The Ministry of Health’s 2012 budget will strengthen primary healthcare attention, as well
as begin the construction of 24 new outpatient centers. This focus is based on the epidemiologic reality of the Chilean population: there has been an increase in chronic diseases, the population is aging, and many primary healthcare conditions go untreated. To achieve this goal, the plan considers an increment in the number of healthcare professionals, the reconstruction of 7 hospitals, and investment in information technology for interconnected digital medical records.
The public healthcare system is comprised of 183 hospitals: 59 high-complexity, 24 medium-complexity and 100 low-complexity hospitals. In all, the public sector has approximately 26,300 beds. FONASA, the government-run healthcare insurance system, covers 75% of the population; of the remaining 25%, approximately 5% lacks any type of insurance, and 20% (bordering on 2.6 million people) pay into the private sector insurance system provided by entities called ISAPRES. There are 7 Isapres currently operating in the Chilean market.
In the private sector, there are 109 hospitals, with approximately 15,000 beds. There
are a considerable number of expansion projects and new investments currently ongoing in the private sector.
Additionally, the Universal Access to Healthcare government program, called “Plan AUGE or GES”, started in 2005, continues to benefit the population. It consists of government-funded subsidized healthcare coverage for currently 76 diseases considered to be high-incidence.
In general, there is no government-required registration imposed on medical equipment, except for nuclear medicine equipment, which does need special authorization. Medical devices have no registration requirements either, except for condoms, gloves, needles, and syringes that do need authorization/quality control assessment to certify their safety. However, pharmaceuticals do have mandatory registration that is granted by the Institute of Public Health.
Opportunities will arise with the construction of new hospitals and healthcare centers in the public sector. These will require equipment and devices. Additionally, ongoing private sector projects and new expansion investments will require furniture, equipment, and devices. The best way to participate is to appoint a local representative with good contacts in the public and private sector, and a network of sales people throughout the country.