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In Conversation With Gabriel Uguet

Gabriel Uguet Adróver (38) is the managing director of the Spanish private hospital association "Red Asistencial Juaneda". Before his call to the company´s board, Adróver had been at the helm of the Balearic Red Cross hospital for six years. His CV includes positions with several other Balearic medical organizations.

The Juaneda chief comes from Felanitx, is married and the father of two children. He has two MBA degrees – one from Barcelona´s renowned University ESADE and one from "Thunderbird" (USA).

The multi-disciplined Juaneda consists of three general hospitals (in Mallorca, Clínica Juaneda and Hospital General de Muro, plus one clinic in Menorca); seven polyclinics and 30 health centres across the Canaries and Balearics; a dental care company ("Juaneda Dental"), and nutrition control institutes ("Saniconsult"), with branches on the Canary and Balearic Islands, in Mexico and Santo Domingo. Dr. Onofre Juaneda founded the group´s first hospital in Palma in 1917.
  • Has the business philosophy changed since then?

Our values are still the same. Juaneda president Dr. Juan Alguersuari always uses the following expression: "Treat your patients the way you would like to be treated." This philosophy has made it possible to gain the confidence of the majority of private patients on the Balearics. We are market leaders and are ranked within Spain´s top 15 private health companies.
  • What´s Juaneda´s key to success?

A strong belief in quality: we put emphasis on the friendly way we attend to every client. It's one of the reasons why our publicity strapline is "We care for you" ("Cuidamos de tí"). All employees are committed to the same aims. The patients´ satisfaction is the most important goal to achieve.
  • Will the company continue to expand?

Currently our focus is on minimising the effects of the economic crisis on our medical group and on making use of opportunities in the market. Soon, we want to include new hospitals and medical centres, where appropriate, in our network.
  • Recently you took a step back . . .

Since the beginning of December 2008, we have been managing only three hospitals, because "Femenía" left the Juaneda group. This happened as part of our restructuring plan, implemented since the end of 2007. "Femenía" is part of a group of senior citizens' homes (UCO Residencias). It's destined to be transformed into an institution for long-term and chronically ill people. Our concept, however, aims in a different direction: we want to focus on outpatient attendance and surgery.
  • Are you a supervisor of the company´s day to day work?

This is not my task. I oversee the results and observations of the directors of every single institution. Firstly, this means the financial results, which are important for our stockholders and are the basis for continuous investment in the maintenance of our hospitals and medical centres. Second, I receive feedback forms from our patients. Only by carefully monitoring satisfaction levels are we capable of competing in the market long-term. Fortunately I can rely on a skilled team of board members who help me to maintain both benefits and quality of treatment.
  • Is Juaneda better than the public health system?

Spain´s "Sanidad Pública" is not as bad as many people suppose. Within the EU countries the Spanish basic medical supply is well-positioned. In a lot of instances, the same physicians work in private and public hospitals. Many citizens choose private health care, in spite of the costs incurred with extra insurances. Approximately a third of all inhabitants of the Balearics have private health insurances – a figure far above the Spanish average.
  • What are the advantages of private medical services?

We are superior to the standard treatment in at least four areas: quickness, flexibility, hospitality and innovation. There are no waiting lists and no time is lost after a diagnosis is made. A sick or injured patient can be attended by a specialist doctor, get radiography or a nuclear spin tomography, and discuss the results with the same specialist within one week. With "Sanidad Pública", it can sometimes take six months to get to that stage.
  • And the hospitality?

We offer a much more comfortable environment. Patients who have to stay under observation for any length of time in the hospital can choose a single room with an extra bed for a companion. A universal service, free of charge like "Sanidad Pública", cannot and must not offer things like that.
  • What about technical equipment?

This is another advantage of the private health companies. Some new equipment – like the "green laser" for advanced prostate surgery or Positron Emission Tomography (PET) – is only available in private hospitals. Attractive surroundings, furnishings. and the availability of the latest medical technologies add up to a higher quality of private health care.
  • What is the prospect for private health care in the Balearic market?

The future looks excellent, although there's a certain oversupply of private medical services. But the growing demands of an increasing population and an ageing society make us optimistic.
  • Are there really enough clients for all the hospitals in Mallorca?

The current economic downturn hits all kinds of businesses, but private health care is not affected as much as construction, real estate and retail trade. The oversupply I already mentioned will be equalized within the upcoming years through a growing demand.
  • Clínica Juaneda was the first hospital on the Balearics applying quality management (QM). Why?

The hospitals Clínica Juaneda, Hospital General de Muro, Clínica Juaneda Menorca and our medical centres have improved a lot thanks to QM. Thus, every service and treatment process can be supervised, coordinated and documented exactly. Every doctor and medical assistant knows what to do when and where. Every action in all departments becomes highly effective and clear. Protocols give us feedback in order to optimize the treatments.
  • Perfect teamwork is necessary.

Only by being backed by committed board members is it possible to manage a company with more than 1,000 employees on the Balearic and Canary Islands.
  • Which kinds of treatments are in most demand?

Generally we cover all areas. The strategic focus lies on surgery. At Clínica Juaneda alone,12,000 operations a year are carried out. The main medical fields concerned are trauma surgery, ophthalmology, paediatrics, cardiology, dermatology and otolaryngology. The field of anti-ageing, traditionally of high importance in Spain, has seen remarkable rates of growth.
  • How important is plastic surgery for the whole Juaneda group?

The department of aesthetical medicine is one of the core businesses of the Clínica Juaneda, regarding turnover and number of treatments. Here we are even ahead of the big Spanish hospital chains and other franchise companies for aesthetical medicine, which try to conquer the market with huge budgets for advertising. In the end, our good results over the years produce better publicity.
  • Who wants to be beautified more – men or women?

Women are still by far on top. But the demand among men is growing steadily.
  • Is there a ‘surgery tourism' on the island?

Not really. However, the bulk of our clients from abroad in the area of cosmetic surgery are Britons and Germans. Foreigners and foreign residents are discovering our good cost-performance ratio. It´s one of our most important goals in the future to do better marketing outside the island for our quality offer. Regarding that, an anecdote comes to my mind.
  • Please share it with us . . .

Recently a well-known Spanish businesswoman from Madrid travelled to the USA because of her health problems, so that she could be operated on by the best surgeon available. This doctor studied her patient´s notes and registered his surprise. He asked why she had undertaken the long journey, when one of the world´s best surgeons in this field was practising in Barcelona and Mallorca: Dr. Antonio de Lacy. The entrepreneur changed her mind and finally underwent surgery at the hands of this Mallorcan doctor . . . who is also under contract at Clínica Juaneda.

Text by: Roland Kroiss

Photos by: Thomas Baar and Clinica Juaneda
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