Founding partner of ANA
“Healthcare is decentralizing, the third largest hospital in the world is already the home”
Home care for dependent patients is one of the great challenges for contemporary societies, especially when the population pyramid is increasingly dominated by older people. To improve these services, ANA (Automated Nursing Assistant) was conceived, a control and monitoring system that uses new technology to improve the social and healthcare relationship between caregivers and patients.
Created seven years ago in Mexico by the company Paz Mental, in the latest edition of the MAPFRE Social Innovation Awards, ANA took the top spot in the Health Improvement and Digital Technology (e-Health) category.
Your platform has many components: caregiver training, patient monitoring, medical alarms and notifications, and remote medicine. How did the idea of offering this comprehensive set of services come about?
ANA started out as the management software for our own caregiving agency. But our dream was always to help the different parties involved by means of a virtual assistant. Everyone needs it, from the medical team, to the nurses, the families, the caregivers…
Why do you call caregivers “lights”?
Because these people are angels, they do it with love, affection and a vocation that is admirable. More than 80% are women, often unpaid. They give up their work and their personal lives to take care of their mother or husband, and this is truly commendable. For me ANA is a gift to them, we want to take care of those who take care of others.
The goal is also to offer a more efficient, cheaper and, at the same time, better paid service. How do you manage to put the square peg in the round hole?
We have created management software that allows suppliers and payers to much more efficiently manage their resources, giving them better scalability, with the goal of being able to serve hundreds of thousands and millions of people who will soon be moving from clinic or hospital-based care to home care. And all of that, at the end of the day, ends up lowering costs for suppliers, because it’s 50% cheaper to care for a patient at home than it is to care for them in the hospital. We noticed that inefficiency in the market, and the fact that one party and the other were not communicating efficiently with each other.
Erasmus of Rotterdam famously said that “Prevention is better than cure”. This maxim is also practiced at ANA.
Yes, because when someone is well monitored and cared for at home, you stay on top of medical situations that could eventually turn into emergencies and hospitalizations that affect the health budgets of the insurance companies. At the same time, you allow the patient and their family to have a much calmer life, because you are providing the service at their home, where the patient is more comfortable, where the caregiver knows what they have to be doing and are more relaxed, because they have an organization behind them that is giving them the support they need remotely. So everybody wins.
The COVID-19 pandemic also accelerated that combination of home care and remote medical care.
Definitely. The core element that was preventing home healthcare from taking off was that doctors didn’t think it was possible, they didn’t think you could really deliver a medical service remotely. But today, global health systems are pulling in that direction. Healthcare is being decentralized. For example, in hospitals in Israel 70% of patients are being sent home, indeed the third largest hospital in the world is actually our homes.
You have implemented the system in Mexico, but the problems ANA can help solve are global.
There are 400 million home caregivers in the world and the idea is to use ANA to help them get these people trained, to create a community for caregivers on the one hand, and at the same time to create a community of providers. The Inter-American Development Bank shortlisted us as a platform for financial support, and now we are expanding regionally. What we want is to become the global homecare platform and I think we are on the way to achieving that.
Who did you think of when you found out you were one of the winners of the MAPFRE Social Innovation Awards?
First of all my grandparents, who were alive until last year… I was inspired by several examples, and thanks to them I realized that what you do well in your life, at the end of the day, ends up paying off when you are a senior citizen. To some extent it is because of them that I am innovating in this area today. I also thought about the caregivers I know today, we have been fortunate to interact with tens of thousands over the past 7 years.
What are you going to invest the 40,000 euro prize money in?
In continuing to develop this platform. We are at a time when we are in high demand, we are growing along with different organizations that already have millions of patients and every euro we can raise helps us to bring in the best talent, to be able to build the best team, and to think big.