THIS WEEK IN MEDICAL TRAVEL TODAY
Volume 5, Issue 19
by Amanda Haar, Editor
Rising medical costs, continued confusion about the future of healthcare and a limited number of physicians accepting new Medicare patients are a few of the factors fueling an interest in medical travel among older Americans.
While the American Medical Association (AMA) cites seniors traveling from their retirement locations to their former communities so as to receive care with a trusted (and Medicare accepting) physician, the AARP perceives cross-border care as an equally viable option for finding needed care and will address the topic at their conference later this month.
What's clear from both perspectives is that the need for care among this enormous market segment is growing and savvy seniors are actively looking for and finding ways to make care and cost work for them.
What remains unclear is how savvy medical travel professionals respond to the need.
Finally, we're pleased to announce the publication of our new book, "Medical Travel Today: Opinions and Perspectives on an Industry in the Making."
Featuring 40 of our most compelling interviews from the past five years of publication, the book chronicles the explosive growth of international medical travel.
As always, we welcome your comments, story ideas, and press releases.
Amanda Haar, Editor
Introducing Medical Travel Today: Opinions and Perspectives on an Industry in the Making
Medical Travel Today
— the authoritative newsletter for the worldwide medical travel industry — is pleased to announce publication of a new book, "Medical Travel Today: Opinions and Perspectives on an Industry in the Making."
Featuring 40 of the newsletter's most compelling interviews from the first five years of publication, the volume chronicles the explosive growth of international medical tourism as witnessed and experienced by some of the key stakeholders and players. A must-read for anyone interested or involved in the industry.
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – September 14, 2011 – Global Health Voyager
, Inc. (OTCBB: GLHV), a full-service, web-based, medical tourism facilitator
, today announced that it will now offer its medical travel programs to Health Savings Accounts (HSA)
, a tax-advantaged medical saving account available to individuals covered by High-Deductible Health Plans (HDHP)
established in 2003. This initiative gives GHV first mover advantage in the medical travel marketplace, and marks the Company’s entry into large-scale, business-to-business medical travel transactions.
"HSA account holders will now have the opportunity to take advantage of a medical travel option and access high quality healthcare services at significant savings virtually anywhere in the world,” says Ali Moussavi, president and CEO of Global Health Voyager. “Medical travel promotes the advantages of personal choice, an underpinning of HSAs, and we look forward to expanding these opportunities for all Americans.”
The funds contributed to an HSA account are not subject to federal income tax at the time of deposit, roll over and accumulate year to year if not spent, and may currently be used to pay for qualified medical expenses at any time without federal tax liability or penalty. According to a recently released report from the trade association America’s Health Insurance Plans, the number of people with HSA Plans has nearly doubled in the past three years
. This year, about 11.4 million U.S. residents can use the tax advantages of an HSA.
“HSAs apply to anything where the services purchased qualify on publication 502, issued by the IRS
,” adds Moussavi. “Of course, individuals will have to ascertain what percentage of the money spent on medical travel is credited towards satisfying their deductible.”
HSAs allow patients to receive needed care without a gate keeper to determine what benefits are allowed, and make consumers more responsible for their own health care choices through the required High-Deductible Health Plan.
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Gregory Ciottone, MD, FACEP, Chief Medical Officer, American Hospital Management Company, Part One
Medical Travel Today (MTT): You are a physician as well as an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School… so how did you get involved with international hospital management?
Gregory Ciottone (GC):
Gregory Ciottone, M.D., FACEP
Upon graduation and after serving a residency, I began a career that actually had some international medicine as part of it.
I am an emergency physician by training, board certified and practice clinically in Boston. I have been doing a lot of international work throughout my career and, in the early mid-1990s, I dedicated a lot of time to USAID and the American Health Alliance in the former Soviet Union. These projects included a great deal of educational training, and I set up 22 emergency medicine and disaster medical training centers throughout the Soviet Union.
I am a disaster medicine specialist, have written a book on disaster medicine and do a lot of work around the disaster homestead including assignments for the former commander of Level I Federal Disaster Team. The first one was at Ground Zero, where we stayed for a few weeks.
Case in point: after responding to the earthquake in Haiti and since that time, I have provided services in that country. The project is called "Child at Hand," (www.childathand.org
) and it assists orphans and children.
So, that's always been my area of expertise and involvement with international work. I first met the CEO of American Hospital Management Company (AHMC) back in 1999 when the company was about a year-or-so-old. We did a little bit of work together and kept in touch over the years. Three years ago, they asked me to be their chief medical officer.
MTT: What does it mean to be the chief medical officer (CMO) at this particular company? Do you oversee the delivery of care at these hospitals or do you just help to plan?
AHMC does not manage any hospitals in the United States -- all of them are outside the country.
There are other companies and agencies that employ CMOs, but it is relatively unusual for this industry to have management companies with a CMO.
One of the reasons I joined them was because of their commitment to the quality of healthcare provided. That's reflected in the fact that they created the CMO position to demonstrate that they really understand what it takes to be successful in hospitals, medical centers and healthcare projects anywhere in the world -- certainly overseas -- and to also be financially sustainable, top-notch high-quality healthcare is imperative.
That's the number one priority, the number one thing needed to provide for clients and patients – the best healthcare possible. So, that is why this position was created.
I oversee the healthcare provided by our various hospitals including quality and quality assurance as well as continuing education. I introduce policies and different initiatives for patient safety and clinical guidelines, making sure that cutting edge medicine is practiced and evidence- based.
I don't micromanage -- I don't go into each hospital and talk or worry about how each physician is doing…or how this practice is being done. I macro-manage -- sending down specific agency guidelines and protocols to use.
MTT: Are all the hospitals JCI accredited?
They are either JCI accredited or pursuing JCI accreditation.
That is one of the hallmarks of AHMC. When a facility becomes an AHMC hospital, it is automatically on the road to attaining JCI accreditation. Each hospital has a quality assurance department within the hospital.
