Javier Aluni
Director General
CEO at Hospitalaria
View from the Top

Hospitals Joining the Medical Tourism Boom

Wed, 09/07/2016 - 13:37

Q: What opportunities can the medical tourism industry take advantage of in Mexico?

A: Medical tourism receives much interest from the government and investment as it thrives in very specific locations. Border cities tend to be very economical. Other important destinations are beach towns, so people can come for their medical procedures but also for a vacation. It all depends on your area of influence and the money you can dedicate to medical procedures. Monterrey has influence in the southern part of Texas. Hospitaria is not far from the border which makes us an attractive option for people coming by car from the southern part of the US.

Medical procedures can be expensive in the US, so when people come to Mexico the currency helps make our procedures less costly, although this depends on the procedure and the specialty that patients require. Some specialties target middle or low income families in the US. Other procedures such as aesthetic surgery are targeted at middle or high-income families. For instance, a doctor that operates in Houston and in Cancun can offer his or her patients aesthetic surgery in Cancun since it is more affordable. This is not Hospitaria’s case. All our doctors are Mexican and operate in Mexico. When we have foreign patients it is because they have searched specifically for our doctors to treat them.

It is hard to determine the number of Hospitaria patients who come to Mexico for the sole purpose of medical tourism. Hospitals and medical centers must ask their patients to indicate their place of origin to measure the number of foreign patients whom we tend to. This allows us to identify more clearly if we have a growing demand for medical tourism.

Q: What advantages does Hospitaria have over its competitors?

A: Hospitaria was created four years ago. It is an intelligent hospital, designed to provide comfort to our patients and their families. We have just received the CSG Health Certification, which is not yet mandatory. We are among the first 100 hospitals to obtain this certification, which

tells our patients we are committed to their health and safety. In nutrition we have the H Distinctive that the Ministry of Tourism awards to establishments that comply with the strictest hygiene rules regarding the management of food. It includes food preparation, storage, and delivery. We also have the Moderniza distinctive that certifies the management of food and beverages in the hospital.

We are now looking to certify our emergency department by the Joint Commission. The team uses the latest technology and we are looking for third party accreditation. In preparation, we are sending groups of doctors and nurses to train in emergency room in Mexico City. Since we will always have competition, our main strategy is to focus on three fundamental things: patient satisfaction, fair prices and family satisfaction.

Q: What problems would you say should be Mexico’s priority to overcome?

A: The biggest health issue in Mexico is the lack of preventive culture. Unfortunately, people do not go to the doctor to avoid having health issues, people go to the doctor once they are sick. That is why health campaigns are so important. We need to make people understand the importance of prevention. We have somewhat succeeded in convincing women about the importance of breast examinations, we now have to duplicate these efforts for other diseases. Hospitaria is playing its part in trying to create a preventive culture. There needs to be a shift in the way people approach prevention.

We have just opened the first urology clinic in Monterrey to prevent urinary infections. We also support the Women’s Medical Center, focused on women and pregnancy and the Cancer and the Nutrition Center.

Q: What future projects has Hospitaria planned?

A: Hospitaria’s plans include opening new specialties. We want to focus on hemodynamics, heart procedures, neurosurgery and traumatology. We want to expand Hospitaria not only in Monterrey but to many different cities of the country.