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© 2012 Medical Travel Today

Medical Travel Today is a publication of CPR Strategic Marketing Communications, a public relations firm based near New York City that specializes in healthcare and life sciences, with an international clientele. CPR, its Partners, and clients are at the nexus of where medical travel is today, and where it will be tomorrow.

Publisher, Laura Carabello

Table of Contents

From the Editor

From the Editor: This week in Medical Travel Today, Amanda Haar

News in Review

PressTV.ir: Malaysia's Booming Medical Tourism

Taiwan Economic News: Medical Tourism Arrivals to Taiwan up 156 Percent to 100,000 in 2012

Lawyers.com: Medical Tourism Growing with the Rising Cost of Healthcare

London Free Press: Medical Tourism Booms in Costa Rica

Cosmetic Surgery Times: Cosmetic Surgery Common

Taiwan welcomes medical tourism from China

Spotlight

Bernard Lee, Activ Doctors Online

From the Aisles

Josef Woodman Reports from the International Malaysia Healthcare Travel Conference and Exhibition (MIHTE)

Case Study

Implementing Medical Tourism into Worker's Compensation

Perspectives

Laszlo Puczko on Travelling for Health – 2013 and Beyond

Industry News

Josef Woodman Blogs About Medical Travel on huffingtonpost.com

TravelMarket Report: 2012's Year of Milestones in Medical Travel

Mercury Health Travel Issues Moratorium on Medical Tourism Coordination to India

Upcoming Events

IBMS Mumbai India Mini-Medical Tourism Conference Slated for January 17-18, 2013, in Mumbai

Kuwait Medical Tourism Congress and Exhibition Scheduled for March 2013

International Medical Travel Exhibition & Conference (IMTEC)

International Medical Tourism Exhibition & Conference (IMTEC Oman 2013)

Global Connected Care Conference & 4th Meditour Expo

6th Annual World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress

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Global Health Voyager

THIS WEEK IN MEDICAL TRAVEL TODAY

Volume 7, Issue 1

By Amanda Haar, Editor

Greetings,

It's always great to start the New Year off with positive news and thoughts. Happily, this issue is chock full of both.

We have a great FROM THE AISLES report from Joe Woodman, suggesting that there is a way medical travel conferences can work for more than just the sponsoring organization. Plus, the good folks at TravelMarketReport have compiled a great year-end industry round-up that includes a few key quotes from our publisher, Laura Carabello, and suggests a very promising new year and beyond for a variety of medical travel fronts. In a similarly positive vein, Laszlo Puczko of The Tourism Observatory for Health, Wellness and Spa offers a sneak peek at the Global Wellness and Spa Tourism Monitor's annual survey of service providers in the wellness and spa spheres.

As always, we welcome your comments, story ideas and press releases.

Cheers,

Amanda Haar, Editor
ahaar@cpronline.com 

Log onto Facebook and join the Medical Travel Today Group. Look for recent news, trends, and post discussions in the board. If you would like to see something in Medical Travel Today let us know in the discussion board. If you have a question, post it there!

You can also follow Medical Travel Today on Twitter. For more information log onto www.medicaltraveltoday.com

Spotlight

Bernard Lee, Executive Vice President, Activ Doctors Online

SPOTLIGHT: Bernard Lee, Activ Doctors Online



Medical Travel Today (MTT): Can you give our readers some background and an overview of Activ Doctors Online?

Bernard Lee (BL): At our core, we are a global health partner offering a complete suite of telemedicine solutions designed to empower consumers and providers. Activ Doctors Online (ADO) brings three very important aspects of healthcare delivery together under one umbrella for any patient or entity interested in medical travel, whether it is domestic or international. By providing access to personal health records (PHR), expert second medical opinions (SMOs) - in as fast as 48 hours - and eConsults, ADO solutions patients save money, time and, in extreme cases, lives.