For instance, Mount St. John's Medical Center, in Antigua, upper management of the hospital – CEO level – is involved in quality assurance, along with a full QA department and a quality manager in the hospital.
Each hospital has its own executive infrastructure, which includes quality assurance that oversees the quality of patient safety, the education, credentialing and other activities.
MTT: What areas of the world are you targeting for involvement?
It's interesting. The number of hospitals and regions we are getting involved with has really blossomed in the last several years.
About 11-12 years ago, I managed a hospital project for AHMC in Panama City. That hospital is still running and under our management. Then, the company expanded its footprint in the Caribbean and Latin America. Now, hospitals in Ecuador, Honduras, Dominican Republic, and Antigua have joined our corporate community. We are expanding further with new hospital projects in Peru and Brazil.
We are also active in the Middle East. We had two hospitals in Libya that were up and ready to start construction in March 2011. We had signed them on in January, one week before the turmoil in Libya began. So, we'll see where those go, but we still have them as contracted hospitals that will hopefully get going at some point.
We also have new hospitals in Egypt, and it looks like there's one coming up in Jordan. And there's a new project hospital under construction, as we speak, in Russia. We also have a pending Management and Operations agreement with a state-of-the-art medical center in Tbilisi, in the Republic of Georgia.
Plus, we have hospital projects in India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and in the Philippines that look very probable.
MTT: I read your name in an article about hospital development on the island of St. Kitts. Do you think the Caribbean islands have greater appeal for American medical travelers?
Yes, I do for a couple of reasons. If you look at it from the perspective of medical tourism, it's an ideal situation -- especially for this hemisphere. The resort areas that are not too far away are most attractive because they are comfortable and known by many.
MTT: From your perspective, how do you see this medical travel industry evolving -- not only in terms of Americans leaving the country, but others coming from all over the world to these locations?
Before beginning my current role, I didn't know a lot about medical tourism. I had a little information and knowledge, but now that I am working more in this area, I see medical tourism increasing in scale in the next few years; whether it's the model we have now or a variation to be determined. The cost of healthcare in developed countries is quickly driving up costs. Due to the emergence of new technologies and its availability around the world, along with enhanced medical knowledge, information and infrastructure, the quality of healthcare on a global level has dramatically improved; particularly, in comparison to what otherwise might have historically been available in a developing country or at least not one of the traditional health countries.
We knew that would happen, and we feel that in every place and every hospital where we build and manage a facility, we can bring first-world medicine. Today, this can be introduced anywhere in the world -- whether it's a third-world country, developing nation or otherwise. There's no reason why you can't bring first-world healthcare everywhere in the world and we are demonstrating that.
I believe that concept is now accepted by the general population, and medical tourism is growing dramatically because of it.
If someone could get the same quality healthcare in a place where cost is dramatically lower and the situation is better, they would opt for it. Plus, they could bring their family to a beach resort and some sort of vacation locale while recuperating. The patient could have their procedure done -- whether it's a hip replacement or bariatric procedure -- and their family could take a vacation during the recovery process in a resort-like atmosphere.
Of course, the number one thing is the quality. As we understand what drives our business -- the quality of healthcare that we provide -- hospitals will understand that their services can attract medical tourists who are seeking quality.
Now that the quality is available in many of these places and the cost remains low, these other appealing attributes will continue to drive the industry's growth. It is bound to accelerate over time.
Part Two of this interview will be featured in our next issue.
About Gregory Ciottone, M.D., FACEP
Dr. Ciottone is a practicing emergency physician with more than 20 years experience in academic, clinical and global medicine. He is an internationally recognized expert in disaster medicine and emergency management, healthcare policy, and infrastructure-building. Dr. Ciottone is U.S. board-certified and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, where he currently is chair of the Disaster Medicine Section and director of the Division of Disaster Resilience at Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians. He also served as chair of the International Emergency Medicine Section at Harvard Medical School, as well as director of the Division of International Disaster and Emergency Medicine and medical director for emergency management at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he works clinically in the Department of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Ciottone is the founder and director of the first Disaster Medicine Fellowship Program at Harvard Medical School.
In addition to his many appointments, Dr. Ciottone holds a visiting professorship at Vrije Universiteit Brussels, in Belgium, and the Universita del Piemonte Orientale, in Italy, and has served as the medical director for the Office of Security and Investigations, United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
About American Hospital Management Company
Based in Washington, D.C., American Hospital Management Company
(AHMC) is a diversified international healthcare management and consulting firm, focusing on the administration, management and development of world-class hospitals and healthcare systems throughout the world.
AHMC is the premier consultant for hospitals seeking to elevate their healthcare services to internationally recognized standards and position themselves to compete effectively in the medical tourism industry. Aside from promoting the tourism destination and available healthcare services, providers must effectively differentiate themselves from potential competitors. This is accomplished by providing prospective patients and payers with the relevant information needed for them to make an informed and educated decision regarding the healthcare service options available to them.
Dr. Sharon Sweeney Fee, Part Two
Editor's Note: Publisher Laura Carabello met Dr. Sweeney Fee at the recent medical travel meeting in Korea. In our last issue, we featured Part I of a discussion between the two after that meeting. The conclusion of the conversation follows below.
Medical Travel Today (MTT): What about post-operative care communications between the doctors in the home country and the destination country? Do you see any need for that?
Sharon Sweeney Fee, R.N., Ph.D
Sharon Sweeney Fee (SSF): I think there's always a benefit when the physicians can clarify with each other any questions they may have, and make sure the patients are getting the appropriate follow up care.
People think because they can send emails anywhere that doctors can do it as well. Emails are not a protected form of communication and can easily be hacked.
For HIPAA laws, a generic email shouldn't be communicated. If providers really want to talk to each other, they're going to find a way to figure out a date and time that they can actually talk to each other on the phone.
