salauno is a health care social enterprise specializing in eye care for the poorest and most marginalized segments of society in Mexico.
Geographic Area of Impact: Mexico
Model: Social business
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 34,115 (2013)
Annual Budget: USD $2.28 million (2013)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 83% (2013)
The Social Problem
Visual impairment is the second largest cause of disability in Mexico. Around 67% of all blindness cases are due to cataracts, with an estimated two million untreated cases and 700,000 blind eyes. Despite cataract surgery being the most cost-effective surgical procedure in healthcare, Mexico has the lowest cataract surgery rate in the OCED. Only 1,750 surgeries per million people are performed each year, substantially below the World Health Organization’s acceptable minimum rate of 3,500. Unfortunately, due to an aging population and to the increasing impact of diabetes, the number of cataract cases is expected to rise.
Innovation and Activities
salauno was created in 2011 as a for-profit enterprise with a social mission. Its innovative business model based on operating efficiency, high patient volume and cross-subsidies enables salauno to provide superior quality eye care to populations living at the bottom of the pyramid. Consumable supply, doctor & nurse education and integration with public, private & non-for-profit institutions fuse a value chain that breaks paradigms to transform the Mexican health system. By 2013, the clinics had already developed the capacity to see 3,400 outpatients and perform 460 surgeries every month.
salauno has replicated and adapted best practices of the Aravind Eye Care model providing affordable surgeries to low-income segments, based on an all-inclusive business model, which optimizes resources to ensure low-cost but high-quality patient care. It screens potential patients, provides transport to its hospitals, and deploys skilled professionals at each stage, thereby optimizing the use of “highly skilled” resources — its doctors. Doctors can focus 100% of their time on the actual surgeries and become extremely efficient as they eliminate basic tasks that are performed by other professionals. Today, salauno surgeons perform five times more surgeries that the average ophthalmologist in Mexico.
salauno visits marginalized communities two times per week screening for cataract in elder populations. Thanks to its alliances, both the screening and the appropriate treatment are provided for free to people without the ability to pay. However, it is also important to note that salauno’s model allows for its medical bills to be on average 40% below the market price, disrupting the current medical system in the region. The hospital has received 72,000 patients in 3 years. Only last year, it tripled the number of beneficiaries assisted, with more than 84% of them earning less than $899 per household. To date, salauno has performed more than 7,400 cataract surgeries, over 10,000 eye treatments, and around 17,000 free consultations in marginalized communities.
After several years of work in investment banking and private equity, Javier Okhuysen and Carlos Orellana decided to apply what they had learned in the world of high finance to a business of their own. One that combined their money-making acumen with a social mission: restoring people’s sight. In 2012 CNN Expansion, a top Latin American business magazine, named them Entrepreneurs of the Year, in 2014 they won the “National Entrepreneur Award” offered by the President of Mexico.
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