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29 July 2020
Medical technology is one of the fastest developing industries worldwide. This development and new technologies have had a significant impact on the manner in which medical services are provided.
Telemedicine has undergone an incredible surge in popularity in recent years, not only due to its cost efficiency but also to the time and resources that may be saved through its use.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, new technologies such as telemedicine and remote medical services have become even more relevant due to the risks associated with close physical contact in hospitals and other places where COVID-19 sufferers may be present.
However, telemedicine is not applicable to all medical services, as some must be provided in a direct and personal manner to patients, either by virtue of their maladies or personal situation or the need to physically execute a procedure irrespective of whether the patient is in a hospital or specialised medical facility.
Medical services in Mexico are regulated in a general manner under the General Health Law and its Regulations Regarding Medical Services Rendering. These are the main provisions governing health professionals when prodiving general or specific kinds of medical or health-related service.
In addition to these legal bodies, other provisions focus on more detailed or technical characteristics for these kind of services, as well as the premises or equipment that should be used.
Among these are the diverse Norma Oficial Mexicana (Official Mexican Standards) (NOMs) which, although not formally laws or regulations, establish technical and specific guidelines and criteria that must be followed by many services in Mexico.
For medical services for patients who do not require hospitalisation (ie, outpatients), the technical requirements for facilities are set out in NOM-005-SSA3-2010, which also refers to minimal infrastructure and equipment for outpatient medical care facilities.
NOM-005-SSA3-2018 (New NOM-005), which was published in the Federal Official Gazette on 9 July 2020, sets out the new minimum requirements applicable to infrastructure and equipment required for outpatient medical care facilities.
New NOM-005 will enter into force on 7 September 2020 and replace NOM-005-SSA3-2010, which will remain in force until 6 September 2020.
Compared with NOM-005-SSA3-2010, New NOM-005 introduces the following requirements:
Arguably, the New NOM reflects diverse situations that were effectively not contemplated by the prior NOM and reflects the modernisation of the medical services on offer and technological advances.
However, the New NOM sets out no clear guidelines on the availability of information via different kinds of media and new technologies, the possibility of combining telemedicine and physical recognition medical services, nor the fact that in many cases, minor surgical processes may be required in outpatient medical care facilities.
One of the greatest lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the need for professionals in all sectors to adapt and use new technological tools that, where possible, permit the delivery of services without the need for physical contact.
This has been particularly true for healthcare professionals, whose risk of becoming sick is far greater than that of most of the population.
The COVID-19 crisis should encourage relevant changes to other health-related provisions in Mexico in order to avoid loopholes or poorly regulated processes and activities that may have an adverse effect on patient care.
For further information on this topic please contact José Alberto Campos Vargas or Ernesto Vega Saldivar at Sanchez-DeVanny Eseverri SC by telephone (+52 55 5029 8500) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). The Sanchez-DeVanny Eseverri SC website can be accessed at www.sanchezdevanny.com.
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