Of course, there might be a language concern. That's the thing, language concerns.
I know in my little rural hospital in Montana, we have a hard to time finding someone on our staff that can speak a particular foreign language to make a call -- and hope that the destination location has somebody that can speak a little bit of English. We frequently do have someone who can speak a little bit of Italian, French or Russian; meaning we typically do have someone that can speak on a basic level and that is willing to be part of the call.
For in-hospital patients, we offer interpretation services that are available via subscription and can provide assistance for the actual medical care. For conversations between providers, this is another step that we really need to consider.
I know at the medical tourism conference, they talked a lot about partnerships with U.S. hospitals and where they can have a better exchange of information because they are using the same system. If multiple hospitals are using the same system, they can share information much more readily.
MTT: What is your perspective on the globalization of healthcare and whether or not this is growing? Do you see any trends?
I think globalization offers a lot more options for care.
I know there are different needs among different patients. The reasons they travel can vary – whether they are seeking better care, or a certain type of care, or less costly care.
What I do know is that even if global medical tourism is growing, the problem we are having -- and have had for a long time – is ensuring the safe sharing of patient information regarding procedures for patients that travel.
Whether patients travel from state-to-state, city-to-city or country-to-country, the problems with time-zone changes and language differences are just being exacerbated.
I know the industry is looking at the health information exchanges as a panacea, but I think they're really going to have to be more patient-directed, and not provider-managed.
MTT: I am so surprised to hear you say that because I am familiar with so many of them that seem to be thriving.
Many of them do have some basic information, but when you're really talking about someone who travels out of the country for a surgical procedure that can be as detailed as a joint replacement, there's a lot of information that is not going to be expressed easily.
Unfortunately, the physician doesn't get the full story of what happened -- and physicians really want the full story. I sure would want them to have the full story for my own surgery!
MTT: What is the role of the nurse in this whole equation?
In the nurse case management model, nurses can be the person that works with the patient to make sure they have the information needed before leaving and when they come back in order to receive the proper follow-up care upon their return.
Nurses can help to navigate the system. Just as in medical tourism where there are people that help to navigate travel out of the country, the nurse case manager helps them navigate their care needs: accessing care, making sure they have their follow up appointments, ensuring that their antibiotics are working, dealing with a fever and arranging for current treatment.
This is a very cost-effective model. Instead of patients waiting until something goes really wrong and then getting into an emergency room and trying to follow up with a doctor, the nurse case manager can arrange for care in an appropriate manner.
MTT: Would it be your recommendation that all medical travel facilitators, travel agents and others involved in the process have some sort of nursing advisor or staffer that would ensure streamlined, quality care?
I would hugely recommend that they work with a nurse -- I really do.
I think just as complex as arranging travel is ensuring that patient records are transferred. Nurses can coordinate that.
We do it on a daily basis in the hospital, and I think with many patients doing medical travel and the insurance companies paying everybody in travel to make arrangements, they'd welcome the input of a nurse to make sure the information is flowing back and forth. The troubles Dr. Hill talked about will not go away unless they start to look at some kind of case management.
MTT: Your advice is very well taken. Do you think that the nursing community or the American Nurses Association would be interested in focusing on something of this nature?
That is something that I haven't really thought of in much detail, but I really do think there's a lot of arenas where nursing is kind of that bridge -- just as I am the bridge between the clinicians and the computer department in my professional role and in what I do.
I think we can really see a role for nurses to provide this bridge. It's going to take the insurance companies and medical tourism industry to decide if they want to hire nurse case managers. Then it's going to take some attention to licensing requirements. What we're really dealing with here is the issue of an individual's nursing license to work in other states.
I think if it's within the case management realm and within the insurer's business model, then there's some protection for the nurse working within the confines of the state license in place.
MTT: That would be an important factor.
Yes. There are a lot of issues here.
I think it's something the nursing community deals with on a daily basis, but our decisions with regard to policy and health tourism have not been there. I think it's something we're kind of watching and dealing with on many different levels, but so much of this has been really insurance-driven and separate from the healthcare industry that is driving it.
There are a lot of gaps that Dr. Hill identified that we're starting to recognize and address in this country because we realize that it is happening.
Data reveals hundreds of thousands of people traveling for care. We're all thinking about how to make sure that this is going to work best for the patients -- before they go and when they come back.
The medical travel industry doesn't realize there is a role for nursing in this continuum. Some of the issues that the industry keeps trying to deal with can be solved with a nurse case manager model.
I do think this is something that I will definitely pass on to my colleagues. I know it is something we really need to be looking at -- as nurses and in helping to manage the care of these patients. After reading the interview with Dr. Hill, it really sunk in that we can do things better and how we, as nurses and the American Nursing Association, can approach these issues and maybe have some discussions with each other as to what would be the best way to address this.
MTT: So, it might be a new topic for a meeting or something that the nurses are focusing on.
Yes. It would definitely be something we could look at.
A lot of this is focused on the regulations and standards of practice, and the issues with regard to nurse case management and working across state lines and countries.
We would need to have conversations about this because nurses won't leap into the entrepreneurship role if they're not sure their license is going to be protected. They're not going to be working outside the scope of that license that they hold, so there are still those issues we deal with on a regular basis whenever there is a new healthcare delivery model.
About Dr. Sweeney Fee
Dr. Sweeney Fee is a nurse informatics specialist, helping to implement an electronic health record at a rural healthcare system in Livingston, Mont. In 2009, Sharon worked as a Research Scientist on the Knowledge-Based Nursing Initiative (KBNI), with Aurora HealthCare in Milwaukee, Wisc. The KBNI is a project that evaluated nurses' workflow, embedded best evidence into nurses' workflow, and evaluated nursing process and patient outcomes in an electronic environment. Sharon has a Ph.D in Nursing from the University of Arizona with a focus on health systems and vulnerable populations. Sharon is currently serving as chair of the Advisory Board for the ANA Committee on Ethics and Human Protections; and is active in her community, serving on both the Sixth Judicial CASA/GAL and Joe Brooks Trout Unlimited Boards of Directors.
