Greetings from Antigua, Guatemala and the HF Healthcare team!
Written by Michael Sahm, Amy Fan, Rachel Green, Joanna Lyons, and Carlos Sanchez
May 31st, 2018
Our client is Nasir Hospital, a private, nonprofit hospital in Sacatepéquez, Guatemala (opening October 2018) that seeks to expand access to quality healthcare services for Guatemalans. The healthcare system in Guatemala is inadequate, as providers across the country lack necessary resources to meet the healthcare needs of citizens. Nasir Hospital’s goal is to provide free care free to approximately 20% of its patients, while still making enough money to sustain operations. Our task was to design a business model which makes this feasible. Today marks the last day of our project, and we feel privileged to have worked with such outstanding people pursuing this cause.
During our trip, we visited several local hospitals and conducted over twenty interviews with doctors, patients, and administrators to better understand Guatemala’s healthcare system. Much of what we saw was eye-opening. For example, public hospitals often lack basic supplies necessary to provide services, forcing patients to purchase their own and bring them to the hospital to receive care. Furthermore, basic hygiene and sterilization pose significant challenges in public hospitals, leading to a high number of hospital-acquired infections and illnesses. These are just a few of the issues which inspired HF Healthcare to build its first hospital in Guatemala.
Our recommended business model contained several components. First, we defined Nasir Hospital’s position in the marketplace, and crafted a strategy to attract target patients to the facility. Next, we designed an operating model to make the provision of free care financially and operationally feasible. Finally, we recommended service prices and projected patient volumes to create a multi-year financial forecast for the facility. Despite working with minimal data, our interview-centered research allowed us to deliver a quality final recommendation to our client, one we hope will be instrumental to its successful operation in the future.
Life in Antigua
We have been fortunate to call Antigua, Guatemala home during our trip. Antigua is a small city approximately one hour outside of Guatemala City, and is one of Central America’s most popular tourist destinations. It is filled with bars and restaurants (which we explored daily), and is close to some of Guatemala’s best outdoor attractions, including active volcanoes, coffee plantations, and Lake Atitlan.
One of our trip’s highlights was a weekend trip to the Lake. We teamed up with the Cemaco IBD Team from Guatemala City, and stayed at a hotel in Panacachel, a small town which borders the lake. On Saturday, we rented a boat and spent the day visiting different towns all around the lake. It was a special chance to connect with classmates so far away from Berkeley!
For our second weekend, we chose to stay in Antigua. After working Saturday to participate in a worldwide fundraiser telethon for our client, we started our weekend at Antigua Brewing, where we enjoyed local beer while watching live eruptions from Volcán Fuego.
The next day, we hiked Volcán Pacaya where we roasted marshmallows in hot spots throughout the summit. We ended our weekend with dinner and souvenir shopping with the Cemaco team, who trekked to Antigua after touring Mayan ruins at Tikal National Park the previous day!
¡Hasta Luego, Guatemala!
As we conclude our project, we feel very grateful for our IBD experience, and have several things to be thankful for. First, for the chance to work on a high-impact project that we know will impact the lives of thousands of patients at Nasir Hospital. Second, to the community members in Guatemala, who were incredibly generous with their time in assisting our project work. We were fortunate to meet several high-profile guests of Nasir Hospital including congresswomen, the family of the President of Guatemala, and an ambassador for Mayan culture and welfare, all of whom recognize the hospital’s potential and are eager to help in any way possible.
Finally, to our friends at HF Healthcare, especially Majid, Patricia, Manuel, and Erick. You went above and beyond in your hospitality, and we are so thankful for your help in making our project experience and trip to Guatemala a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We are confident that Nasir Hospital will be among the best in all of Guatemala, and look forward to following your future successes!