This year, the IMO expects to carry out more than 2,000 consultations and around 4,000 treatments on international patients attracted by the prestige of the establishment and the city
. The Instituto de Microcirugía Ocular (IMO) has been part of the Barcelona Medical Destination mark of excellence since July, an initiative whose aim is to bring together the city’s medical excellence and consolidate the increasing number of visitors to its cutting-edge healthcare establishments. Barcelona currently welcomes more than 20,000 patients from around the world every year as a safe and well-connected medical tourism destination, boasting excellent services and a collection of high-quality specialist healthcare establishments linked to major research centres. According to Carlos Seguí, head of the IMO’s International Department, “having the recognition of this seal of excellence is a guarantee of quality for patients from around the world, to whom we transfer the prestige that the IMO has already earned as the best ophthalmic clinic in Spain, according to the latest report by the Spanish Organisation of Consumers and Users (OCU).” A pioneer in ophthalmology in Spain for the last 25 years, the IMO is a leader in highly complex operations and combined procedures thanks to the high degree of subspecialisation of its medical team. “This is a differentiating factor that not only results in the recommendation of ophthalmologists and health ministries in other countries, but also visits from individual patients who come to the clinic in search of solutions for the most severe disorders and any vision problem.” In addition to the quality of care of the IMO as a bastion of safety and confidence, “its International Department, boasting over ten members of staff exclusively dedicated to attending to foreign patients, is an important added value for these visitors who, in many cases are unfamiliar with the country and language, and especially appreciate their personal attention, says Carlos Seguí. Its facilities, boasting some 24,000 m2 of space and housing 70 consulting rooms and one of Europe’s most advanced surgical departments, enable the IMO to accommodate its increasing workload from inside and outside of Spain. Proof of this is that in the first half of 2016, the clinic welcomed around 800 foreign patients and carried out 1,300 consultations and 2,150 treatments. It is estimated that by the end of the year, the IMO will have exceeded 2,500 consultations and 4,500 treatments. This all goes to confirm the IMO’s exponential growth at international level, an initiative that it has particularly been committed to since 2013, which is now seeing it become a leading clinic for visitors from the Persian Gulf and North Africa. Also increasing is the number of patients from other European countries, such as Italy and Portugal, and the IMO’s presence in the Russian market is beginning to take off.
Leaders in innovation
The IMO team has developed and introduced to Europe pioneering techniques that have enabled it to strengthen its role as an international leader. These include the direct frontalis flap to correct drooping eyelids without the need for grafts, the transconjuntival midface lift to raise the cheekbones without visible incisions, macular indentation in people with high myopia and retinal problems, and selective transplantation of certain layers of the cornea to improve vision and help patients recover faster. The IMO also stands out for its excellent results in vitrectomy for eyes on which this surgery has not previously been performed, thanks to the extensive knowledge and experience of Dr Borja Corcóstegui, the medical director of the IMO and the first specialist to introduce modern vitrectomy to Europe, and to the prestigious team of subspecialist ophthalmologists who are part of the clinic’s Retina and Vitreous Department. At the forefront of these and other advances, the IMO’s ophthalmologists, each of whom is a subspecialist in one part of the eye and its associated disorders and diseases, also lead the training of specialists from around the world as promoters of and lecturers at the European School for Advanced Studies in Ophthalmology (ESASO) and encourage the transfer of knowledge at the head of major ophthalmology societies. These include the European Society of Retina Specialists (EURETINA), the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ESCRS) and the European Society of Cornea and Ocular Surface Disease Specialists (EuCornea).
Barcelona: a world centre for ophthalmology
As well as the World Society of Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (WSPOS), the ESCRS and EuCornea held their annual meetings last year in the Catalonian capital and managed to simultaneously bring together around 8,000 ophthalmologists. Looking ahead to the next few years, Barcelona has been chosen to host the EURETINA conference in 2017, with around 5,000 attendees, and the World Ophthalmology Congress in 2018, which is expected to attract 16,000 experts.
The potential of the city to attract professionals from around the globe is also evident in the meetings that take place at the IMO itself, such as the already well-established biennial events Trends in Surgical and Medical Retina and Barcelona Oculoplastics, each of which brought together more than 300 attendees in their last editions in 2015, Trends in Glaucoma and the adult and child with low vision Strabismus Course, which, this autumn, is also expected to achieve a high turnout. “The prestige of its local professionals, as well as its status as a first class tourist destination, make Barcelona a hub for international ophthalmology, with a long track record behind it and a great road ahead,” concludes Carlos Seguí.