About the American Nurses Association and the Committee on Ethics
The American Nurses Association (ANA) is the only full-service professional organization representing the interests of the nation's 3.1 million registered nurses through its constituent member nurses associations and its organizational affiliates. The ANA advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the rights of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Congress and regulatory agencies on healthcare issues affecting nurses and the public.
In September 1990, the Center for Ethics and Human Rights was established with the following guiding objectives:
*Promulgate in collaboration with ANA constituents, a body of knowledge, both theoretical and practical, designed to address issues in ethics and human rights at the state, national and international level; *Develop and disseminate information about and advocate for public policy to assure that ethics and human rights are addressed in health care; and *Assure that short and long-range objectives regarding ethics and human rights will be addressed within the Association, and expressed to appropriate bodies external to the Association.
By Laszlo Puczko, Co-Founder, Wellness Tourism Worldwide
High-End Medical Travel
As in every form of travel, many medical travelers can also enjoy the various amenities available only for the selected few. The labels for these services are numerous: luxury, high- or top-end, exclusive, personal, etc.
Luxury as we tend to know it has very identical qualities: rare, different, better quality and certainly more expensive than the ordinary. Medical travel is not different.
High-end medical travelers look for special amenities and qualities. They want the best physician or consultant (with the best reputation and medical qualifications); the most personal and tailor-made services (personal chef, butler, car and driver, and nurses); and luxury accommodations (which can be translated as the equivalent to a five-star hotel).
It should be noticed, however, that the meaning of luxury has been changing, especially in the developed "Western" countries. Furthermore, most of 'standard' high-end qualities are very subjective and very much depend upon the country and culture we are talking about. While luxury still means the same for most of the Arabic and Asian countries, we can see significant shifts elsewhere. High-end Arabic and Asian medical travelers look for the tangible elements of luxury: number of staff available for them, expensive or designer furnishing in the room (or more like an apartment or suite), etc.
Heritage Building and secluded location, Schloss Waldleiningen Klinik, Germany
More and more Western top-end medical travelers, however, start to be interested in the intangible elements of luxury. They are satisfied with minimalist or "Zen" environments, which since the materials, finishes or furnishings used are still high-end, provide them with the feeling of exclusivity. The luxury in this case stems more from the services they receive: from the organic food and personalized diet, the additional services (for example, for the accompanying partner) or from the tranquil location.
Grand and lavish luxury dr. Rose Clinic, Budapest, Hungary
The label of the medical provider applies to its services and premises -- and is not independent from the high-end (perceived) market position they want to express. To many, the term "hospital" is a compromise. Therefore, they use the term "clinic" or 'medical centre' or even 'sanatorium'. To make it more obvious, for example, in German speaking countries, the term "schloss klinik," i.e. "palace clinic" is not uncommon, highlighting the unique location of the hospital.
Minimalist design, CircleBath Hospital, UK
Medical travel, interestingly, has special qualities in terms of luxury. First of all, "time" becomes a luxury item. Time to do something we like or we even need to do. Medical travel requires time. More time than having the same treatment at home or nearby the patient's residence. Medical travelers often have to do special arrangements, i.e., unpaid leave to make the trip happen.
We also observe the commoditization of international medical travel. For years, international medical services were accessible for only those with significant disposable income. By now, many medical travel services have become more accessible to the middle class, e.g. it is almost "normal" for an Austrian client to have his or her teeth done in the neighboring Hungary.
Conversely, since one of the main motivations of international medical travel is the favorable price of the treatment, saving money while having a treatment abroad has also become a form of luxury.
It is interesting to see how the "traditional" luxury suppliers or brands address the challenges created by international medical travel. In the hospitality industry, we can see the arrival of some big names, e.g. Armani, giving its name to luxury hotels or famous designers creating luxury facilities in hotels belonging to the art'otel chain. Besides, luxury spa brands should probably also think about how to find cooperation with high-end plastic surgeons, for example, thinking about post-operative treatments for better and faster results.
In medical travel, certain professors or consultants enjoy similar fame, as for example, luxury fashion brands. If they give their name to a clinic, it can mean a huge difference to both the clinic and to the patients it can attract.
Creating and providing luxury in medical travel is challenging. The market changers and providers should consider these characteristics of both – creating and providing.
One may wonder will we see Armani clinics anytime soon.
'Medical Travel Today: Opinions and Perspectives on an Industry in the Making' Released for Publication, Marking Fifth Anniversary of Industry's Leading Newsletter
Elmwood Park, N.J. – September 14, 2011
– Medical Travel Today
, the authoritative newsletter for the worldwide medical travel industry, today announced the publication of "Medical Travel Today: Opinions and Perspectives on an Industry in the Making (www.amazon.com)
featuring 40 of the newsletter's most compelling interviews which chronicle the explosive growth of international medical tourism. Executive editor and publisher Laura Carabello assembled this first-time collection to help document the industry from the perspective of various stakeholders including health executives, employers, insurers, policy makers, physicians, hospitals, academicians, investors, attorneys, travel agents and other business-to-business professionals.
"This book is a resource for the diverse global audience in the medical travel business sector," said Carabello. "A one-of-a-kind compendium of perspectives, the volume not only marks five years of hard work and the dedication of resources, but also reflects the changing face of a very nascent industry. As medical travel continues to mature, these interviews provide a baseline for further study, increased investment, and ongoing pursuit of global healthcare opportunities. We are truly witnessing the evolution of medical travel into a globalized and integrated healthcare system."
Carabello points to the bi-weekly, online newsletter as a platform for information exchange, standing as the first publication to track the development of global medical travel business activities. It offers timely news feeds, original articles, and thought-leader perspectives from around the world.
