Read the Conversation

EF: If health had a Healthcare worldwide conference like COP26, what would be your message to world leaders?

PC: There have been significant changes in the world's health since the pandemic, and there must be a discussion about health systems adapting to the new times. Today, health is relatively globalized and we depend on the global infrastructure for support, medicine delivery, and the supply chain that covers hospitals from suppliers across the world. We need hospitals prepared to cover the new and changing ailments and diseases that keep appearing. The attention of patients is vital to hospitals, and globalization has had both a positive and a negative impact. The cost of health has risen as it involves importing many products we don't have in our local supply chain, and this is an area which must be developed.

EF: Did you introduce new KPIs to adapt to the changing health scenario?  

PM: Managing our inventory is fundamental. We are a big hospital and supply our patients and other hospitals. The proper stock management translates into high-value service to the community. We need each other, and community solidarity is a lesson learned from the pandemic; our protection is the community's protection. We have a strong team working with the doctors, managing inpatient hospitalizations, drug supplies, medical material, and nurse personnel. All health institutions are suffering from a lack of personnel due to the contagion and isolation of staff. Without an adequate chain supply or personnel, we cannot provide a continuous and proper service to patients. We have learned to be prepared and to have stock that will cover any contingency, such as the supply of medicines, security equipment, even food stock, and we are ready for any eventuality. We have learned from this crisis as we have learned from crises before, in Mexico, mainly seismic crises. We strive to be at the forefront and provide a prompt response to the community.

PC: When the last pandemic occurred in the early 1900s, half the world was seriously affected, which was not the case this time with technology on our side. Technology allows us to be a step ahead, and our system gives information on pandemic numbers. We had instances where infected personnel worked from their homes to attend inventory and supply issues working with our computer administration system for control and statistics. We had information on what would happen two or three weeks in advance, which helped ensure stock to address Covid and other diseases, an exercise in preventive medicine regarding medication.

EF: What would be your message to business leaders planning to invest in health services in the country?

PC: It is essential to listen to the client –in our case, the patient- by listening to our patients and our community we can get a clear idea of what they want, as they will gradually tell us what we need to know. The client determines the requirements of every service we offer. We have to pay attention to their suggestions or information because we will be successful only if we meet their expectations. Doctors and physicians are vital, and they want more technology, better installations, or specific changes to develop their work or profession.  

PM: There are two main points future health business leaders must consider: i) change is a constant: The demands of the doctors, clients, and patients will change over time -what they needed five years ago is not what they need today, and ii) training is crucial, we cannot move forward or give the best service without adequate training. Our responsibility is to have trained personnel and provide answers; we will not prosper without this.

EF: Does the doctor's generational gap present a challenge within the organization?

PM: It's a challenge, and it's becoming a strength. We have empowered the younger generation with their knowledge and preparation. When a person has more experience than learning, it's the perfect moment to work alongside somebody young, receptive, and who wants to learn, and they can turn into an extremely productive team. I believe in empowering young talent by recognizing their value and empowering their knowledge, youth, and enthusiasm because it is contagious for those around them. We are a family hospital business, and it is a huge privilege to be between the two generations. Today, our founder is 74 years old, a man with vision, and an active listener and participant in his community. His children also participate in the business, as their father allowed them to develop in their fields. Uniting each person's positive skills is vital to becoming stronger.

EF: How do you keep your team engaged, feeling they work in a great place?  

PC: We started as a very small institution, and today we have 400 employees and collaborators, but we still work on empowering all our employees. The hospital was founded on certain principles and goals, making the work ethic easier to achieve, with our people participating in all of our decisions. The director's office is in the hospital's centre, and the door is always open to everybody whether they are employees or patients. Situations are listened to and resolved, making it a great working environment.

EF: Could you elaborate on the role of health infrastructure in the Mexican economic recovery?

PM: A crisis could be a great mentor as they make us search for new solutions. My generation has been through many situations and events that have threatened businesses' stability. One of the main challenges I had in my personal experience was when we started up Almater Hospital. The construction debt was in dollars, and the Mexican peso fell drastically, making our debt in pesos extraordinary. At that time, many companies went out of business. Today there is global and generalized economic uncertainty, Mexico is no exception, and inflation makes our work even more uncertain. We have optimised our operative costs and managed to grow due to participation agreements with insurance companies. We are aware that people stop paying for their health insurance during an economic crisis, so we have created value propositions to find a solution for the health sector and service providers to have more stability. With more stability, those employed can create economic spillover in the city, thus generating a virtuous circle. Many medical supplies are put together in Mexicali and sent back to the country that ordered them. It is Pablo's and my responsibility that no patients needs go unanswered, which helps have more patients allowing for more stability. Our operations costs must be low; we must focus on existing even if the margins are against us. Equipment bought five years ago in some cases cannot be used any longer because their inputs are no longer made, and we must replace the equipment despite not having recovered the investment. We engage in market surveys to continue acquiring cutting-edge technology for the people of Mexicali not to have to go to other cities to have their medical studies. We are committed to our city and its community -to be there for them and grow.  

EF: What is the role of technology in México?

PC: The technology in our hospital has changed a lot over the years, especially in the operating theatre. We have high-resolution equipment now and much better technology in the short term. For example, we now have an endoscopic camera, and that technology did not exist in Mexico twenty years ago, nor people trained to operate that technology. Being a border town, we have an advantage over other Mexican cities, being close to California -a very significant economy in technology- which allows us to bring in cutting-edge technology easier and sooner. As a country, Mexico must give access to these technologies and financial help in buying the equipment as it depreciates over ten years, while the different technologies are renewed every three to five years, making it hard for a company to invest. We have to be very creative to bring in and make available the different technologies for the various procedures and be economically viable for the business. It is a challenge, and in our case, we dilute the cost of these investments over the other services we offer to be competitive and grow. The best tool we can buy is technology as it reduces hospitalizations which also help insurance companies reduce costs and benefits everyone in the health value chain. Some of our physicians travel to the US for training and conferences on new technologies that come out every year. They are up-to-date with US standards for treating the different ailments and procedures we later do here at the hospital, such as endoscopic treatments and procedures for different specialities. They have the advantage of training in the US, which other cities in Mexico don't have, not to mention access to permits to bring in equipment through customs values that we get first as we are a border city.  

EF: What skillset do you look for when hiring new talent for the hospital?  

PC: We look for a mentality that is open to change and for excellence in patient service; they are not a good fit for our hospital if they are unwilling to give our patients the best treatment. We want people prepared to work hard, ready to learn, and with developed soft skills to join the work environment of our institution.

February 2022