I think for any patient or entity interested in medical travel, the PHR is the most important place to start. A patient can have an immediate impact on the process by enrolling and uploading their entire medical history on to ADO's PHR platform and the possibilities are endless from there. Now that they're in control of their medical information, they can grant access to providers regardless of location, which is an incredible time and cost savings when it comes to traditional medical tourism. Once a medical procedure is done, the PHR can be easily updated to add the new healthcare information before the patient is discharged.

The SMO feature adds further benefits for the patient before a medical procedure or surgery, in that they can get a SMO online from a highly regarded specialist to provide a better idea of specific healthcare pathology as it relates to the treatment in as fast as 48 hours.

eConsults also play a critical role in this situation when a patient returns home after the procedure. With the easy-to-set-up platform, the patient can be followed by the physician performing the medical procedure or surgery regarding any complications or labs, which lead to greater patient satisfaction and confidence. 

For self-insured employers, TPAs and insurance companies interested in medical travel for their employees or patients, Activ Doctors Online products ensure patient satisfaction, privacy, efficiency and cost containment – all in one seamless process from a secure and encrypted platform.

By way of background, the company was established by Florent Monssoh, the most successful French African entrepreneur in history.

Mr. Monssoh has what can only be described as an impressive IT background.

In addition to founding the publicly-traded technology firm Aubay, he developed an automated scheduling software that has been used by France's Department of Revenue/Tax, Australia Telecom, as well as the Pentagon.

While he was busy doing that, the French government was re-crafting its medical system, including reducing the number of days and hours physicians could work. As it turns out, his brother is a physician so they had many discussions about the system and challenges. He engaged in discussions with the French Ministry of Health for nearly a year and then in 2004 launched Medic Services, the first medical interim company in French history to employ doctors. Basically, Medic Services employed and placed physicians throughout the country. Very quickly the service created a vast network of physicians and specialists, and placed them in hospitals where they were needed.

That experience actually provided the impetus for developing the online SMO. The Medic Services network was connecting some of the best minds in medicine and allowing them to support each other through the sharing of opinions. Mr. Monssoh wanted to make that type of interaction available to the regular citizen.

In 2008, Mr. Monssoh founded Activ Santé and took not just SMO online, but also PHR -- a first for France.

That same year, President Obama began putting a major focus on healthcare here in the US. Mr. Monssoh thought the timing was right to bring the services of Activ Santé here. In 2009 Activ Doctors Online was launched. Since then the business model has evolved to include PHR, SMO and eConsultation.

We then took the model to Shanghai in 2011 and are now in discussions with hospitals in India, and we've set a target of being operational in Brazil by the end of 2013. I should mention we also have offices in Paris and Madrid, and anticipate having a presence in Portugal and the UK shortly.

MTT: If I understand correctly, the aim of the organization is to assist the patient first, correct?

BL: The goal is to be an advocate for patients and be their ally. However, a more informed patient is essential to increasing the standard of care, which is a win-win scenario for patient, employer and provider. Having a PHR gives the patient a knowledge base of their health, improves their relationship with their physician, and, studies show that if you have a PHR you actually take better care of yourself versus those without a PHR.

However, consumers aren't our only market. At this point in time we are engaging providers, and actually have hospital groups approaching us because of our platform - it's secure, encrypted and puts everything in one place.

In fact, India came to us because of the work we did in France. Specifically, we became the first telemedicine company to provide e-consultation through AP-HP (Assistance Publique - Hopitaux de Paris). We are the only provider that offers e-consults to a group of 30 hospitals. Initially the consults were focused on kidney transplant patients.

Transplant aftercare costs France 250 million Euros annually. Through eConsults, patients and physicians pretty much have an open and ongoing line of communication, and recovery is improved. That access translates into huge cost savings.

MTT: I see how that savings works for a country with socialized medicine like France. What's the potential gain for US hospitals?

BL: That really depends upon their structure.

