This post is part of a series of stories featuring the entrepreneurs who participated in Unreasonable Mexico’s 2015 program.


As Carlos Carreto was mowing his lawn one day, he noticed a soccer ball in his path. It distracted him, and suddenly, he felt a searing pain as his big toe got caught in the blades of the lawnmower. Suffering severe cuts, he contacted his godfather, who was an orthopedic doctor. Carreto needed to heal his injury fast because he was leaving soon for work in Chile.

His godfather did the best he could to mend his toe, gave him precise instructions on how to take care of the cuts, and told him to seek medical attention should things worsen.

Mexico has the lowest life expectancy of all 34 OECD countries. Tweet This Quote

Putting on his sock a few weeks later in Chile, Carreto noticed that his big toe was inflamed. Worried about infection, he went to the doctor as his godfather advised. The Chilean doctor wanted to know more about the injury, so he requested a Skype video call with Carreto’s godfather. Together, the two doctors determined the best course of action, and after heeding their recommendations, Carreto’s toe fully healed.

After this first-hand experience with telemedicine, Carreto later returned to Mexico determined to learn more. What he uncovered surprised him—no companies at the time were doing this in his country. He knew not everyone is so lucky to have doctors as family members or access to the kind of treatment he received, so Carreto decided to do something about it.

After reaching out to Paul Valera, a graphic designer, and Jorge Sánchez, a software engineer, in early 2014, Carreto and his two friends co-founded WeDoctors—a teleconsultation web platform and mobile app that connects patients to doctors in order to provide primary care consultations in Mexico.

Virtual healthcare platform

Graphic of the WeDoctors online platform

In 2012, Mexico achieved universal health care, and this was lauded as a big achievement for a developing country. However, access to affordable and high quality healthcare remains a pressing issue. Mexico has the lowest life expectancy of all 34 OECD countries. In 2013, Mexico spent 6.2% of its GDP on healthcare, well below the OECD average of 8.9%, ranking the country in the bottom three. Although the number of doctors per capita has risen in Mexico over the past decade, it still remains well below the OECD average.

“According to studies, for every 1,500 patients in Mexico, there are only two doctors,” said Sánchez, WeDoctors co-founder. “What motivates us is the desire to expand access to healthcare in Mexico. We really want to change the country in this area and bring quality healthcare services to all Mexicans.”

For every 1,500 patients in Mexico, there are only two doctors. Tweet This Quote

For many Mexicans, the nearest clinic could be an hour and a half away. If illness or injury strikes in the middle of the night, there is little these people can do quickly. Getting medical attention is not a convenient process.

“We’ve all gotten sick and had to wake up at 5 a.m. to go wait for an appointment,” said Sánchez. “And if they don’t get to you, you have to go back the next day. And if you do get an appointment, then you have to wait another three hours for a fifteen-minute consultation. This is worrying because you lose your whole day, and they don’t resolve your issue because there are twenty other people waiting before you, so you don’t get adequate medical attention. This is an urgent situation in Mexico.”

The WeDoctors team believes telemedicine is the best way to address this, and they have developed a simple service that is free for patients and doctors to sign up.

For many Mexicans, the nearest clinic can be an hour and a half away, making medical attention highly inconvenient. Tweet This Quote

A patient simply signs in with a name and email address and fills out a few questions about their medical history to serve as a benchmark. Then, the patient can search for doctors in a number of ways—including by location and specialization—and access their full profiles. The platform notes which doctors are online, in case of emergency.

Once the patient chooses a doctor relevant to their particular situation, a notification is sent to the doctor that they have been requested. If the doctor chooses to accept the request, the patient receives a request for payment upfront. Once the patient pays, WeDoctors allows the two parties to connect via a video call. The doctor can then access the patient’s medical records that were provided in the initial signup questionnaire. If needed, the doctor can write an electronic prescription and send it to the pharmacy closest to the patient.

Virtual Healthcare

Graphic depicting the full WeDoctors ecosystem, from doctors to pharmacies to patients.

“More than anything, we want patients to know that WeDoctors finds trustworthy, quality doctors who will give them the best care,” said Sánchez. The team created a rating system for patients to fill out after each consult in order to monitor the performance of the doctors.

From start to finish, this process of signing up to finding a doctor to initiating a consultation can take as little as three minutes. Patients also have the option to schedule consultations at a day and time most convenient for them. Every time a patient has a consultation, it costs 150 pesos—approximately 9 USD. According to Sánchez, in Mexico a regular consultation can cost upwards of 1000 pesos, or just under 60 USD.

“In Mexico, you’re paying a lot of money for something that seems really simple, and then you have the wait times,” said Sánchez. “So this is a benefit we can bring to the patient—you don’t have to go anywhere; you have access to care 24 hours a day, no matter where you are.”

Telemedicine might be the best way to improve the quality of healthcare in Mexico. Tweet This Quote

The incentive for doctors to participate stems from the prospect of attracting new patients, generating a steady alternative income to their regular practice—but this time, they can do so from home or on their own time.

