Judo champion now Ayala’s medical director

A former member of the Philippine national judo team now oversees the healthcare unit of Ayala Corp. which aims to build the largest network of medical clinics and drugstores in the country.

“We are committing 1,000 Generika drugstores and 100 FamilyDoc clinics by 2020,” says Dr. Michael Laurente Santos, the medical director of Ayala Healthcare Holdings Inc.

Ayala Healthcare was established in June 2015 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ayala Corp., reviving the conglomerate’s healthcare business which began with Botica Zobel 180 years ago.

From left: GE Healthcare Philippines government affairs and policy leader Martin Crisostomo,  Ayala Healthcare Holdings Inc. medical director  Michael Santos, Asian Development Bank health specialist Eduardo Banzon and GE Healthcare Philippines country manager Ivan Alexi Arota.
Santos, who obtained a bachelor’s degree in Sport Science from the University of the Philippines-Diliman in 2001 and a doctor’s degree in medicine from Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila in 2009, was a national judo champion and MVP for judo during the 59th season of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines.

He trained for four months in Japan and could perform various disciplines such as Nage-no-kata, Kime-no-kata and Ju-no-kata.

Santos was also a track and field varsity player at UP and a member of the national powerlifting team.  He was a national open powerlifting champion in the 67.5-kilogram weight division and national open bench press champion in the same weight division.

Santos is also an expert rescue scuba diver, skin dive instructor, surfer/skim boarder and mountaineer.  He was also a TV production assistant, a live clips operator and event producer.

“That was a long time ago.  I had a weird childhood,” he says.

Santos still believes that fitness and lifestyle have important role in healthcare.  “We always advocate, not only personally but with FamilyDoc as well, that before anything else, lifestyle change is the best form of management that we could get,” he says.

“If you exercise and you get to eat healthier, your body becomes better. Of course maintenance medicine is important.  But if you don’t change as a person, medicine is not enough,” says Santos.

As the medical director of Ayala Healthcare, Santos is in charge of expanding the chain of FamilyDoc clinics and Generika drugstores.  He says FamilyDoc is a three-in-one community-based primary care clinic offering outpatient services, a diagnostic facility and a pharmacy under one roof. 

“We opened the first two clinics in Las Piñas and Cavite last year.  We now have six.  Starting April next year, we will open 30 clinics.  The target is to have 100 clinics by 2020,” he says.

Santos says from more than 600 outlets, the goal is to have 1,000 Generika drugstores by 2020, offering quality, yet affordable generic medicines.

He says a typical FamilyDoc Clinic is managed by two doctors, a pharmacist and three to four nurses, depending on the patient volume.  The clinics have X-ray and ultrasound equipment provided by GE Healthcare.

“Our price points are very attractive for the broad C and D [income groups]  It is more affordable,” he says.

Santos says more FamilyDoc clinics will rise outside the central business districts but “in the fringes of Metro Manila where employees live.”

“By early 2018, we will already be the largest [chain of clinics],” he says, adding that Ayala Corp. is investing in the healthcare sector to meet the needs of the people.

“We feel that there is an unmet need.  The market is unable to deliver adequate service. There are a lot of things we can do in terms of consolidation and integration.  Healthcare is actually a commodity,” he says.

Santos says while profit is a goal for any business, Ayala Healthcare focuses on making it sustainable first.  “We are hoping to become profitable.  But it has to be sustainable first.  The business has to make sense.  Our aim more than profit is sustainability,” he says.

Santos says Ayala Healthcare tapped GE Healthcare to avail of its quality and affordable medical equipment.  “Our partnership with GE started out in the early stages of FamilyDoc.  We were looking for quality and affordable equipment.  They are a very good supplier.  Aside from that, they have been helping us with international best practice, education and a lot of things,” says Santos.

GE Healthcare Philippines country manager Ivan Alexi Arota says the multinational company is committed to providing affordable medical equipment to emerging markets such as the Philippines.

“Our company has committed $300 million to develop solutions geared towards emerging markets,” says Arota.

Arota says GE Healthcare introduced an affordable CT scan machine in the Philippines this year to help secondary hospitals meet the needs of patients.  He says these machines from India are about 40 percent cheaper than other brands.

Topics: Judo champion , Dr. Michael Laurente Santos , Ayala Corp. , Ayala Healthcare Holdings Inc. , Generika drugstores , FamilyDoc clinics
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