CEGIN was established to answer an urgent need for prevention and treatment of cervical cancer in Jujuy, a rural region of Argentina. Thanks to its innovative approach to meeting market demands, the company is able to offer health services for significantly less than private medical coverage and better quality than many public facilities. Fixed costs of providing basic healthcare are high, while the incremental cost of treating each additional patient is minimal. By providing excellent and convenient services, with extended operating hours and the best available equipment, CEGIN attracts a large volume of patients. Thus leveraging economies of scale allows the quality of the service to be maintained at a much lower cost to each patient.
CEGIN attends both patients with state medical coverage (“obra social”) and those without. It sells membership cards to the public for a small cost, registering them as CEGIN clients. With the card, a patient has access to consultations at any CEGIN centre for a reduced fee. Any treatment subsequently prescribed is either provided by CEGIN or a CEGIN partner at less than half of the normal market price or, for some illnesses, the patient may be referred to a public hospital. Patients from rural areas who are referred for treatment are either transported to the cities or treated by CEGIN specialists during their regular field visits.
CEGIN doctors are atypical and are hired on the basis of their personal integrity and moral values. They are often local and recently graduated, with experience treating patients in rural areas and a desire to break down traditional hierarchies in the medical profession. These doctors are obliged to join one 3-4 day medical tour to remote rural areas at least once a year.
CEGIN’s first health centre was founded 17 years ago in Jujuy in north-west Argentina. Today, the centre manages 130 patients a day, performs 1,000 tests for cervical and ovarian cancer and treats 500 patients per year. The profits finance the extension of health services to the poor and those in remote areas, sometimes reachable only by foot. CEGIN recently consolidated with the SER Foundation to extend access to healthcare to 40,000 people.