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Mexico is taking eye care digitally during Covid-19

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Eye care provider Salauno has integrated telemedicine into its business model during the Covid-19 pandemic to help reach underserved areas of the country.

On September 19, 2017, a 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck central Mexico, collapsing buildings and killing more than 200 people. It happened in memory of the 1985 earthquake that destroyed the Mexican capital.

The earthquake left the city in chaos and damaged many properties, including an area near Salauno, a company that provides affordable and accessible eye care services to low- and middle-income patients that aims to give all Mexicans the ability to see good and transform them. Spirits.

The new Salauno Surgical Center – which has an area of ​​4,000 square meters and can perform 17,000 surgeries annually – has remained in good condition, but due to nearby damage, the surgical center has faced a temporary shutdown for two months.

Carlos Orellana, CEO and co-founder, said the disorder, at a later time, was a “ resilience test that gave us the ability to learn quickly and focus on any crisis, like the one we face today with Covid-19. Saluno. At the time, the team strived to find creative ways to maintain business continuity, such as moving surgeries and the company’s team to other locations while adapting the general operating model to serve the new circumstances.

Salono News Center – 4,000 square meters … can perform 17,000 surgeries per year

These preparations laid the foundation for Salauno to expand its digital offerings to serve patients exposed to Covid-19 infection.

To ensure their safety, the clinics’ physical work was suspended in late March, but Salauno soon launched a telemedicine service to identify patients in need of immediate care due to emergencies or degenerative diseases.

A few weeks after the start of the digital showcases, Salauno has already performed about 1,000 remote consultations – and that number is expected to continue to grow.

under pressure

Salauno, founded in 2011 by Orellana and Javier Okhuysen, serves an urgent need in Mexico, where blindness is the second most common disability. Diabetes affects 16% of the adult population in Mexico, and about 30% of all blindness cases in the country are caused by diabetic retinopathy. Cataracts are another common cause of blindness.

Salauno, backed by a equity investment from the International Finance Corporation, has provided eye care to more than 400,000 people and has grown from a single surgical center in Mexico City to a network of 22 diagnostic centers and one surgical center. It offers a range of services throughout the Valley of Mexico and the Metropolitan Region.

To better meet the needs of these customers, Salauno started a large-scale effort in 2016 to integrate digital and mobile solutions for greater outreach.

Now, Salauno can communicate with patients and schedule appointments using WhatsApp and an AI-powered chatbot on his website and Facebook.

The company’s shift to digital and mobile displays has accelerated due to the coronavirus outbreak. According to Oriana, the strategy for dealing with the pandemic focuses on maintaining the safety and health of patients and employees, ensuring the financial viability of companies, and “making gains” so that the company is in a strong position when the threat of the Corona virus recedes.

A digital post-pandemic model

Integrating telemedicine services into the business model once clinics reopen is central to the new strategy. This will allow Salauno to reduce the number of physical visits, gain a presence in remote areas of the country where there is practically no interest in eye care, and reduce the risk of infection.

To better cater to customers’ needs, Saluno Pegana achieved a large volume in 2016 into integrated and mobile solutions for comprehensive communication

Oriana concluded, “ The Covid-19 crisis has allowed us to transform a traditional strategy based on linear growth into a digital model that can grow exponentially, given that it is not constrained by physical infrastructure. ”

Laura Helena Nevarez has already experienced the benefits of Salauno’s digital awareness. She began to feel itching and burning in her eyes in early April – a feeling she described as unbearable. She was worried that the infection was a result of the Coronavirus.

After her family referred her to Salauno, she made an appointment for a virtual medical consultation via WhatsApp and was diagnosed with a mild case of conjunctivitis.

I am a 59-year-old woman in the middle of a pandemic. I was so worried! I felt like I lived again, Nivares said relieved.

This article was originally published by IFC in Stories of Impact, a series that explains how IFC investments are making a difference in people’s lives.

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