Jan. 19, 2015

Javier Contreras


Javier Contreras

CEO-General Manager, Hospital Punta Pacifica


Javier Contreras is a senior business executive with over 23 years of international experience in numerous Latin American countries. Before becoming CEO-General Manager at Hospital Punta Pacifica, he was CEO at Hospital Metropolitano (Quito–Ecuador). Prior to that, he worked for many years in senior positions at Kraft Foods in Latin America. He is an experienced business negotiator and specializes in corporate finance and general management.

What have the most important achievements been in the development of the hospital?

The hospital opened in 2006. In 2002, we negotiated a prosperous affiliation with Johns Hopkins Medicine International, which was important as it allowed us to improve our standards, and obtain Joint Commission International (JCI) certification in 2011. However, the most important achievement for Hospital Punta Pacifica was that our opening had a direct impact on improving the quality of the healthcare providers in the Republic of Panama. Although the hospital is only in its eighth year, we became one of the 35 best hospitals in Latin America and number two hospital in Central America according to the “2013 Best Hospital Ranking" of América Economía magazine.

In terms of specialties, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the hospital?

Hospital Punta Pacifica is a level IV general hospital; we have all types of medical specialties here. The hospital performs complex procedures such as kidney transplants, oncological, neuro, and cardiovascular surgeries, among others. We are also accredited by the Cardiovascular Surgery Program at the Caja del Seguro Social of Panama, to perform open heart surgery. We help the Social Security Hospital with a long list of beneficiaries who need this type of surgery.

How important is medical tourism for Hospital Punta Pacifica?

Medical tourism is not very important for our hospital right now. Less than 1% of revenues come from international patients. In my opinion, further legal changes in the healthcare sector in the US, Canada, and some other developed countries are still needed, in order that countries such as Panama can truly take advantage on this market. Hospital Punta Pacifica's volume is mostly related to Panamanian and local residents. Volume comes from gynecology, pediatrics, obstetrics, general surgery, and orthopedics. Medical tourism does exist for developing countries, and the rationale is relatively simple: patients from developed countries looking for less expensive medical services, in hospitals with quality and international standards. This is valid for those procedures uncovered by the insurance companies. Thus, plastic surgery, odontology, and some orthopedics fit into this. There is also international volume for stem cell treatments, given that they are banned or not approved yet in countries such as the US. Hospital Punta Pacifica is not participating in stem cell treatments, as there is not enough strong scientific evidence of its effectiveness.

You have an investment plan of $16 million to expand the hospital's facilities. What is the current status of this project?

We are currently building four levels of parking, which will give us 110 additional parking spaces. We are also expanding the fifth floor to increase the hospital service area, laying the foundations for enhancements. Two new floors for doctors' offices are being added to increase the number of specialties and physicians. This project will be completed by 2016.

How do you see the local market maturing over 2014 in the healthcare sector?

If we want to measure the healthcare delivery market in Panama, we can use as an indicator the insurance companies' claims issued by the Superintendencia de Seguros de Panamá. During 2013, paid claims grew 8.4%. In this same period, Hospital Punta Pacifica grew 21% in this segment. In 2014, insurance claims are expected to increase between 7% and 10%. Expectations for Hospital Punta Pacifica are quite positive, around 9%-15%. Panama's growth needs to be fueled by the population's access to education and healthcare. Over the past decade, Panama has faced accelerated growth in public sector infrastructure. The government has built at least 20 outpatient centers plus five general hospitals. All these bring dynamism to the country and the whole segment.