Cover Focus | July 2017

20 Questions: José L. Güell, MD, PhD

Getting to Know You

Currently, what book are you reading, what TV series are you binge-watching, what app do you use the most, and where do you get your daily news?

Book: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir, by Haruki Murakami

TV Series: None, really.

App: Google Earth.

Daily news: I look at news on my computer or my mobile phone, and I also read national and international journals.

What is something in your life you would happily do again, and what is something you would never do again?

Happily do again: I would happily tackle unknown mountains trails again. I already have a to-do list for the next few years, which includes the Pyrenees and the Alps.

Never do again: I will never again try parachuting.

What are three places at the top of your bucket list?

No. 1: Cadaques, on the coast of northern Catalonia, in Spain.

No. 2: The Pityusic Islands, a part of the Balearic Islands, off the Mediterranean Coast of Spain, which include the famous resorts of Ibiza and Formentera.

No. 3: Bali, Indonesia.

If you had to donate half your income tomorrow, to whom would you give it?

I would donate the money to my family or my closest, dearest friends, some of whom are working with mentally handicapped people.

If there is one high-risk thing that you have not done but remain curious about, what is it?

I would like to cross the ocean by sail.

Your Thoughts on Ophthalmology

What is the health care landscape like in your country?

Both for medical surgery in general and for ophthalmology in particular, the landscape has remained quite similar for the past few years, with most cases handled by the national health system and private insurance companies, as opposed to purely private cases.

How enthusiastic are you about the future of ophthalmology?

I believe the young generations of ophthalmologists must continue pushing hard to maintain the same quality and innovation we have achieved during recent decades.

What products in the pipeline excite you the most?

The use of cellular therapies in ophthalmology holds great promise for the repair, restoration, and regeneration of dysfunctional cells in the eye.

What was your most memorable moment in surgery?

Many years ago, I performed my first OVD-aided deep anterior lamellar keratectomy, or visco-DALK, in 20 minutes during a live surgery session.

What recent studies or technologies have influenced your surgical technique?

Many recent developments have influenced my practice, most notably those having to do with advances in lamellar corneal transplantation, both anterior and posterior. Obviously, OCT technology and collaboration with eye bank professionals have also been crucial.

What was the toughest decision you have had to make as an ophthalmologist?

The most difficult decisions are those requiring one to give up practicing in some surgical areas in order to properly focus on other areas.

How has ophthalmology changed since you started practicing?

The changes during my decades of practice have been tremendous. Just as an example, when I started in the 1980s, intracapsular cataract surgery, mini-RK, and full-thickness corneal transplantation using tissue imported from the United States were all common practice. Today, we have progressed to microincision laser-assisted phacoemulsification, small incision lenticule extraction, and selective lamellar corneal transplantation with collaboration with our local eye bank.

What advice can you offer the new generation of ophthalmologists?

Always consider the concerns of others before your own concerns.

If you could trade lives with a fellow ophthalmologist for 1 day, who would it be and why?

This is not something I would be interested in, but rather I would probably prefer to trade lives, just for 1 day, with someone in another profession. This would allow me to see a work perspective outside of ophthalmology.

If you were forced to limit your practice of ophthalmology to one procedure, what procedure would you choose and why?

I would choose keratoplasty—in any and all of its forms—because this has always been my main concern and focus from a professional point of view.

Your Thoughts on Business

What differentiates your practice from those of your competitors?

We are a group of professionals sharing our lives and seeking excellence in practice.

How do you feel about private equity, and is there a place for it in ophthalmology?

Of course there is a place for private equity in ophthalmology, especially with regard to research.

How do you approach marketing your practice and specific procedures you offer?

We use a number of different strategies, but, as I mentioned, we mainly try to highlight the excellence of our team.

How do you or your practice keep your staff members happy?

Mostly, having our staff participate in each of our projects and undertakings helps to keep them happy and motivated.

What is your end game?

To be proud of what we do.

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