Take a hospital center. It they don't have a telemedicine capability but are looking for cost savings, access and speed of care, we can establish an eConsult program.
This allows physicians to deepen the relationships they have with their patients and enhance the continuity of care. Ideally, this leads to fewer re-admissions and saves money.

MTT: If we can, I'd like to jump to your Second Medical Opinion service. I'm curious about two things. First, what's the criteria for being able to offer an opinion and, second, how do you handle licensing issues across state and international boundaries?

BL: I'll start with the criteria.

First we have a US medical director as well as individual state medical directors. The state medical directors actually recruit the specialists who then provide the opinions.
In order to be considered you have to be board certified, currently practicing, currently licensed in your state, and you can have never lost a malpractice suit.

As for the licensing, the specialist offering the second medical opinion must follow state licensing requirements. On the international side, we abide by the laws of the country of origin of the patient. And as you might guess, that varies by country, but it is what dictates how we operate.

MTT: So how does a patient gain access to a SMO?

BL: It's pretty straight-forward. First, a member -- and it could be a direct member or one who comes to us through an employer -- has to have all their information in the platform. Then they simply go online and request a second med opinion. To be clear, opinions are only offered on serious conditions. Think cancer, not ankle sprains. They go online, fill out the form and make the request. That request goes to the US medical director who does a brief consultation with the member on the reason for the request. Once that's done, the US medical director contacts the appropriate state medical director, who in turn contacts two specialists to review the case. They then confer on an opinion and create a report. The report is provided to a US medical director, who reviews it and then sends it to the member via the platform. That's followed by another communication from the US medical director to the patient to make sure they received the report and understand it.

MTT: If I may ask, what's in it for the specialist to participate?

BL: It's two-fold. First, they are paid for each opinion offered, but second, and often more appealing to the specialist, they get to engage with other highly-credentialed thought leaders. Typically the cases they're reviewing are challenging. They really want to be involved in discussions.

I do want to point out that it's not a glory job. We don't promote the individual physicians in any way. Their names appear on the report but that's it. That is to say, prestige isn't a motivator.

MTT: Is Second Medical Opinion intended to -- or is there the potential for it to -- actually direct patients to different types of treatment, caregivers or even institutions for care?

BL: That hasn't happened yet. The SMO request is made by the patient, and it's really up to them to decide how to use that information. It's really intended to simply offer more guidance. It's up to them whether they stay with the physician who provided the diagnosis or seek an alternative.

MTT: Your products and services are clearly aimed at ensuring that consumers have access to their medical records at any time, controlling costs for employers, as well as ensuring that they are getting the proper treatment. These are all big areas of concern in the field of medical travel.

How do you think Activ Doctors Online might be best applied to or integrated into the industry?

BL: I think there's the potential for an excellent fit, particularly as it applies to the eConsult part of our service.

Say a patient decides they want to see a particular orthopedist in Florida. Whether he or she is in Iowa or Indonesia, they can get a jumpstart on their relationship with the doctor by doing a consult online. All their records, imaging and relevant information is accessible, and you can speak one-to-one with the physician.

It has the potential to strengthen the patient-physician relationship and lead to a better experience all around.

MTT: If you're willing, can you share what's the fastest growing area of your business?

BL: Definitely the employer side. That's true in both the US and Europe. In Europe there's a lot of interest from large companies in SMO.

Unnecessary treatments and procedures are a huge area of concern for employers. In 2008 alone, $700 billion was spent on unnecessary treatments and procedures. PHRs, SMO and eConsults offer a way to bring some control to those costs.

About Bernard Lee

Bernard Lee is the executive vice president of Activ Doctors Online in Coral Gables, Fla., and directs the firm's Global Sales and Business Development teams. He's also responsible for directing strategic partnerships in the healthcare provider and insurance segments.

Bernard works with clients to develop web-based health and wellness strategies to include Personal Health Records, Online Second Medical Opinions and eConsultations in alignment with client's organizational goals to engage, empower and educate its workforce while assisting in lowering their overall health-related expenses.

