Carlos Septien Michel
General Corporative Director
Grupo Diagnóstico PROA
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View from the Top

Leading Diagnostics Chain Eyes Expansion

Wed, 09/09/2015 - 15:13

Q: How would you describe Grupo Diagnóstico PROA’s position in Mexico? What are your plans as its new director?

A: As clinical analysis and imaging laboratories, we are market leaders. We have 200 branches in seven states in Mexico which makes us leaders in terms of coverage and we plan to continue to broaden into other regions. This expansion is part of our organic growth and will be performed through a complete analysis of the area and optimization of logistics for sample handling and transportation and will require modification of our business practices to adapt. We are also anticipating inorganic growth, through acquisitions and alliances with laboratories in the region and we are seeking access to large populations that we can service through our current structure. At this point our expansion plans are limited to Mexico, with a view to growing at a rate of 20 branches per year. As Director, I am currently focusing on optimizing internal controls and processes allow us to become more efficient and reduce our operation prices. This will help us to handle our planned expansion and to provide integral services for our patients and physicians, as well as working within the medical community to provide better services and foster collaborative growth. We also want to provide added value in the form of genomic tests, more advanced systems, and more specialized studies, while maintaining our position at the forefront of the sector.

Q: How would you describe the Mexican market for diagnosis?

A: We perceive that Mexico has a lot of potential for growth in the diagnostic sector, mainly in preventive diagnosis. At this point the country needs to improve its infrastructure and provision of raw materials for molecular and genetic diagnosis in order to be better equipped and to nationalize testing. We as service providers have an opportunity to perform tests targeted at diseases that are currently growing in the population. Laboratorio Medico del CHOPO provides these tests at affordable prices which is beneficial for the health sector as a whole as it lowers the general costs of medicine and creates greater accessibility. We are complementing this by providing access to state of the art equipment through escalation of costs which allows us to offer more competitive prices. A larger volume of tests will gradually increase our efficiency, and as the general population begins to be more aware of preventive measures to safeguard health we will be able to lower costs by making our systems more efficient. Personal economics will also play a part in our growth. Our challenge within the sector is to develop methods for providing necessary tests at affordable prices. Other laboratory chains are entering the market and we welcome competition since we believe that clients provide indirect feedback about the quality of services when choosing a provider. The challenge is to implement the necessary internal infrastructure to be able to satisfy client needs, especially since customers are becoming increasingly demanding and aware of consumer rights.

Q: Is Grupo Diagnóstico PROA working with the public or the private sector?

A: We are working with both. In the case of the private sector we are implementing several strategies, such as provision of services to insurance policies for major and minor health expenses. By increasing these collaborations, insurance providers are able to offer these products to their clients and optimize the cost-benefit ratio of their policies. Furthermore, the public health sector is becoming increasingly saturated so it is becoming increasingly necessary to provide competitive services to care for these patients. Grupo Diagnóstico PROA is also collaborating with the public health sector, which has plans to subrogate some services such as hemodialysis, diabetes treatments, and laboratory management. As the government has limited services and the population’s healthcare needs keep increasing, it is becoming more necessary to outsource to third parties from the private sector that can match these needs. We aim to generate mutually beneficial collaboration strategies with the government and as the population expands, so will the need for these services.

Q: Do you believe there is a growing interest on prevention on the general population?

A: Yes, I believe there is a growing awareness on preventive care and individuals are becoming increasingly aware of the implications of preemptive healthcare. The government is also implementing prevention campaigns such as “Chécate, Mídete, Muévete” and Grupo Diagnóstico PROA is allocating more funding to advertising in anticipation of growing demand. Our goal is not to create alarm but to generate awareness of the many types of tests available to the public, including genetic tests that will allow the mapping and prediction of potential susceptibility to certain diseases. We already offer genetic tests and, while these are still relatively few in number, we are planning to promote this area. These tests are expensive and by performing them on a large scale we hope to lower prices.

Q: What areas of diagnostics are you planning to expand?

A: We plan to expand our imaging services to provide greater value to both our patients and the medical community and we are actively incorporating telemedicine into our practices to optimize our timescales and coverage. Some of our equipment already incorporates telemedicine software and automatically sends data to physicians in real time upon completion of tests. We are also increasingly using the internet to electronically mail test results to doctors and patients and we have a cellphone app which allows results to be downloaded onto a smartphone. These services will greatly benefit rural areas by utilizing large networks. Another growing market trend is the automation of devices, which we are already incorporating into our laboratories. We are currently working with several institutes of health on several tests to analyze the human genome. At this point, the most common DNA tests are paternity tests, which have been used for many years. We are also collaborating with universities and we have a scholarship program as we try to maintain relationships with future medical professionals. We are currently collaborating with Universidad La Salle, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM), the National Council for Professional Technical Education (CONALEP), the National Evaluation Center for Higher Education (CENEVAL), and the National College of Colposcopy Education and Research.

Q: Does Grupo Diagnóstico PROA have any certifications? How important are they for the sector?

A: Certifications are extremely important for us as they provide the certainty that we are implementing international standards for our clients. We cannot overstate their importance in terms of patient safety and security, especially with the growing public awareness of quality standards within the medical industry. Our advantage is our capacity to perform a large number of tests with high quality and thus have lower unit operation costs, whereas smaller laboratories may have trouble obtaining these certifications as these will raise operational costs.