How this Vital Station is motivating Nicaraguans to care about their health

Philips Foundation icon
Mar 07, 2019
By the Philips Foundation team
Meet Marcos Lacayo, a social entrepreneur who is changing the way Nicaraguans think about their health, one shopping mall at a time.
Accelerating Healthcare Access

Strategically placed in a main intersection hallway in a mall in Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua, there is a green and white booth that looks like it might take your photo.  What it actually takes is your blood pressure, temperature, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, vision information, and weight. ​
 

Estación Vital, founded by Marcos Lacayo Bosche, provides these services either free of charge or at very low cost, as part of a concentrated effort to shift Nicaraguans' approach to their health from reactive to proactive.

Even when they have symptoms, people in Nicaragua tend to play them down, taking them as normal or just as an occasional episode

Marcos remembers a visitor to one of their kiosks who hadn’t been to a doctor in about 10 years. She thought she was healthy, but the machine revealed troublesome numbers for cholesterol, glucose, and weight and recommended that she should consult a doctor. When she did, she found out she had early stage cancer.
One shopping mall at a time

As of January 2019, about 60,000 users have received 273,000 evaluations through Estación Vital.' By collecting additional demographic information at the kiosks, Marcos also found out that only 20 percent of their users have health insurance of any kind (private or public). In that context, the kiosks are helping to fill a very wide gap in healthcare availability and usage.

 

"The kiosk is a magnet that offers you free services, creates a profile and, based on that, offers you a bunch of paid services," says Marcos. "That mix makes it sustainable and allows us to offer access also to those who cannot pay anything." ​

 

The future looks bright for Marcos Lacayo, Estación Vital, and the health of Nicaraguans. Next year, Estación Vital will install five more kiosks in Nicaragua. Marcos also plans to offer low-cost health and life insurance and to add a membership program which will give access to many more health services, including appointments and home-care.

 

More services can easily be added to each kiosk in the future and the model has the potential to be replicated across Latin America. Expanding to other Central American countries is also part of the plan, with the aim of having 40 to 50 kiosks up and running in five years outside Nicaragua.

Collaborate and accelerate


Along with our AHA! program, Ashoka Fellows and Philips can explore how they can work together by leveraging their complementary strengths, with the goal of reducing health inequality and building more sustainable and durable access to healthcare.