Currently, WeDoctors is about to launch the beta version of their platform to test the market and gather data on patient preferences. Over 100 patients have signed up as users, and they have 76 doctors ready to consult. The company is seeking to raise approximately 100,000 USD to cover costs as they carry out their pilot.

In addition to the three co-founders, WeDoctors includes Cornelio Sanchez in software development, Pablo Saenz in design and marketing, Fernanda Rossano in accounting and Anel Maldonado in design. The team is currently focusing on acquiring patients and doctors in cities with adequate Internet infrastructure, including Puebla, Queretaro, Guadalajara, Monterrey and Mexico City. But, they have big plans to expand across the entire country and become the number one platform for teleconsultation in Mexico.

“Our five-year vision is to have a million users and more than just an online presence,” said Sánchez. “We want to install kiosks throughout the country, especially in rural areas. We want to serve the whole country, offering everyone the healthcare services they deserve.”

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About the author

Brittany Lane

Brittany Lane

Brittany is the global editor of Unreasonable.is, which exists to drive resources and value to entrepreneurs around the world solving big f*$ckin' problems. She believes lasting change happens at the intersection of entrepreneurship and empathy and that good storytelling can move mountains.

  • Todd Smith

    Brittany, great article. I had my first experience with telemedicine last year about this time, when I was sick while attending with my company at an accelerator in San Francisco. Being far away from home (and out of my coverage network), this was a great alternative, and inexpensive as well (not much more than a copay to my family doctor back home). I found out after I got home that I had pneumonia in one lung, but the telemedicine doc at least enabled me to finish out at the accelerator and get home safely, before I got Xrayed and diagnosed.

    As it relates to developing markets that are underserved, such as Mexico, this sure could be a huge boost. And, it could provide a boost in revenue for physicians as well, if they are working outside of the insurance reimbursement arena. Any business model that cuts out unnecessary intermediaries (not to mention incredibly inefficient ones) is aces in my book.

  • ximena vivanco

    I’m excited to see how Mexico is growing on the entrepreneur side. I definitely do think is a smart start for simple consultations. It’s especially interesting to see how you’re ready thinking in the long term in order to reate a bigger impact, such as attracting the less fortunate such as smaller villages in Mexico. If it comes up to this I think WeDoctors can become an amazing business that can even partner of include the implementation and growth of communication and relationships through the use of the internet. When it comes to providing service to the people far away form the cities you mentioned then not only would you be starting telecommunications, but also the most simplest thing of all, online communication as it is.

  • Kelsey Eisch

    Brittany, this article was really interesting to me. My dad used telemedicine a couple years ago every time he got a sore throat or something minor. I was always so intrigued at this process because how can a doctor truly see the effects of your illness over a technological platform. I was unaware of how drastic the situation was in Mexico, and I agree with you that this is something that can improve their country drastically in the long run. Waiting around for appointments just for a simple consultation is unrealistic and can take away from that person making an income for their family that day. Also, if the doctors cannot see a patient for some time, the illness or problem may worsen for unnecessary reasons.

    Online communication is rapidly growing as people are beginning to reach out to people through blog posts, quick emails, texts, and social media outlets. This business model cuts out the complications due to transportation, time restraints, as well as the losses from not being able to do your normal days work. In Mexico, I believe this tactic could change the way people view medicine and doctors, allowing for the creation of a positive relationship with new patients. The most interesting part to me about your article was the part that discussed the wait times for patients in Mexico. I complain about waiting 30-45 min here in the USA to see a doctor that I already have an appointment for, but in Mexico, these patients are waiting days and still might not get seen. Doctors are a lot more expensive in the USA, but most insurance companies cover some of the costs. In Mexico, if this telemedicine platform can get the initial cost low, residents will chose this route over waiting to see an in person doctor for a simple consultation. The opportunity for growth in Mexico will spur new jobs as well as offer around the clock medical attention for those that do not have immediate access.

  • Andy Pfadt

    This is a great concept! My first instinct was to wish that this was a free service, but charging definitely helps to ensure quality and incentivize doctors. Furthermore by having a modest charge, it encourages people to use the service when they truly need it, preventing a backlog that could take away from it’s benefits. This seems incredibly replicable as well. Have you heard of it being attempted in any other countries?

  • Yaromil Olivares

    Very inspiring post. I loved the way these guys are tackling a public health crisis. I would love to see it expand to include some kind of intervention benefitting poor folks who can’t afford $150 pesos…maybe a buy one, give one type of initiative.