A foreword by David T. Boucher, president and chief operating officer of Companion Global Healthcare, and acknowledgements from Josef Woodman, CEO, Patients Beyond Borders, Rudy Rupak, president, Planet Hospital, and Victor Lazzaro, CEO, BridgeHealth Medical, set the tone for this must-read industry reference.
Editor Amanda Haar said, "We have learned from key thought leaders that quality, safety and cost still govern decisions regarding medical travel. These issues will continue to dominate discussions surrounding the care continuum."
Global Spa Summit Research Finds Potentially Explosive, $106 Billion Wellness Tourism Market Held Back by Conceptual Confusion and Weak Promotional Models
New York, NY (PRWEB) September 08, 2011 — The Global Spa Summit
(GSS) today released key findings from its research initiative "Wellness Tourism and Medical Tourism: Where Do Spas Fit?" - the most comprehensive investigation of the wellness tourism and medical tourism industries to date. The 100-plus-page report contains: an overview of existing definitions, industry data, and organizational and promotional models underway worldwide; twelve national case studies; results from a survey of 200+ industry stakeholders; and recommendations for governments and businesses going forward.
The full report can be found here
• Governments should develop and promote medical tourism and wellness tourism separately.
• Wellness tourism represents by far the best "fit" for the spa industry, and already generates twice the global revenues of the more-established medical tourism market ($106 bil. vs. $50 bil. USD).*
• Persistent terminology confusion, combined with weak or generic promotion, is significantly holding back these emerging travel categories.
Key Roadblock: Conceptual Confusion
Wellness tourism's and medical tourism's growth are being stymied by inconsistent, confusing terminology and conceptual intermingling. The survey of 200+ executives reveals a dramatic lack of consensus around definitions/concepts, even among industry players.
• 25% of executive respondents left the request for open-ended definitions of "medical," "wellness" and "health" tourism blank, or answered "don't know."
• 66% couldn't provide a "health tourism" definition, or responded, "don't know," revealing confusion around this term is especially acute.
• 89% report medical tourism and wellness tourism are used/defined inconsistently around the world.
• 95% argued inconsistent definitions are causing consumer confusion, and that a common language needs be established.
• Clear, consistent definitions need to be established globally. Usage of "health tourism" should be avoided, because the term "health" is associated both with the medical arena and complementary medicine/spas.
• Suggested "core" definitions: a "medical tourist" travels "because they're generally ill, or seeking cosmetic/dental surgical procedures/enhancements," while a "wellness tourist" travels because they're "seeking integrated wellness/preventative approaches to improve their health/quality of life."
• Governments and private entities should not intermingle these tourisms at the language, organizational or marketing level.
Key Roadblock: Weak or Generic Promotion
Combining case study data (a global cross-section of national approaches: Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand), with the survey results, reveals that governmental promotion of these tourisms is often non-existent, inconsistent or "unbranded."
• Only 29% of respondents (globally) report their tourism organizations are actively promoting medical tourism, 35% for wellness tourism. (Only 17% report both domestic and international tourists are being targeted.)
• North America lags Europe and Asia: Only 11% of U.S. and Canadian respondents report medical tourism is being promoted, 19% for wellness tourism.
• 57% of European executives report wellness tourism is being promoted, 41% for medical tourism.
• 57% of Asian executives report their country promotes medical tourism, 50% that they promote wellness tourism.
• Arguably no country studied has developed a strong, unique national brand image for either medical or wellness tourism, even perceived market leaders.
• Medical tourism marketers need to capitalize on/promote their true medical specialties.
• Wellness tourism marketers need to communicate their wealth of indigenous, natural-asset-based wellness/healing traditions, as branding will become increasingly important as markets become more competitive.
• Domestic, intra-regional and international medical and wellness tourists all need to be uniquely targeted.
*SRI International, "Spas and the Global Wellness Market," 2010
AMA President Peter W. Carmel, M.D. Issues a Message to all Physicians Regarding Medicare Turning Retirees into New "Medical Tourists"
amednews.com — AMA Leader Commentary: A few words about current events in medical practice
I suspect in the minds of many patients, there is a disconnect between the turmoil in Washington and the relationships they have with their physicians.
They don't quite understand the connection between Medicare payment and Medicare physician availability for themselves. For, other people, yes, but for themselves, no.
Most people don't make the connection among cuts in Medicare physician payments, the rising cost of medical care and their own welfare. They think that Medicare will be there for them when the time comes, or as it has been since they turned 65. And for many, that will be true.
But depending on what happens during the deliberations of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, beginning in September, it may not be the case for many others.
Year after year, increases in physician practice costs have exceeded Medicare payment updates. Even using the government's own index of practice cost inflation, average Medicare payments since 2001 have fallen about 20 percent behind.
By 2020, with the Medicare physician payment cuts forecast by the Medicare trustees, payment rates will be just half what they were in 2001. When Medicare payments no longer keep pace with the cost of care, physicians are forced to make one of two choices — either limit their Medicare patients or opt out of the program completely.
Either way, patients and physicians both suffer.
Welcoming Medicare patients has always been a good way for newly minted physicians to develop their practices, but that is becoming more difficult as the gap widens between payments and the cost of actually treating a patient.
Similarly, in many rural areas and inner-city neighborhoods, where Medicare patients are a large part of the local population, physicians cannot earn enough from treating non-Medicare patients to cover the deficits they face from treating Medicare patients.
Physician shortages already exist in many rural and inner-city neighborhoods. Another drop in Medicare payments will further hinder any effort to keep physicians in those areas — and any effort for the local residents to find doctors.
Deciding whether or not to keep seeing Medicare patients can be agonizing for physicians. The thought of turning any patient away is an anathema to most physicians.
In fact, many physicians facing that painful decision acquiesce in the end and decide they will go ahead and keep existing Medicare patients — but accept no new ones.