Bernard joined Activ Doctors Online in 2011 after experiencing a major health issue, making him acutely aware of the importance and vital role that telemedicine plays in creating more intelligent healthcare consumers, while providing increased access and greater control of an individual's health information resulting in a higher standard of care.

He is the former managing director of Laurus Wealth Management, a Coral Gables-based asset management firm that provided a wide range of investment services to a diversified and substantial client base worldwide.

He also served as senior vice president of Intercap Wealth Management/Gunn Allen Financial, where he specialized and participated in over 40 Initial Public Offerings and Special Purpose Acquisitions ranging from $15 million to $250 million. In 2006 he was awarded the Gunn Allen Financial Investment Banking Player of the Year. In 2008, he was honored by Success South Florida Magazine as one of South Florida's 50 Most Powerful Black Professionals.

From the Aisles

Josef Woodman Reports from the International Malaysia Healthcare Travel Conference and Exhibition (MIHTE)

Those in our industry who were not able to attend the International Malaysia Healthcare Travel Conference and Exhibition (MIHTE) in November missed one of the year's best industry events. Several colleagues commented favorably, admitting to pleasant surprise that a regional conference could come off with such a robust flair.

So what made the conference special? Off the top of my head, the balanced program and broad attendee base stand out, along with the professionalism that pervaded the conference. The differentiators are worth a second look. Below are a few attributes that impressed me:

Hospitality: I should have known at the outset that something was different. A few minutes after stepping off a long red-eye into Kuala Lumpur's international terminal, I was greeted by three smiling MIHTE representatives who presented me with my badge and offered assistance. Upon arriving at the conference hotel, two MIHTE greeters emerged from the throngs and escorted me to registration. Similarly, the long walk to the conference site took participants through massive hotel lobbies, resort venues, and shopping malls. It seemed every time I got lost there was a courteous MIHTE rep to point me in the right direction and otherwise offer assistance. I saw this repeated to delegates, sponsors and exhibitors alike during the course of the first day and throughout the event.

Global outlook, regional focus: The MIHTE program did not attempt to blanket the medical travel universe. Instead, program organizers took great pains to place Malaysia, its partners, and competition into its appropriately regional context. Conferences in our sector most often attempt to be everything to everyone, ignoring what should be clear by now-that various regions and sub-regions have widely divergent patient flows, market goals, cultural considerations and the like.

Well-conceived, balanced program:  Too often health travel conferences focus solely on clinical care within a relatively narrow medical framework (particularly true of Ministry-sponsored events). Not so with this conference. For example, organizers recognized that expatriate retirement in Malaysia is a large and rising market, and the “Malaysia My Second Home” session helped participants understand the importance of a vibrant healthcare system to the initiative. Similarly, wellness and tourism topics were brought to the forefront, helping to showcase strong points ancillary to Malaysian healthcare.

Luminaries: Kudos to the organizers for the vision to not only bring in new faces, but some star quality, as well. Jeremy Abbate, publisher of Scientific American's Worldview, did a superb job of hosting the closing session and bringing fresh perspective to the event. Emmy-award winner Peter Greenberg, one of the world's top travel correspondents, seemed to be everywhere at once, and conducted a three-hour radio show on Malaysian tourism and healthcare. This type of forward thinking serves to broaden media, industry and consumer attention, promoting awareness outside the confines of healthcare and medical travel.

Healthy exhibitor base: Regional medical travel conferences are too often plagued by lackluster exhibitor representation, a few scattered, often unattended booths with poor signage and presentation. MHTC used its clout to attract more than 80 exhibitors, creating a robust exchange amongst key government, commercial and consumer stakeholders.

