Mar. 16, 2020

Ricardo Ruiz López


Ricardo Ruiz López

Former president & Founder, Clínica Vertebra and World Institute of Pain (WIP)

A great team, a strong approach to innovation, and a focus on quality management enable Clínica Vertebra to provide effective solutions that extend the human lifespan.


Ricardo Ruiz López is the founder and former President of WIP. He is also the founder of European Federation of IASP Chapters, president of II Congress Pain in Europe, founder of the Spanish Pain Society, founding president of the Catalan Pain Society, and founder of International Spine Societies. He has been promoting the WIP FIPP Examination for the Americas and the foundation of the FIPP Examination into Mandarin and English.

Can you briefly summarize the medical environment that gave rise to Clínica Vertebra and WIP?
In the last few decades, surgery has changed significantly mainly been due to advancements in both optics and the control of imaging inside operating rooms. Additionally, doctors are seeking less aggressive surgical practices. In parallel, there was the development of two new specialties: interventional pain specialty and a minimally invasive approach to spine surgery. Furthermore, the development of anesthesia played a major role. It gave us an opportunity to change classical surgery by shortening the duration of operations. At the same time, many older surgical approaches were not acceptable for an aging population because of the complication rate, the severity of the surgery, and the risk limitations. We have been providing new surgical approaches with minimally invasive attitudes and approaches, including endoscopy. These solutions made the population much less dependent on pharmacology and helped avoid issues like the prescription opioid epidemic.

Can you tell us more about your international operations?
WIP is a global organization. We provide our colleagues an opportunity to learn new procedures and new ways of safely treating patients. Our first site was in Budapest, and we later added operations in Miami and Texas. We also moved to Taipei and will start providing Mandarin-based education in 2020. We are also planning to expand into Istanbul. We later plan to move from Istanbul to Central Asian and Middle Eastern countries and the Gulf. Our most important concern is the alleviation of pain and suffering for our patients.

What percentage of Clínica Vertebra's patients is international, and how do you attract them?
Over 10% is international, which is reasonable. We can provide them with special services such as hosting and personal assistance. We are a multi-lingual team. Usually, our patients refer other patients to us. For now, we are focusing on quality over growth.

How many patients do you receive per year?
We see over 2,000 new patients per year. All our patients receive extremely high-quality and reliable service. This is the most important thing for us, starting from the first meeting with the patient all the way until their trip back home.

Who are your main competitors?
We compete with ourselves. Through self-criticism, we are always working to improve our services, quality, and the outcomes we produce. We have a great team, a strong approach to innovation, and a focus on quality management. It is not easy for a company to persevere for decades. This is especially true in a space such as ours, where change and innovation happen rapidly.

Do you see a disparity between university curricula and the needs of the medical field?
We need to support scientific advancement; this is one of the most remarkable areas of social advancement. Our clinic has contributed significantly at international forums in advancing the state of the field. We have engaged with thousands of practitioners interested in learning. We have given many local symposia and forums.

Can you give us an example of new techniques in operating rooms?
There are many. We are working on regenerative medicine with the introduction of stem cells in the spine. We are also working on a new technique that utilizes LR-PRP, and we are among the first in the world to use it. We are publishing the first open, double blind, and randomized controlled trial on the application for complex derivative pain conditions.

What are your goals for 2020?
The main objective is to be as effective as possible and to relieve disability for our patients. We want to keep people as healthy and whole as possible for as long as possible. We have a moral obligation to provide effective, costless solutions that extend the human lifespan. We are at the beginning of a new era of regenerative medicine. It has and will continue to be a major advancement in medicine.