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Summer Internship Series: Alum Connects Colombians With Health Care

October 27, 2015

By Adam Beyer

In some regions of Colombia, low-income people who need to see a medical specialist wait three to six months, and pay a high cost for care that is often low-quality.

One startup company is seeking to change that.

Duke Sanford School of Public Policy graduate Felipe Magofke MIDP’15 spent his summer in Colombia working with Bive, a health care membership service that provides low-income workers and their families with faster and cheaper access to medical care.

A Bive subscriber receives a membership card that covers them and five other family members. Through negotiated agreements with private hospitals and health providers, participants are guaranteed an appointment with a specialist within seven days and reduced costs of up to 60 percent.

Many of Bive’s members are coffee-growers from the city of Manizales where the company was originally based. Manizales is a four-hour drive north of the country’s capital, Bogota.

So far, it boasts more than 3,000 subscribers. Combined with the five additional people who can access services on each subscription, it is providing faster and cheaper medical care to approximately 15,000 Colombians.

Magofke had planned to help Bive refine its process and expand into new regions but upon arrival, he found leadership conflicts stifling its progress. He decided to place the other tasks on hold and work to help fix the organizational problems.

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  • Photo of Magofke with his partners at Bive.

    A part of the team.

    Felipe Magofke MIDP'15 (bottom right) worked with a Colombian health care start-up called Bive, which provides poor residents quicker and more affordable access to specialists. 

“I have a background in business and I combined that approach with what Sanford taught us in terms of stakeholder analysis and understanding the policy and cultures … in Colombia,” Magofke said. “It helped me contribute a lot to Bive.”

Ultimately, they were able to reassign some employees to better define the company’s leadership roles and get back to implementing the expansion plan. The experience gave him a broader understanding of what it takes to put policy into action.

“In the field, things can be different than we see in the readings,” Magofke said. “Doing the analysis by yourself brings a lot of benefit and much better understanding of the real problems.”

The work he did with Bive is something he could envision doing long term.

“One of the main things I gained was the consulting part, being able to help people and bring them the knowledge we learned in Sanford, seeing the impact on them it was a great reward,” he noted.

His time consulting with the startup was coordinated by Innovations in Healthcare, a nonprofit organization founded in partnership with McKinsey & Co. and Duke Medicine in 2011. The nonprofit connects and supports socially minded health care entrepreneurs around the world. Magofke worked with the group after his graduation and is developing guidelines for how social entrepreneurship start-ups can best collaborate with governments.

Follow Felipe Magofke on Twitter @fmagofke or connect with him at www.about.me/fmagofke.

View related article by Felipe Magofke: http://www.innovationsinhealthcare.org/bive-healthcare-and-pablo-neruda’s-“sunset-factory”/