Digital tools could help address care gap in Latin America

22 February 2024 Consultancy.lat 3 min. read
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Nearly two thirds of people in Latin America have had deferred medical care at some point in the past year, according to a survey of more than 4,200 healthcare consumers from McKinsey & Company. Affordability and inaccessibility were the two main reasons behind the trend.

Health service accessibility in Latin America remains deeply unequal. Affluent consumers prioritize convenience and quality experiences, whereas those with middle and lower incomes face significant challenges with affording and accessing care.

But it seems that many of the issues faced by Latin Americans when accessing health care services could potentially be addressed through digital tools like apps, which have become more popular, according to the McKinsey & Company survey.

Digital tools could help address care gap in Latin America

In fact, many healthcare consumers rely on digital tools and a majority of respondents said they are in favor of more health-related digital offerings.

While most people in Latin America (44%) still look to doctors as the most reliable source of information on healthcare (and for good reason), 26% of respondents said social media and health apps are their primary sources of information.

Digital tools could help address care gap in Latin America

Apps are also widely used for wellness and preventative care in Latin America: Across all countries surveyed, 81% said they were willing to pay for such apps. They are primarily interested in apps that offer the ability to schedule virtual appointments, monitor one’s health, and set goals.

Though many of those that favor wellness and preventative care apps said they would be willing to pay, most would not pay more than $6. So in this case, digitalization can certainly boost access, but again, access and affordability go hand-in-hand.

Digital tools could help address care gap in Latin America

When it comes to subscription-based products that can be affordable alternatives to middle and lower-class Latin Americans that cannot afford normal health care, a lot of respondents said they would be interested.

A total of 38% of respondents said they were interested in a mostly preventative care-focused subscription-based service. And again in this case, most respondents were not willing to pay the upper range of prices, unsurprisingly.

Digital tools could help address care gap in Latin America

“Incumbents, innovators, investors, and policy makers have a unique opportunity to address the evolving needs of Latin American consumers by investing in new business models, expanding digital services along the value chain, and designing affordable healthcare plans that put patients at the center,” said Felipe Child, partner in McKinsey & Company’s Bogota office.