  • Preeti Sarangarajan

    Brittany, this an excellent article.I was not familiar with the topic of telemedicine before though I am sure I have engaged in it in some form or the other through informal check-ups with various family members who are experienced with medicine. I am interested to see how this develops, specifically with doctors. You mentioned that the appeal of the platform is that it would attract new patients for doctors interested in imparting advice, and they could do so at the convenience of their own homes. Do you think this is enough? Are there any political or social hurdles that might impede the progress of the app/media? You touched briefly on the universal healthcare system and how oftentimes consultations can be taxing on patients and produce fruitless results – do you think that the existing systems will allow for an efficient system like this to surge into the forefront? Maybe it’s the skeptic in me, but I feel as though unfortunate backlash may be experienced by new technology, as is sometimes the case with any kind of change that threatens existing structures. If telemedicine becomes popular, it may endanger existing practices or clinics and would perhaps create some naysayers.

    However, looking past these hurdles, the ease with which this app solves an issue that plagues Mexico is remarkable and admirable. They say an entrepreneur is always moved by an event that provides the impetus for his/her venture. I believe Carreto’s lawn mowing incident has spawned an incredible idea that can help thousands (when expanded, millions) of Mexicans. I’d be curious to see whether his platform can expand globally if it proves extremely successful within his home country. It really does shine a light on what we take for granted in America and could help numerous other countries, with or without universal healthcare systems, that struggle to ease healthcare into the homes of all, regardless of socioeconomic background.

  • dylan johnson

    I really enjoyed this article and I am excited to see technology continue to grow and help solve social problems that would normally be difficult to address. This is a great and practical idea to design a web based app that allows patients to receive immediate medical attention. I think this technique will be extremely effective for patients seeking rather simple medical attention (which is probably the vast majority of medical visits anyway) as the doctors will be able to diagnose the issue based on obvious symptoms and provide the patient with medical advice and/or a prescription that can be picked up at the nearest pharmacy. I also think it could be used to perform simple check ups and also answer any questions that someone may need answered in case of emergency. However, It seems like there will be a lot of limitations to this web camera based doctor appointment. Since the doctor will only be able to see the patience on a small screen, it will be difficult for the doctor to fully diagnose someone without physically examining the patient. They will not be able to perform most tests and will not be able to provide immediate prescriptions or other medical aides such as casts, crutches, or wraps.

    I wonder how WeDoctors plans to utilize their kiosks that they plan to install in rural areas of Mexico. What will these kiosks include? I also am curious as to how many doctors will work at each kiosk because it seems like they will become incredibly busy since there are no other clinics in many of these rural areas. Also, where do they plan hiring doctors from to come station in a kiosk in rural Mexico? There must be some enticing incentives for doctors to want to make this big of a change. Finally, are the kiosk’s economically feasible in a regions that are predominately in poverty? The web based system seems much cheaper to operate than the kiosks they plan to install.

  • Evan Johnson

    Hey Brittany, I really enjoyed the article and love that telemedicine technology is starting to be adopted on an international scale. It seems to be such an incredibly ingenious idea to provide flexible and near instantaneous access to clinician for populations who have historically faced enormous barriers to accessing competent healthcare. For many simple, primary care and preventative treatment issues, this entrepreneurial venture can provide an incredibly affordable option for Mexican citizens who struggle to access care due to either geographical location or financial ability to afford such care. I’m impressed that the venture already has 76 clinicians willing to participate in the service and it seems to be off to a good start.

    However this being said, I do see a number of barriers WeDoctors will have to overcome in order to be successful. Right off the bat, the lure of the service may also be its greatest downfall. The affordability it provides its patients also means drastic reductions in revenue for healthcare providers. Will it be possible to hire enough clinicians to properly scale this business to one million patients while charging only 15% of the traditional cost of the visit? Even entertaining the argument that physicians save on capital costs (cost of property, utilities, etc.) I find an 85% reduction in overall revenue (not to mention the profit WeDoctors itself will take) might reduce physician payment so drastically that there will be a massive struggle to attract enough doctors. Even assuming you can maintain typical physician to patient ratio of 1:750, you will need well over 1000 doctors willing to accept these reduced payments to achieve WeDoctors 5 year goal.

    Also one other major barrier with telemedicine is the obvious inability to touch a patient. While some type of care is better than no care, the ability to touch and physically examine a patient is an important diagnostic tool in many cases. The elimination of this tool may limit the care a primary care physician may be able to provide.

    Lastly, I see the scalability to rural populations to be a very difficult feat if WeDoctors wants to expand throughout Mexico and Latin America at large. While the idea of a kiosk was discussed, there are still many issues with this approach. What about areas where electricity is limited? If a satellite internet connection is used, what happens when the weather is overcast? Who will ensure the upkeep of such rural kiosks? If a patient does receive care at a rural kiosk, how do they receive their prescribed resources (i.e. if they need a prescription medication how do they receive it?).

    Ultimately, I think fantastic idea that can offer the ability to expand access to healthcare and create an affordable alternative to traditional treatment options. There will be numerous obstacles they face to fully implement their product and achieve national scalability, but I believe with enough determination and tenacity, Mr. Carreto may very well accomplish his goal. I’ll be watching this corporation throughout the next few years to monitor their progress.