Jaime Cervantes
Director General
Grupo Vitalmex
View from the Top

Improving Healthcare Access for the Underprivileged

Wed, 09/07/2016 - 15:56

Q: What would be the most relevant inefficiencies in the healthcare system and how do you help in fixing them?

A: As in many other countries, there are inefficiencies in the Mexican health system. The WHO suggests five indicators that healthcare systems across the world should adhere to in order to fulfill their ultimate goal, which is to improve public health. The first one is that the system has to be humane, and we have incorporated this by ensuring that we give dignified treatment to all. The second indicator is availability, meaning all supplies and goods necessary for patients should be available in a timely manner, which requires significant logistic efforts. Accessibility is the third indicator, and it is typical in emerging countries to see both protected and unprotected people, which is why Grupo Vitalmex is creating a substitute infrastructure consisting of clinics to satisfy the demand for healthcare services for the underprivileged. In the near future, we look to expand our reach to include clinics and hospitals. If we can do this in collaboration with Seguro Popular we will be able to provide excellent options for patients.

Q: Are there any indicators of hospitals’ performance improving due to your services?

A: Our services reduce costs in the range of 12 percent to 20 percent, while increasing productivity of patient care and coverage by an average of 30 percent. Additionally, surgeon and physician techniques improve significantly. We measure this indicator based on the rate of implementation of our services. The final goal is to improve the patient experience. A challenge we face is to merge our sales force with the vision of our partners, because the health industry pushes hospitals and institutions to acquire the newest technologies. There is a constant drive for innovation. Health institutions are interested in reducing costs; patients want the most comprehensive medical attention possible and doctors are determined to improve their work. A balance of these three factors is necessary.

Q: How significant is the opportunity to expand this kind of service in Mexico and other countries?

A: Mexico performs 2 million medical procedures per year, including surgeries. At this point, we are covering 700,000 and the potential target is 5 million. The opportunity is so important that it is almost impossible for one single company to provide the required services. There are not enough companies with the quality standards to help the national health system implement the five WHO indicators. We have five main competitors and are the pioneers of integrated services. We are replicating our service model in other nations. Mexico is the only country that has developed integrated services, while others, such as the US, are surprisingly behind in terms of service delivery to hospitals. For this reason, we are targeting the American market in the short and medium term.

Q: How are you planning to mitigate the financial risk of offering healthcare services to the less affluent?

A: The only way we can mitigate such risk is by establishing our clinics and hospitals in strategic locations. We are planning to launch our model in Colombia, Peru and Mexico simultaneously and I truly believe it will be a great project. This brings us back to the fourth indicator of the WHO, which is a timely healthcare system. People should receive medical attention whenever and wherever it is required and in reality many Latin American countries still do not have the infrastructure in place. The WHO indicators relate to an effective system and I would say the system that exists today is relatively ineffective. However, if properly implemented, the five indicators would help to transform Mexico’s healthcare system, which includes its three levels – private, social security and the base of the pyramid.

Q: What is next for Grupo Vitalmex in terms of expansion?

A: We are also exploring possibilities in Germany and the Scandinavian markets. We aim to collaborate in developing useful healthcare systems across the globe and our company has the experience and knowledge in healthcare to benefit our stakeholders. We are undergoing a process of vertical and horizontal integration to become one of the main healthcare service providers for the bottom of the pyramid, as poverty is still a relevant issue in Latin America. We have before us a solid opportunity to increase access to healthcare services through our clinics.