Lately, I have become aware of a growing phenomenon in New Jersey, where I practice. I think of it as reverse medical tourism.
Just as many parents are seeing their college-graduate students move back home, my colleagues have heard from a great number of patients who have retired and moved away — and want to come back to their original doctors for treatment.
To continue reading, click here.
ANY LAB TEST NOW® Partners with Cambria Health Care, Inc.
Local Pre and Post Surgery Testing Available for Medical Tourism Patients
ANY LAB TEST NOW® announced its partnership with Cambria Health Care, Inc., to provide pre-surgery and post-procedure lab tests for patients accessing affordable, quality healthcare through international and domestic medical tourism.
Cambria Health Care is a medical tourism facilitator that works with employers and individuals that are uninsured, have insurance with high deductibles or minimal coverage, to lower their overall surgical costs without giving up quality of care.
Patients will now be able to have local lab testing performed for their procedures without leaving the United States. This arrangement makes it easier on the patient who may not know if they qualify for a specific surgery or for patients that have had surgery and testing is necessary to make sure the healing process is progressing as anticipated.
"Taking the step to follow through with a surgical process abroad, whether it is cosmetic or life-threatening, can be both exciting and emotionally stressful," said Terri McCulloch, vice president, sales & marketing, ANY LAB TEST NOW®. "We want to bridge their transition, so the patient knows when they leave, they are ready for their operative procedure." "Just think – no extra days in a hotel or hospital to wait for test results, and patients get to leave with a complete feeling of readiness when they get on that plane."
Cambria Chairman and CEO, William Widener, said, "This partnership allows Cambria to provide comprehensive services to patients, giving them peace of mind that they are in good hands. I also appreciate that the continuum of care is not interrupted, which ensures a smooth experience for the patient."
ANY LAB TEST NOW® has more than 130 locations nationwide. Clients can be assured of privacy and confidentiality and each ANY LAB TEST NOW® location is conveniently located with work-friendly hours. With no appointment necessary and no waiting, ANY LAB TEST NOW® makes specimen collection simple and easy.
About ANY LAB TEST NOW®
Founded in 1992, ANY LAB TEST NOW® is a franchise lab testing facility that provides thousands of standard lab tests to consumers and employers in a professional, convenient and cost-effective manner without the need of a doctor's order or insurance. With over 130 facilities around the U.S., ANY LAB TEST NOW® offers a variety of affordable and confidential lab tests to consumers and businesses including general health and wellness panels, pregnancy, HIV/STD, drug, paternity and many more tests. To learn more about ANY LAB TEST NOW®, visit http://www.anylabtestnow.com
About Cambria Health Care, Inc.
Cambria Healthcare is a global healthcare facilitator located in Houston, Texas, USA. We provide patients the opportunity to access physicians and hospitals, domestically and internationally, in order to decrease their costs of care, increase their access to physicians, and put the world's greatest technology in the hands of the patient. To learn more about Cambria Health Care, Inc., visit http://medicaltourism-company.com
The Clinic Finder Adds Medical Tourism to Consumer Options
David Nicholls, a Director of ‘The Clinic Finder’, recently announced the addition of a ‘medical tourism’ section to the healthcare provider search engine's domestic site.
"The concept of ‘The Clinic Finder’ had always been to give people the broadest range of healthcare providers and options, be that locally or internationally," says Nicholls. "When we were formulating the strategic branding of the site, we initially felt that a separately branded site for medical tourism would be the way to go. However our thinking changed when research and discussion revealed that, in most cases, the search for an appropriate treatment starts locally with medical tourism research ‘possibly’ coming later in the process. By putting the medical tourism option forward as an integral part of ‘The Clinic Finder’ site, the public can now consider the overseas option earlier than they would normally."
This strategy is consistent with the company's overall objective of giving the widest medical choices available, and now gives overseas specialists a chance to be considered by an audience that previously may not have considered medical tourism.
"Now the medical insurance industry is starting to take a much closer look and in some cases offer the medical travel option, we truly believe that it is only a matter of time before overseas medical treatment becomes the ‘norm’," adds Nicholls. "The opportunities for exponential growth among healthcare providers in this market are still very real and we believe The Clinic Finder can help those numbers be realized faster than ever."
To learn more about The Clinic Finder and partnership opportunities either visit http://www.theclinicfinder.com
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Patients Beyond Borders® Author to be Featured at AARP's Life@50+ National Event and Expo
Josef Woodman, author of Patients Beyond Borders
, has again been selected as a featured presenter and moderator at Life@50+, AARP's National Event and Expo, Sept. 22–24, at the Los Angeles Convention Center (CA). Woodman will moderate a panel discussion titled, "Medical Tourism: Is It for Me and What Do I Need to Know?"
1 p.m.-2 p.m., Friday, Sept. 23, 2011.
Woodman will lead a panel of healthcare professionals and patients from popular medical tourism destinations in a discussion about the benefits and risks of getting medical treatment abroad. Participants will learn where to go for the highest quality care, how to negotiate the best prices, what types of insurance coverage are available, and what to do in the unlikely event that something goes wrong.
Presenters will share the pros and cons of crossing borders to obtain high-quality, affordable healthcare, and each attendee will receive a copy of the upcoming international "Patients Beyond Borders: Third Edition." Expert panelists will include Dr. William Ruschhaupt, chairman of Global Patient Services for Cleveland Clinic
(OH), Mario Juarez, trade and investment commissioner of Promexico of the Tourism Board of Mexico, and Paul Hambleton, an international healthcare patient who recently traveled to Mexico for life-altering knee surgery.
"As Americans begin to age into financially challenging conditions and the costs for medical treatments continue to rise here at home, a half-million U.S. citizens will travel abroad this year for safe, affordable medical procedures," said Woodman. "Mexico
, Barbados, Costa Rica, India, Malaysia, and Thailand are among the many countries that offer treatments — such as orthopedic, heart, cosmetic, and dental — in American-accredited hospitals at 40–70 percent savings."
