ABC Medical Centre redefines the concept of private healthcare

ABC Medical Centre is proving that private medical care can benefit the whole of society

  • By Nancy Stich, Director of Public Relations and Marketing, ABC Medical Centre | Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

ABC Medical Centre's facilities are cutting-edge, equipped with skilled staff and modern machinery

This year, ABC Medical Centre celebrates 130 years as a leader in healthcare and patient safety, while retaining the philanthropic essence that gave rise to our institution. In the context of this anniversary, we are very pleased to have been recognised as Best Healthcare Provider 2016 by The New Economy, because that tells us that we’re doing things well. An award is a guide indicating that our boat is heading in the right direction, even if we haven’t yet reached port. In other words, it’s a model to follow and to motivate us as we continue our journey; it’s gratifying, but we need to continue working for the health of our patients.

To continue on this path, first of all we need to retain the essence of our institution, because ABC Medical Centre continues to be a not-for-profit private assistance institution (institución de asistencia privada, or IAP), which means we reinvest our surpluses in education, research and charitable clinics, for the benefit of the community, offering medical care with high standards of quality to people in vulnerable economic situations.

ABC Medical Centre is committed to providing health services to those who need them, which is why we have an economic model that allows us to treat both those with resources and those without them; both sectors represent patients, so the services need to be exactly the same.

Day in and day out, we reaffirm our commitment to our patients, to the community and to the training of medical specialists. Towards this end, seven percent of our surpluses are directed to helping economically vulnerable groups through civil associations and providing medical care.

Reflections through time
An institution with 130 years of history needs to pause to reflect and assess its path. Times are different now – medicine today isn’t the same as it was two centuries ago, but we must not lose sight of the institutional mission. Perhaps we need to adapt processes to what is done today, but without losing sight of the philanthropic essence that gave rise to ABC.

Our philanthropic essence is not only found in our assistance programmes, but in the board of trustees of the institution. The board is comprised of 18 members, organised in committees: five members are of UK origin, five from the US, five Mexicans and three from the international community. They are responsible for enriching corporate knowledge and for the executive decision-making that has made ABC the institution of excellence it is today.

We have an economic model that allows us to treat both those with resources and those without them; both sectors represent patients, so the services need to be exactly the same

This commitment of the board, not only to the institution, but to the health of the country, is what has allowed ABC Medical Centre to endure over time, evolving through the decades, keeping us at the forefront and promoting better education for physicians.

Practicalities and philosophies
One of our pillars has always been education, which is why we have 15 residency specialties and 12 high-specialty graduate programmes. In addition, we want our doctors to get the best scores on the national residency exam in their specialty and be in the top 10 percent of the practice nationwide through our simulation centre, which provides physicians with hands-on practice in surgery and specific procedures, in order to improve the skills necessary to reduce risks during surgery.

However, medical education is not enough; having the best physicians and a well-trained group of nurses gives any hospital a competitive edge, but as a complement to this, physicians must also be educated in values. If we only teach medicine, they’ll learn the science of the profession; the challenge is to teach them to balance this science with universal principles. In this way we will be training professionals in the broadest sense of the word.

This is why at the Monterrey TEC-ABC School of Medicine we promote not only medical education, but also the teaching of the values ABC physicians must possess. When students arrive at the TEC, we need to get involved and say that, yes, a career in medicine involves knowledge of anatomy, biology, chemistry and diagnostics, but it also involves values, because whether you’re an accountant, architect or carpenter, values are universal and unchanging. What private healthcare students will ultimately practice in their area of specialty may be different from what they learn; society is always changing and there are always new diseases. Patients will demand an efficient cost-benefit balance in services, and the difference will lie precisely in the healthcare professional’s framework of values.

In this way we are training physicians of the future, because our commitment to our patients is to continue as the leading health institution in Mexico for at least 130 more years. It’s very important for us to continue to innovate with new medical technologies, participate in more research programmes and engage in new channels of communication. This is the way to maintain our vision and to continue with our mission as an institution.

Nursing matters
The other part of the equation is nursing, which increasingly has become an important part of medical practice, and thorough patient care now depends on quality nursing provision. The difference between one hospital and another is often its nursing staff. Precisely for this reason, ABC Medical Centre is seeking recognition as a Magnet Hospital, which will help us better manage the hospital.

