Mexican entrepreneur Patricio Villareal has discovered something most of those opposing health care reform in the United States could never imagine: making basic health care accessible and affordable can be a profitable business. In 1994, Patricio and his brother Ricardo co-founded Imagen Dental, a company that provides world-class dental, optical and hearing services to middle and lower income patients in Mexico’s Monterrey state at affordable prices. Since its creation, the company has grown to include 26 clinics that employ well over 200 doctors.
But since many of his patients can’t always pay immediately, Villareal co-founded Alivio Capital, a consumer credit company dedicated to helping patients secure financing for their medical needs. He says that Imagen Dental’s business model in the health care sector is similar to what Sam Walton did 50 years ago in the retail sector: bring world-class health care to the middle class.
Villareal has no intention of limiting the model he developed to Monterrey. He believes the Imagen Dental business model can succeed nationally and maybe even regionally. Entrepreneurs, he says, “will be the biggest creators of new jobs in the next 50 years in Mexico and throughout Latin America.”