Plenty of time for networking: Program-happy planners need to be mindful of creating formal and informal time for conference participants to meet, schmooze and conduct business. MIHTE allowed ample time between sessions and workshops for networking, and also graciously hosted some knockout dinner events and other social functions. FAM tours are also an important way for participants to get to know one another-not to mention the benefits of in-person facility review. Organizers did a good job of building this component painlessly into the itinerary.

Excellent follow-up: Most conference organizers bid their participants goodbye, send them on their way with a gift we try to stuff into our suitcases, not to be heard from again until it's time to promote next year's event. I appreciated receiving an informative and cordial follow-up report so soon after the conference, knowing that organizers went the extra mile despite their desire to surrender to post-event exhaustion.

Hospitality, hospitality, hospitality: Did I mention hospitality? “Patient-centric care” has become a buzzword in our sector; what better way to reflect a commitment to patient experience than through the warm, welcoming context that might lead a conference participant to expect the same service within the corridors of a medical facility. I am sure Peter Greenberg and others who were so impressed by this event would heartily agree.

About Josef Woodman
Josef Woodman is CEO and founder of Patients Beyond Borders, producer of print, online and mobile resources for international health travelers. He has spent more than six years touring 150 medical facilities in 30 countries, researching medical tourism and global healthcare. Co-founder of MyDailyHealth and Ventana Communications, Woodman's pioneering background in health, publishing and web technology has allowed him to compile a wealth of information about global health travel, telemedicine and consumer-directed healthcare demand.

Woodman has lectured at the UCLA School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, and Duke Fuqua School of Business, and has chaired and keynoted conferences on medical tourism and global healthcare in 14 countries. He has appeared in numerous print and broadcast media, including CNN, ABC News, Fox News, The New York Times, Barron's, The Wall Street Journal, and more. Woodman is an outspoken advocate of affordable, high-quality medical care for healthcare consumers worldwide.

Case Study

Implementing Medical Tourism into Worker's Compensation

Editor's Note: A veteran of the Insurance and Risk Management industry for more than thirty years, Richard Krasner is fast becoming medical travel's biggest champion, specifically as it applies to worker's compensation.

Readers may recognize Krasner's name from Volume 6, Issue 23 of Medical Travel Today in which his PERSPECTIVES column explored the barriers to medical tourism and worker's compensation.

Following up on that exploration, Krasner has prepared the fictional case study below to illustrate how it is possible for medical tourism to bring down the high cost of certain surgical procedures performed in US hospitals, and to demonstrate to employers, especially those already using medical tourism as an option on their self-funded employee health care plans, that they can do the same with workers' compensation claims.

Three construction workers, Juan, Pablo and Jorge, were working on a construction site, neither man operating heavy equipment. Juan was working with Jorge, putting up drywall, and standing on scaffolding, about 10 feet off the ground. Pablo, working at the other end of the scaffolding from Juan and Jorge, painted the drywall they both put up earlier. As Juan went to reach for another sheet of drywall, he lost his footing, causing the scaffolding to buckle. But when Jorge tried to catch him, the scaffolding gave way, and all three men fell to the ground.

Juan, who was from Mexico, fell on his left side, injuring his left hip. Jorge, from Costa Rica, had managed to face forward when he fell and hit the ground, injuring his left knee. Pablo, from Colombia, also fell forward, put down his paintbrush and paint can when the scaffolding began to buckle, and hung it on a hook on the outside left post of the scaffolding. Pablo managed to fall on his right knee, injuring it as well. All three were sent to an orthopedic doctor's office their employer selected from a list prepared by their state's workers' compensation bureau.

They were treated by the doctor, given prescriptions for pain medication, and told they could return to work if they felt no discomfort. A week later, all three complained of pain and said they could not work. They filed workers' compensation claims with their employer. When they went back to the treating doctor, he told them that since they initially did not complain of any serious pain or discomfort, he treated them for the contusions and other superficial injuries. But now he ordered that all three get MRI's for their injuries.

