Founded by Denis Cruz in 2007, Clinica Sim is demonstrating success by fulfilling healthcare services in a timely manner with an emphasis on quality care at an affordable price. While nearly 75% of the Brazilian population relies on public health insurance, Cruz explained that his company fills gaps in areas in which the public healthcare system cannot accommodate patients in a timely manner. According to Cruz, the public system offers excellent treatment for catastrophic or long-term care, but basic consultations may be backlogged from four months to a year. Clinica Sim allows patients access to services ranging from medical consultations in several specialties such as cardiology and eye care, lab tests, and imaging scans.
Cruz initially worked in Hospital Uniclinic, a local Fortaleza hospital, at the age of 17. He credits his parents, both physicians, for introducing him to healthcare and giving him an opportunity to learn about hospital administration in his formative years. During his time at Hospital Uniclinic, Cruz realized a lot of patients entered the hospital without private insurance, and as a result, these patients paid out-of-pocket for services. He understood that private health insurance was probably not a viable option for most people and families living on a limited income. Cruz sought a solution that could provide a service with affordable rates and quality care that could meet the needs of these patients. After a few years of working at Hospital Uniclinic, Cruz founded Clinica Sim to deliver excellent care in a financially stable manner. To enhance his business acumen, Cruz complimented his healthcare background with an MBA from Stanford University.
The concept of Clinica Sim challenged the traditional notion about delivering care; however, the company overcame obstacles to prove itself as a viable option. Cruz faced initial skepticism from patients and physicians. The doctors felt that the business model could not deliver quality care at an affordable price. Because Clinica Sim did not fit traditional means of care i.e. public service or private practice, doctors were reluctant to commit their services to Clinica Sim. Doctors expressed ambiguity about a service that did not operate as a private hospital or state-owned hospital. Patients initially were apprehensive that Clinica Sim could deliver quality care at prices that were lower than out-of –pocket expenses at a private hospital. Cruz admits that growth during the first 12 months of Clinica Sim was slow; but ‘word of mouth’ recommendations from satisfied patients to their family and friends increased visits to Clinica Sim. Also, an advertising campaign on the radio and television attracted prospective patients to Clinica Sim.
While Clinica Sim overcame early challenges, Cruz believes that the company’s location in Fortaleza serves as microcosm of healthcare delivery in Brazil. As in other cities in Brazil, Fortaleza has seen a rapid rise of middle class residents with more disposable income but not quite enough to afford private health insurance. He points out that Clinica Sim’s strength is its ability to give patients timely and affordable healthcare to those who cannot commit to a monthly health plan. According to Cruz, many residents of Fortaleza are employed on an informal basis; therefore, may people are reluctant to commit to a monthly payment for private health insurance. Clinica Sim draws upon this reality and aims to give patients access to care when they need it while also offering low fees than out-of-pocket fees at private hospitals.
Clinica Sim has positioned itself as alternative option for healthcare in Fortaleza and recently opened a three-story office with 42 medical rooms to serve patients. In July of this year, Clinica Sim plans to open an additional five clinics in the Fortaleza area. Cruz believes that delivering care in this manner can have a massive impact across Brazil, and he knows Clinica Sim must maintain its quality and efficiency if Cruz expands the Clinica Sim franchise to new geographic locations in 2015. He emphasized that building clinics in Fortaleza was a challenge, but developing a successful franchise model will have even greater obstacles. Cruz anticipates that there will be a learning curve, and to counter this adjustment, he has been developing metrics and establishing an audit department to ensure quality and consistency throughout the clinics. Additionally, he plans he recruit doctors and other medical professionals to own and operate the initial five planned clinics. Cruz is optimistic about Clinica Sim’s expansion and its potential to introduce patients to an alternative and affordable healthcare service.