The Magnet model promotes professional development, shared decision-making, innovation and a compensation plan, which, at the end of the day, will generate loyalty in the group. So, ABC Medical Centre will become one of the best options for professional development in nursing as well as aspiring to attract professionals outside the institution to join this high-standard team.

Receiving certification as a Magnet Hospital will validate our use of this nursing management model, which will allow us to improve training and development of the nursing staff, which, in turn, will ensure their work is reflected in enhanced patient safety.

The growth imperative

In the future, as the population ages, the demand for health services will increase and ABC must be prepared to meet these needs. Because we need facilities that are adequate in size and investment in equipment, we’re going to have a new campus, in addition to those we have in Observatorio and Santa Fe.

Upgrades have also been discussed. The Observatorio Campus had two options: to close and leave the facilities to the Mexico City government to open a hospital there, or find a way to expand. Fortunately, we were able to purchase several properties adjacent to the facilities, allowing us to expand, upgrade medical equipment and increase areas that were in need of growth due to demand.

Growth is about square metres. It’s about beds, investments and facilities. ABC Medical Centre will be ready with an installed capacity so that, when demand takes off, we can treat more patients.

In addition to this growth, very conservative management is required, because all investments require maintenance or replacement, and, due to the nature of our institution, we can’t invite investors in; everything has to be done with our own funds or with loans that have to be repaid. When you approach a » shareholder and ask them to participate, you are acquiring a very long-term liability, but when you go to a bank, you need to pay off your loan in five years, so you have to generate the resources to cover the debt and continue to provide excellent services. But that’s growth, that’s just buildings, bricks, equipment, investments, gardens and parking lots. Everything is measured in pesos and in metres.

Talent development
To be able to manage our facilities and offer high-quality medical services, a human element is required. Knowledge, values, interaction between people, and best medical practices, that’s what really makes the difference between one service and another. One element without the others would not be possible. Development of talent without growth is very difficult, and vice versa.

This institution needs to grow and develop, because once we fine-tune the formula to receive patients from different social classes in a financially sustainable model, we will have high demand and therefore we need to make very important changes in terms of talent availability.

With a third campus and more clinics planned, each entity needs to be operationally independent. The regulations need to be the same, but you can’t have executives in each area in each location. In other words, overall standards should stay the same, but each institution will have specific operational characteristics, because each one is different, from the facility to the patients using it.

The organisation we have today in 2016 does not use the organisational structure we are proposing; it has to change. We need to create a true corporation that has very specific functions that comply with regulations, rules and policies. In addition, generations to come will manage this hospital and we must, therefore, prepare them for when that time comes, because today’s executives aren’t like those that came before them.

The issue of four generations working together makes this even more complicated. The social, cultural and workplace contexts developed over time mean communication norms for Millennials, Generation X-ers, baby boomers and traditionalists are completely different.

For example, traditionalists are motivated by loyalty, which Millennials value less. While the former tended to join an organisation with long-term commitment in mind, Millennials tend to give you a chance with less focus on building a relationship over time. This means core values need to be put into place now. Earlier generations had these values in their DNA, but that’s no longer the case. Millennials need to be trained in the organisational culture required by ABC as an institution, rather than be expected to absorb such
values over time.

Our duty is to generations to come, and to this end we are building a better ABC, bringing together appropriate talent, both medical and administrative, developing it, and giving it the confidence that it deserves.

Community assistance
As part of our philanthropic mission, we have a commitment to the community at all times to continually develop new projects. The advantage of ABC and our model of social responsibility and community relations is that seven percent of revenues generated are dedicated to care for economically vulnerable communities and teaching. This seven percent is equivalent to MXN 300m. In 2016, MXN 184m will go to charitable healthcare and MXN 112m to education.

To quote CEO Alejandro Alfonso: “People trust us. They trust ABC for our commitment and service vocation. However, trust is only a part of the picture; the fact is, we have a commitment to society in general, to patient and family members, and to the authorities. So, every day we have to work at 1,000kph, because we simply can’t fail; there are no second chances when it comes to health issues.

“That’s why our commitment as an needs to grow every day, because, in the end, what we are doing is creating an institution that is not for any one group, but for all of us. In other words, this isn’t just something we envision for ABC; we want people to say the country is going to create more institutions like ABC Medical Centre. If we are an example to follow, I believe that will mean we have planted the seed and will be impacting on a better healthcare model for other institutions.”