The three-day conference is expected to draw more than 25,000 attendees and will feature a host of celebrities and guest speakers on topics geared toward the 50+ audience. AARP currently boasts nearly 40 million members and helps people 50+ achieve independence, choice, and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society.
Media wishing to attend Woodman's session at the Life@50+ event can request press credentials at http://www.aarp.org/about-aarp/events/national_event/press-registration/
57th Annual Employee Benefits Conference
October 30-November 2, 2011
New Orleans, Louisiana
More than 5,000 trustees, administrators and professional advisors serving multiemployer and public sector benefit plans will be gathered for the premier benefits conference of the year.
Over 130 sessions with featured speakers on health and welfare, pension, investments, fiduciary responsibility, communication, administration, technology, public plans, and training and education; numerous problem-solving workshops, open forums and specialized roundtables; participation of more than 300 industry leaders; and approximately 300 exhibitors.
– Phyllis C. Borzi, J.D., M.A., Assistant Secretary of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), U.S. Department of Labor
The Future of Retirement in America
– Honorable David M. Walker, Founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative and former Comptroller General of the United States
Implementing Value-Based Health Care for Multiemployer/Public Employer Plans
– Dee W. Edington, Ph.D., Director of the Health Management Research Center, University of Michigan
An Economic Outlook
– Peter Ricchiuti, Assistant Dean and Director of Research, A.B. Freeman School of Business, Tulane University
Innovations in Health Care Delivery and Pricing
– Donald M. Berwick, M.D., MPP, Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
Lou Holtz, Legendary Football Coach and Analyst, ESPN
– Game Plan for Success
, Leading Futurist, Trends and Innovations Expert – Today's Trends—Tomorrow's Opportunities
Dr. Bertice Berry
, Sociologist, Author, Lecturer and Educator – Renew, Reenergize, Reengage
Other Timely Sessions
• Health Care Reform—Where Are We Today, and What's Coming?
• Employee Benefit Issues in the Cross Fire
• A Pension Legislative and Regulatory Update
• The Role of the States in Implementing Health Care Reform
• Passive vs. Active Investing—The Debate Continues
• New FASB Rules and Their Impact
For more information, visit www.ifebp.org/Education/UsAnnual
Dates announced for Destination Health 2012
March 23-24, 2012 at the Olympia Conference & exhibition Centre in London UK.
Now in its 3rd year, Destination Health
will bring together thousands of health and medical tourists planning to travel abroad for treatment.
The show will be split into three sections offering visitors the opportunity to quickly and easily to find the treatments they are looking for.
The three sections will include: Health & Medical Tourism
, Fertility World
and The Health & Medical Spa Show
Whatever the size or nature of your business, if you want to promote and your health and medical services in a focused and dedicated environment, you should be at Destination Health
Do not miss this unique opportunity to reach thousands of new patients and boost your business in 2012!
If you are one of the first 10 exhibitors to book your stand before 9th September 2011, you could get up to 50% on the exhibiting and marketing packages. Hurry ! Don't miss this fantastic offer !
To find out more about this fantastic offer, please click here to request further information
Second Annual Health 2.0 Europe Conference to Explore Impact of Web 2.0 Technology on European Healthcare
Event in Berlin, Germany, Oct. 27-28, 2011, will explore user-generated healthcare in a boundary-less online world and connecting patients and providers in diverse systems
Berlin, Germany, July 14, 2011– Health 2.0 Europe
, a conference dedicated to how Web 2.0 tools, data and social media are transforming healthcare systems in Europe, announced that its second annual event will take place Oct. 27-28, 2011, in Berlin. Co-hosted with partner K.I.T. Group
, this second edition will reconvene leaders and stakeholders in the Health 2.0 community for a day-and-a-half of technology demos, networking and brainstorming.
Health 2.0 Europe 2011 will present the latest thinking about content, search & communities, data utility layer and analytics, provider and consumer tools for care management, and financing, mobile devices, smartphones and ‘unplatforms’ in a European context. In particular, the conference will address what a “boundary less” online world means for consumers and physicians working in different healthcare systems. Technologies that are shaping the future of European healthcare will be featured in live demonstrations, along with special videos, keynotes and interactive sessions. In addition, during Launch!, a signature part of all Health 2.0 conferences, start-ups will demo innovative technologies. The call for speakers
“Doctors, patients, and healthcare organizations are adopting a new generation of online and mobile technologies, and are fundamentally changing the way healthcare works,” said Indu Subaiya, co-chairman and CEO of Health 2.0. “This is particularly fascinating with Europe, given each country’s different system, language and methods.”
“We’re thrilled to be bringing Health 2.0 Europe to Berlin. And we’ll again be contrasting and contextualizing the best of European health technology,” said Matthew Holt, co-chairman of Health 2.0.
“Health 2.0 is more than a conference: it is a network, a community, and a complementary suite of activities tailored for the Health 2.0 community,” said Pascal Lardier, international director at Health 2.0.
First held in San Francisco in 2007, the annual Health 2.0 conferences
are rapidly expanding to other continents as the use of web and mobile technologies in health grows worldwide. Its inaugural European event was held in Paris in April 2010 and attracted more than 500 attendees. Future conferences are planned for India and China, all featuring Health 2.0’s unique format.
3rd International TEMOS Conference
HEALTHCARE ABROAD & MEDICAL TOURISM
November 20 - 23, 2011
Cologne / Germany
This year’s location for the 3rd International Temos Conference from 20 – 23 November 2011 will be the Mercedes Benz Center in Cologne, one of the most interesting and up-to-date Conference locations in Cologne. Enjoy the combination of Temos Conference high class speakers and the atmosphere of 125 years German high class car design. We are pleased to again carry out the Conference in cooperation with the German Aerospace Center, DLR.
