Monterrey Cluster Connecting StakeholdersSat, 09/05/2015 - 12:53
Q: Where does the health cluster fit within the Monterrey cluster network and what are your main goals for the development of the industry?
A: The council aims to connect the government, private industry, and academia, to promote a joint contribution to the common cause of growing Monterrey’s economy. Each of the three players has a particular role, with the government identifying the most important sectors for the economy, and deciding how each one needs to grow. The private sector is highly effective in developing the best human capital. Finally, academia offers training and development in areas where our people are lacking skills.
Q: How do you aim to attract greater participation in the cluster among health companies in Monterrey?
A: The cluster consists of committees that focus on different issues including innovation, development planning, competiveness, strategic infrastructure, human resources, and transparency. All companies have a vested interest in these areas, which draws them in on a motivation not exclusively tied to profit. Cost-effectiveness is one challenge for industry participants, since involvement costs money in the short term, and companies are unsure how to allocate personnel to the cause and in what way their hours should be funded. In Europe, the attitude to competition among companies in the same sector is healthy and collaboration is accepted as being important. For us competition fears have been more difficult to overcome. Since this experience of working together is new for many Mexican companies, we need to convince the industry to collaborate and to share information. Much knowhow is shareable without revealing trade secrets, and in areas such as medical tourism that can benefit the whole region, people are more willing to share.
Q: To what extent do you collaborate with the government to promote medical tourism and how much of a priority is this area?
A: The government is focusing on attracting investment but we are competing with the automotive and aviation industries, which are creating a lot of employment in Nuevo Leon. We also compete with other states for investment and so reaching the ideal 1:1 ratio of public to private investment is a challenge. The government may at a later date set out an overall template for the sector, but it is not a current priority. However, the opportunities are there. With approximately 20 million underinsured US citizens, our hospitals are in demand, all the more because our prices are one third of the prices in the US, while our services are often better. We also find that patient-doctor relations in Mexico are very pleasant, as here physicians really make the time for their patients, seven days a week.
Q: What is the perception of the hospital network in Mexico from a medical tourism perspective?
A: We did have issues for a number of years concerning security. In the last 18 months, calm has descended however. During the difficult times, our hospitals saw a drop in new patients. When I was president of the health cluster I formed a new committee for security and protection, uniting all the security personnel of the cluster hospitals. Security issues had in fact caused some hospitals to lose their global certifications, which are important for attracting international patients. Initially it was difficult to convince hospitals to pay fees for accreditation after the drop in foreign patients entering the country, but since the security situation has changed, we have once again turned to examining US health policies and what they mean for medical tourism. Our own national accreditation is now equal to international accreditations, lifting our standing to the same level of quality as the US.
Q: How accessible is information for potential patients looking at Mexico as a destination for surgery?
A: We have established a website listing all of the hospitals in our cluster, promoting the specialized procedures associated with each. Patients can shop around based on the surgery they need, be it bariatric, cardiac, spinal, or aesthetic. Unfortunately, we have no key performance indicators to show which hospitals have the best results for each procedure. However, our hospitals have different factors which mark their unique expertise. For some, technology is their strongpoint. For others, their facilities and treatments are above-par. It is also important to know how the insurance companies’ policies cover some procedures more comprehensively.