Santiago Ocejo
Director General
Salud Cercana
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View from the Top

Managing Health Through Digital Aids

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 16:46

Q: What is Salud Cercana’s role in the Mexican healthcare system?

A: Salud Cercana is a digital platform that integrates health services. We are a patient-management system especially focused on patients with chronic diseases that enables middle and low-income patients to find doctors who are certified by Salud Cercana and who belong to our network. In addition, our patients can interact with nutritionists, psychologists and a special figure we call a care coordinator, a wellness authority and supportive mentor who motivates individuals to cultivate positive health choices. The lack of care coordination is one of the biggest issues in the Mexican healthcare system and there is a large amount of money wasted on the public system and out-of-pocket expenditure due to bad coordination.

Q: Salud Cercana is the first prepaid healthcare system in Mexico. What is the protocol when a client acquires the service?

A: Once patients download the app and accept our terms and conditions, they can go to any convenience store in our network or any payment center and prepay the service. After verifying the payment, the care coordinator connects with the patient and explains how the platform works and the benefits of the acquired service. The coordinator also schedules the first interview with a doctor in our network to create a clinical record. The first appointment is covered by the initial payment and after that the care coordinator will schedule a phonecall with a nutritionist and a psychologist to design a personalized plan that will then be monitored by the coordination team. Additionally, the care coordinator will be in charge of tracking all customer contacts, clinical records, doctor appointments and prescriptions, as well as laboratories and required prescriptions. Our platform has an embedded chat that patients use to ask questions, participate in forums, read relevant content and follow up on notifications with their nutritionist, psychologist and care coordinator.

Q: Who are the specific beneficiaries of Salud Cercana? How many people are already using it?

A: Right now, most of our users belong to C and D socioeconomic strata because they cannot afford this type of service. In addition, we give them a lower cost so that they can access the same platform. We have attended over 3,000 walk-in patients in our physical office and around 200 have acquired the program for the management of a chronic disease. We are also working with two companies through our B2B model, one with 6,000 clients. 

Q: What is the added value Salud Cercana brings to the Mexican healthcare system?

A: In dealing with chronic diseases, patients need behavioral changes, so we help those patients find the right professional to treat their condition. We are managers of chronic diseases. This is our priority and we would like to work with the public sector on managing its population with chronic diseases. We also want to reduce out-of-pocket expenditure on medication and coverage of chronic disease complications. Ninety percent of the population has access to public health, but 50 percent of expenditure in Mexico is out-of-pocket. Lastly, our main long-term goal is to achieve an integrated healthcare sector and we want to be the platform from which we can manage all patients health and integrate services around them.

Coordinated Health Programs

Patients With Previous Diagnosis

Q: What business models are you using for your operations?

A: Salud Cercana has a B2C and a B2B channel in which it works directly with companies. Both have the same goal: to manage patient health. In the B2C model, single users pay for coordination, nutritional and psychological support and patients can have access to doctors at discounted prices. They pay MX$900 (US$50) for our basic plan for a three-month process, MX$1,700 (US$94) for psychology and nutritional support and MX$2,300 (US$128) for the complete service. The price is around MX$150 (US$8) and MX$250 (US$14) a month for receiving all these services. In the B2B channel, the price varies depending on what type of coverage the company wants to offer to its workers; it might vary from MX$75 (US$4) to MX$150 (US$8) a month.

Our business models adapt to every type of company, but our main source of revenue is the care coordination program (PCS), which is the added-value we bring to the market. In the future, we want to work with insurance companies and government institutions through this service.

Q: How do you recruit talent to Salud Cercana and how do you establish the relationship with doctors?

A: We have used traditional recruiting platforms and located doctors through word-of-mouth. We have also attracted talent by networking with doctors in the private and public sector and with nutritionists and physiologists. We have to be careful in this selection process because we need to train the talent we attract on how to use our platform and how to deliver quality through the service we offer.

Average Waiting Time per Medical Visit

Q: How is Salud Cercana’s initiative contributing to the shift to preventive medicine?

A: We are focused on secondary prevention, which means we help patients who are already diagnosed with a chronic disease to access care more quickly and avoid complications. However, our platform is focused on preventive care. We also know that companies suffer when their employees get ill so we are developing preventive strategies with our B2B clients.

Q: What regulations do you follow?

A: Dealing with health data requires following regulations closely. We are careful with our terms and conditions and we have invested heavily in protecting information. COFEPRIS has also set specific guidelines for primary doctors to provide consults, so we help our doctors comply with the requirements of having a physical office, an exploratory area and gathering patient information. As a healthcare company, we are aware of legal requirements and we know how to monitor them.

Q: What are your growth expectations for 2017?

A: First, our target is to expand our network of doctors and our geographical coverage. Secondly, we want to reach 10,000 app users with PCS. Third, we will grow our network of other providers such as laboratories and pharmacies, integrating our services with theirs. We are working on agreements with labs so when our patients go to them, the labs send us the results. In the end, that follow-up is the value we provide. Our goal is to work with at least 10 companies by the end of 2017, managing both clients and patients.