The Business Year

Ricardo Spí­nola Sevilla

MEXICO - Health & Education

Band Together

General Director, Médica Sur

Bio

Ricardo Spí­nola Sevilla is the General Director of Médica Sur, one of Mexico’s most prestigious private hospital groups. He earned his MBA in Corporate Finance from the University of Dallas and has a BSc in Civil Engineering from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. He has served as CEO of Laboratorios Dermatologicos Darier, CFO at Merck Sharp & Dohme de México, and other senior positions at Procter & Gamble in Latin America.

You recently celebrated your 30-year history of operations in Mexico. How has the journey been? The company was created on the basis of three pillars: patient care, medical research, and […]

You recently celebrated your 30-year history of operations in Mexico. How has the journey been?

The company was created on the basis of three pillars: patient care, medical research, and medical education. We believe all three pillars are critical for patient care. Most of our physicians are researchers and teachers. Médica Sur is one of the top institutions in Mexico, including government hospitals, in terms of medical research. The first oncology center was created by Médica Sur in 1993, with the view that patients would be treated for all aspects associated with oncology, such as psychology and nutrition. That program is recognized internationally. Another example of differentiation is in the area of neurosurgery. We have a gamma knife, which is a medical device that will destroy a tumor in the head without performing surgery. It works via radiation and is a very unique system. In preventive medicine, we have 30% to 40% more tests than any other private hospital in Mexico, for about the same price or less than other private hospitals charge. Médica Sur was formed with the belief that people should have access to the best physicians, medicines, and equipment at a fair price.

How has the private healthcare industry evolved and to what extent have those gaps that existed in the industry been closed?

The private hospitals in Mexico fulfill the need for patients looking for high-quality patient care. Most of them are covered by state social security. Typically, if you have social security, you still go into the private healthcare system, because waiting times are shorter. Also, as far as the availability of equipment and treatment go, the government has a number of very nice centers, but most of them are concentrated in the big cities, so depending on where you live, you may not have access. The other factor is the evolution of insurance schemes for medical insurance coverage. Today, coverage reaches about 6% of the population. We are talking about major medical coverage and expenses, so that is close to 6 million people. There is still room for improvement.

How competitive is Mexico as a destination for medical tourism and what kind of innovations has Médica Sur brought to the market in that respect?

I think we are just starting to tap the opportunity. The opportunity lies in having Mexico as a possibility for reimbursement from Medicare. Eventually, if social security in the US accepts Mexican hospitals, that will be a huge opportunity. Right now, there is a good market, although it has been challenged by security issues, especially along the border. I think that will improve in the next few years. We will continue to focus our efforts on the quality of patient care. We are very serious about quality. Right now, we are in the process of recertification with the local certification agency. In terms of certification for medical tourism, we will be working with the Joint Commission International from the US over the next few months.

How well evolved is the medical industry’s regulatory environment in Mexico today?

In the case of medical tourism, the local government has been very supportive in terms of creating relationships and connecting the dots between the US and Mexico. In fact, we were invited by the Secretariat of Health to an event in Chicago to establish connections with insurance companies and develop them. It is also supporting the development of websites and internet activities and participating in events in the US to promote the use of Mexico City as a location. In the regulatory environment, the law changed in regard to the certification of hospitals. It changed in 2011 to be more in line with US requirements. The requirements are tighter. It is tough for hospitals to comply with the regulations, but we believe they are heading in the right direction.

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