Providing a low cost healthcare system to Mexicans, using mobile phones.
Pedro Yrigoyen wears his hair long, his shirts open necked and his jeans slightly faded. He does not look like a medical revolutionary, for a good reason: his background is in telemarketing.
Yet Yrigoyen is the focal point for what could yet prove a revolution in basic health care. The epicentre is a drab office block in a busy inner suburb of Mexico City, where a team of 20 medics, dressed in starched white coats, sit in cubicles waiting to answer phones. The medics are supported by computer systems loaded with protocols for diagnosing conditions, which have been pooled from some of the best hospitals in the world. This little call centre is the heart of a system, MedicallHome, which provides a bare bones primary healthcare system for about five million Mexicans for just $5 a month, which is paid through their mobile phone bill.
Mexico spends about 6.5% of its GDP on healthcare, well below the average for most rich countries. Access to doctors and nurses is limited, especially in poorer and rural areas. Government services are nominally free. Yet because these services are thinly spread, the cost of accessing them is very high, especially for people in rural areas who have to travel a long way to see a doctor, only to find they have to join a long queue.
MedicallHome has grown in the space created by the public sector’s failings as a way to connect people to low-cost, private health care. Two thirds of the issues that callers raise with MedicallHome are resolved over the phone, which means patients do not have to visit a doctor at a cost of at least $30 and a missed day’s work. If the doctor on the call does recommend the patient visit a doctor, have a blood test or take a treatment, then MedicallHome connects them to one of its network of 6,000 accredited doctors or 3,000 healthcare providers, in 233 cities. As Medicall refers patients in large numbers it negotiates a discount for them ranging from 5% to 50%.
Yrigoyen’s next step will be to turn MedicallHome into a marketplace accessible to people with smartphones, which will allow them to choose from and connect directly to healthcare providers. As mobile networks spread across Latin America so will MedicallHome’s solution, initially to Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
Image @ http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/
Last updated: 09th of May, 2014