Further information about the Advisory Board, program and exhibition will be published soon on www.temos-conference.com
Early bird rates are available until 31 July 2011.
– Medical Tourism I: case management & importance of non-medical services
– Medical Tourism II: state-of-the-art medicine & upcoming topics
– Germs, viruses & Co: “unrequested passengers” of Medical Tourism
– Insurers perspective: treatment abroad
– Repatriation by air: requirements for/of hospitals, insurances and assistances
– Quality Management: standards for international patient treatment
– Telemedicine in Medical Tourism: mission – vision – proven applications
– November 20: Welcome Reception at Mercedes Benz Center
– November 21: Conference Dinner at Rheinterrassen
– November 22: Visit of Christmas Market in Cologne
Registration fee includes participation in Welcome Reception and Conference Dinner.
Information about this event and the preliminary program
is now available on the TEMOS Conference Website
Dates for Center for Medical Tourism Research 2012 Conference Announced
The Center for Medical Tourism Research has announced it's 2012 conference will take place in
San Antonio, TX on February 13-15. Keynote speaker will be Dr. Tricia Johnson from Rush University.
Dr. Johnson is the co-PI for the $500,000 (USD) U.S. Department of Commerce grant to study inbound medical tourism to the U.S. and also is the co-author of the recent book "The Future of Healthcare: Global Trends Worth Watching
She will be sharing the initial results of her study with our conference participants.
A call for papers will be issued soon.
Well-Being Travel Conference 2012
First-Ever Conference Converging the Medical and Travel Industries
(Oyster Bay, NY) – The medical and travel industries will convene for the first time in a to strategize about the quickly emerging and highly lucrative global medical travel market at the “Well-Being Travel Conference 2012,”
June 21-23, 2012, at The Phoenician, an acclaimed Starwood luxury resort in Scottsdale, Ariz.
More than 1,000 participants from around the world are expected to attend including key representatives from medical facilities, hospitals, dental facilities, spa/wellness facilities, insurance companies, tourist boards, travel agencies and travel providers.
Sponsored by Well-Being Travel, the go-to resource for medical travel that is taking this burgeoning niche market to the next level of development, this conference will place medical representatives face-to-face with travel sellers who are already established as a distribution channel and who already have clients that are traveling around the world on spa and wellness trips.
“There are a variety of medical travel events being offered in the marketplace today, but none of them has yet provided a solution for a strong distribution system that effectively reaches the patient traveler,” said Anne Marie Moebes, executive vice president of Well-Being Travel. “That system must include travel sellers,
who are already booking all types of travel for their dedicated clients; destinations, which
want to promote their countries to medical travelers; hospitals
who provide the procedures and pre/post medical care; and travel industry suppliers,
which need to understand what products and services this special market segment needs. Well-Being Travel Conference 2012
brings together all the key players for the greatest benefit of patient travelers.”
The event will explore medical tourism opportunities and set a direction for the future of this developing niche. Speakers from the world’s best medical and travel organizations will educate and motivate. The highly specialized corporate side of medical travel will be discussed in depth; insurance companies are increasingly working with corporations to offer employee benefits to incentivize them to travel for their medical procedures and knowledgeable travel agents are ahead of the curve in proactively bringing these opportunities to their corporate clientele.
At Well-Being Travel Conference 2012
, resources will be provided so that participants from every segment of each industry involved in medical travel will depart from the event with a customized action plan
to implement medical travel offerings.
“The various elements of the leisure travel industry are quickly finding themselves in the medical travel business,” said David Boucher, MPH, FACHE, p resident and chief operating officer of Companion Global Healthcare, Inc. “ As more Americans and Canadians travel overseas for necessary surgical care, an increasing number of airlines and cruise lines are making accommodations for them. Certainly a growing number of international hospitals are courting these traveling patients. Large self-insured employers are also beginning to understand the real value proposition of international medical travel to their employees…and to their bottom lines! The savvy travel agency today recognizes the nuances of international medical tourism…..then connects with professional medical travel facilitators who work in concert with them to ensure safe travels
. Well-Being Travel has done their homework over the past three years to build a ‘best in class’ solution.”
Echoing the idea that the time has come for medical travel, Laura Carabello, principal of CPR Strategic Marketing Communications, which specializes in providing marketing solutions to the medical community, said, “The travel community will play an increasingly important role in helping Americans to access more affordable, high-quality healthcare beyond our borders. Individuals and employers will need to turn to competent travel professionals, who understand the challenges – and opportunities – that are now available. Kudos to those in the travel industry, who are meeting the needs of consumers who recognize that medical travel is a viable option for surgery and treatment not available or simply too expensive in the United States. On behalf of this collective community of medical travelers, I thank the travel agents and others who are making this a priority service.”
The meeting venue selection and planning of events for Well-Being Travel Conference 2012
is being handled by Acclaim Meetings, a marketing organization for meeting planners and travel agencies.
To find out more about how about Well-Being Travel Conference 2012,
contact Debbie Press, at 888-854-0039 or email@example.com
The Right Place, the Right Time is Right Here
The following is an unsolicited testimonial regarding one individual's success at finding employment through Medical Travel Today's Jobs/Situation Wanted listing. If you're seeking a job or a candidate, consider a listing in our next issue.
I wanted to thank you for putting the "Situations Wanted" ad on your newsletter during the spring and summer months. The ad was successful and I began a three-month contract position for Patients Beyond Borders last month, helping with data work.
I really appreciate your getting my name out there and I'm especially grateful that it helped land a position in the medical travel world.
SEEKING OPPORTUNITY: Leyah Cole
My goal is to obtain employment or internship in health care related industries; with a long-term goal of owning my own medical tourism company. Based on my prior work experiences, academic knowledge with a degree in International Business (Spanish Intensive) and similar career interest I believe I'd be best suited for positions, such as: business administration, research and development, consulting and/or management.