a long and skinny country, and about 10% of the population lives in rural areas.) Researchers at the Universidad de Chile’s Medical Informatics and Telemedicine Center are using sensors and other devices to monitor patients’ blood pressure, heart rate, weight, and blood sugar levels from great distances. Technologists at the MIT Media Lab are finding new ways to apply emotion technology and wearable devices to help sufferers with autism, anxiety, and epilepsy manage their symptoms.

Researchers are also finding new ways to contain medical costs. Using Big Data to measure returns of healthcare spending, economists are able to help hospitals uncover best practices and align incentives to improve the quality of the care they provide. This has special relevance to Chile. The country’s Fondo Nacional de Salud (FONASA) struggles with overwhelming management challenges and increasing costs. Meanwhile, access to high-quality technology and healthcare services is still limited to the wealthy.

The promise of Big Data is immense, but so, too, are its perils. Many questions remain: How do we ensure that patient data stays both confidential and secure? How do we safeguard against Big Data applications creating even more disparities between the rich and poor, and instead use it to build a more equitable healthcare system for all? And how should governments cope with managing the high costs of aging populations?

These are big challenges and nothing will be solved overnight. Our hope is that the conference will point to new ideas and solutions that improve patient health for generations to come.

Read the original blog post at El Mercurio.

Lee Ullmann is the Director of the MIT Sloan Latin America Office.

Rafael Epstein is the Provost of Universidad de Chile.

Marcelo Larraguibel is the Founder of Virtus Partners, the management consultancy, and an Advisory Council Member of the MIT Sloan Latin America Office (MSLAO).

Twitter Chat de MIT Sloan Experts: #MITBigDataLatAm – Lee Ullmann y Jorge Hernán Peláez

Lee Ullmann, Director of the MIT Sloan Latin America Office Office of International Programs

Lee Ullmann, Director of the MIT Sloan Latin America Office
Office of International Programs

¿Cuál es la importancia de Big Data para Latinoamérica y cuál es su futuro en la región?

Únanse para una conversación entre Lee Ullmann (@MITSloanLatAm), director de la Oficina para América Latina de MIT Sloan, y Jorge Hernán Peláez (@jhpelaez), reportero colombiano para La W, en donde platicaremos sobre cómo los datos masivos pueden contribuir significativamente tanto a las empresas como a los gobiernos.

La plática por Twitter tendrá lugar el 11 de mayo desde las 3:00 hasta las 4:00 p.m. ET.

¿Cómo pueden participar? ¡Es sencillo! Si tienen una pregunta, respuesta o comentario, simplemente incluyan #MITBigDataLatAm en sus Tweets.

La conversación en Twitter es un precursor a la conferencia “Big Data: Shaping the Future of Latin America” (Big Data: Cómo dar forma al futuro de América latina), organizada por la escuela de negocios MIT Sloan el 26 de mayo en Bogotá, Colombia. La conferencia reunirá a profesores internacionalmente renombrados para discutir como se puede usar Big Data para formar decisiones mejor informadas.

En promoción de las ideas de la conferencia, tendremos una conversación en Twitter sobre el papel de Big Data para el futuro de Latinoamérica y más ideas de la conferencia.

Learning how to make a real difference with big data in Latin America – Lee Ullmann

Lee Ullmann, Director of the MIT Sloan Latin America Office Office of International Programs

Lee Ullmann, Director of the MIT Sloan Latin America Office
Office of International Programs

Big data is a popular buzz word these days. Companies are told they should harness the vast amount of data produced globally and it will lead to greater profitability and productivity. By using big data, they can reap benefits like producing better products and customization options. That’s all well and good, but it’s contingent on managers understanding how to use and analyze the data. How many can really do that across all industries?

A McKinsey Quarterly report in 2015 found that very few legacy companies have achieved “big impact” through big data. In the study, participants were asked what degree of revenue or cost improvement they had seen through use of big data. The answer was less than 1 percent for the majority of the respondents.

A big problem with big data is that, although everyone talks about it, most people don’t really know what to do to ensure that investing in it is a win-win proposition. To shed light on this issue, MIT Sloan is bringing its deep expertise to a May 26 conference in Bogotá, Colombia called, “Big Data: Shaping the Future of Latin America.” The presenters include faculty from across the MIT campus as well as the Department of National Planning in Colombia. With examples from their own research, they will share new and innovative ways to use big data to achieve specific goals.

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The future of energy in Latin America — Lee Ullmann

Lee Ullmann, Director of the MIT Sloan Latin America Office Office of International Programs

Lee Ullmann, Director of the MIT Sloan Latin America Office
Office of International Programs

Approximately 34 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean don’t have electricity in their homes and 75% of the regional energy matrix relies on nonrenewable sources of energy, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). However, increasing access to energy and increasing renewable energies and efficiency are critical for sustainable development. In recognition of this major need, the United Nations has made it a goal to make sustainable energy for everyone a reality by 2030 in its Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) global initiative. Read More »

Action learning in Latin America – Stuart Krusell

Director of the MIT Sloan Office of International Programs Stuart Krusell

Director of the MIT Sloan Office of International Programs Stuart Krusell

When a business in Latin America forms a partnership with one of MIT Sloan’s Action Learning programs, both the company and the students in the program emerge as winners.

A small team of students is assigned to work with the company. Most of the participants are second-year MBA students, who already had considerable work experience before starting their graduate studies. For the previous year or longer, the students have been gaining core management knowledge and skills in Sloan classrooms.

The company typically wants help considering the merits of a business initiative, such as entering a new market or launching a product. Many of the initiatives have an important technology component.

The Global Entrepreneurship Lab or G-Lab is the Sloan School’s largest Action Learning program, and it has a strong presence in Latin America. G-Lab participants spend three months studying the company remotely from MIT, learning about the business and its industry. Then, for three weeks, the students go to the company’s site, meeting with top executives and getting an up-close look at the operation. At the conclusion of the project, the team presents its recommendations.

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