José Luis Elizondo
Founder and Partner
Wellmedic Health Centers
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View from the Top

Consolidating the Medical Tourism Hub Of The World

By Andrea Villar | Fri, 09/18/2020 - 10:25

Q: How is Wellmedic Health Centers’ Riviera Maya project going?

A: Two years ago, we bet on a medical tourism development in an area that today is recognized as the tourism destination that consolidated Mexico as the seventh-most visited country in the world. At Mayakoba City, in the Riviera Maya, we are building a health cluster in the middle of the jungle with an investment of MX$500 million (US$25.5 million). Some industry people told us we were getting ahead of ourselves but at the World Medical Tourism Congress in Abu Dhabi, we had the opportunity to understand and confirm the global interest in medical tourism.

This sector is the combination of two huge industries. However, to ensure a proper operation, we must understand what comes first, health or tourism. We chose the Riviera Maya because of the tourism power it already has in Mexico. There are other medical hubs in Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara that have more medical infrastructure than Cancun or Playa del Carmen. But this project will target the international market, which means location is vital. Nuevo Leon receives a tenth of the tourism of Mexico City and 1 percent of Cancun’s tourist arrivals. There are more foreigners in Cancun than in Mexico City.

Two years ago, Terminal 4 at the Cancun International Airport was completed. That put the Cancun airport at the same level as Mexico City’s in terms of size. Today, Cancun receives direct flights from 350 airports globally, including Toronto, Istanbul, Dubai, Moscow, Buenos Aires and Cairo. It is a natural connection to many places and opportunities.

Q: What will your development include?

A: It has 15,000m2 of construction in three towers. The first is a medical tower with seven operating rooms and will focus on cosmetic and bariatric surgery, traumatology, fertility and ophthalmology. Another tower will house a hotel with 30 boutique rooms to provide world-class attention to patients who can enjoy their recovery with the highest global standards. Our last tower will be focused on wellness.

Each element in our development was conceived with a corrective medicinal or preventive medicinal approach. Our offering includes rehabilitation and nutrition and we will have restaurants and kitchens where people can take classes on how to eat properly. We bet on digitalization and with this tool, we will give the international market real wellness options, which people sometimes confuse with yoga. 

Q: What other markets do you want to reach with the other projects you have throughout Mexico?

A: We have three levels of service. Wellmedic Connect, which are first-contact medical offices. Today, we have three in operation in Monterrey and Mexico City. We equipped them with the highest technology in the telemedicine and videoconferencing market. These are connected to the second level, which is Wellmedic Health Centers. These are bigger units with 30 and 40 medical practices that turn into hubs for specialists. Our five-year target is to be in every state. The technology there will allow specialists such as gynecologists or ophthalmologists who depend on particular equipment to move to other states to perform surgery.  

The third level is Wellmedic Health Clusters, which are more robust projects, such as our project in Mayakoba. We will soon start a new project in Puebla with 19,000m2 of vertical construction. Puebla is not as strong a tourist destination as Cancun but there are factors that make it an interesting market, such as the growth of its population. In the long term, there will be fewer young people in the city and the largest population will be seniors. This phenomenon is global in scope and senior health is becoming a trend. Puebla is going to become the first senior health wellness center in Mexico. Our project in Puebla will have the goal of ensuring quality of life for all residents, with a healthy and independent life expectancy of 100 happy years. People will have doctors at home, customized meals, and wellness activities. Guadalajara and Monterrey will also have clusters.

Our vision is not only local but international. We have had the opportunity to demonstrate our vision to foreigners and they are always surprised. This just reaffirms that we must open our first location outside the country.

Q: What are the opportunities and disadvantages in Mexico in the medical tourism sector?

A: WHO says the deficit in specialist doctors globally is 23 million. In Mexico, there are 2.1 doctors for every 1,000 citizens, while other countries with more human capital in the medical area can have 5 or 8 doctors for every 1,000 citizens. 

Wellmedic Mayakoba can become the medical tourism hub in Mexico. Merida is also an important location since it was categorized as the safest city in the world in 2019. Furthermore, it is pure jungle so it is a blank canvas. Eighteen years ago, Dubai was pure desert. Today, Dubai and Abu Dhabi have almost 10 million citizens and 89 percent are foreigners from all over the world. Merida is in permanent development and it is easy to see that it is planned, which means it does not have to deal with the problems of cities developed under a short-term vision, like Mexico City. The Riviera Maya has the capacity to sustain itself through tourism and Mexico, given the quality of its doctors and its strategic position, has the possibility to be the medical tourism hub of the world.

 

Wellmedic Health Centers is an empowerment platform for health and wellness professionals with a 4.0 smart rental scheme. The company is building Mexico’s largest private network of telemedicine practitioners

Andrea Villar Andrea Villar Journalist and Industry Analyst