The MRI on Juan found a hip fracture that, owing to his age, suggested a total hip replacement. Otherwise he would never be able to walk normally, or even work. Jorge's MRI showed a fracture of the left kneecap, and Pablo's showed a similar fracture, but on the right knee. It was further determined that both Pablo and Jorge had injured their ACL's as younger men playing soccer in their home countries, so it was recommended by the orthopedist that they both get knee replacements as soon as possible.

When their employer was informed of this by their insurance carrier, their Risk manager happened to speak to the company's Employer Benefits manager, who recommended he look into getting the men treated in their home countries through medical tourism. The Risk manager had never heard of medical tourism, so he asked the Benefits manager to explain how it works. The manager told him that the company is self-insured for their employee's healthcare plan, and as an option, they allow their employees to choose to get treatment abroad through a medical tourism facilitator company they have contracted with.

When the Risk manager heard about the self-funded plan option, he wondered if this could be something he could use for his three workers' compensation claims. He told the Benefits manager that the hip and knee replacements would cost $50,000 each, and even though the insurance carrier was going to pay for it, it was going to affect his claim severity, which would impact his experience modification, causing a rise in insurance premiums. The Benefits manager told him that they could each get their surgeries in their home countries at lower cost, and at the same or better quality than in US hospitals. The Risk manager asked the Benefits manager to get him comparative prices for each procedure in the three home countries of the injured workers, and he would try to get the insurance carrier to go along with it.

A couple of days later, the Benefit manager sent the Risk manager the following table comparing hip and knee replacement costs in the US with the costs for each in Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico. As seen in Table 1, a hip replacement in Colombia cost $6,500. In Costa Rica a hip replacement cost $12,500, and in Mexico a hip replacement cost $13,000. Knee replacements in each country were as follows: $6,500 in Colombia, $11,500 in Costa Rica, and $12,000 in Mexico.

Table 1*


The insurance carrier was unsure of the quality of treatment and skill of the treating physicians in those countries, but as the company vouched for their quality and skill from the employees who had used it under the self-insured health care plan option, they agreed as long as the company was satisfied this was what the employees wanted. All three men, when told of the option of being treated in the US or in their home countries, opted to take the medical tourism option. What had made it possible for them to choose this as an option was the fact that the total cost of the procedure included airfare for each man and his spouse, plus accommodation, as well as the cost of the surgery and hospital stay.

As Juan had older children, his oldest married and living close by to the family, they could watch the other children while he and his wife were away. Jorge's children would stay with his wife's relatives nearby, and Pablo's children would come with him and his wife, since he was able to find a low fare for the two young children. Also, the fact that the hospitals they were going to were some of the best in their home country, made them feel better that they could get such great care at a very good hospital. It would help their self-esteem and make their friends and families back home very proud.

When they returned to the US, they had healed much faster and in better spirits than if they had not chosen this option. Although they could not work again at their old jobs, they nevertheless got good jobs with the same company that did not put them in such dangerous positions before their accidents. They became more productive as a result and their employer was pleased with the outcome. The Risk manager, with the approval of the president of the company, included a medical tourism option for all future severe workers' compensation cases.

*Author's Note: the figures used in this case study were based on those found here: http://www.medicaltourism.com/en/compare-costs.html

About Richard Krasner

Krasner has worked in the Insurance and Risk Management industry for more than 30 years in New York, Florida and Texas in the Claims and Risk Management spheres, primarily in Workers' Compensation Claims, Auto No-Fault and Property & Casualty Claims Administration and Claims Management. In addition, he has experience in Risk and Insurance Business Analysis, Risk Management Information Systems, and Insurance Data Processing and Data Management.

Krasner is available for speaking engagements and consulting.

Phone: 561-738-0458
Cell: 561-603-1685
Email: richard_krasner@hotmail.com
Skype: richardkrasner

Perspectives

Laszlo Puczko on Travelling for Health – 2013 and Beyond

Travelling for health has been and probably will be one of the most important reasons to travel both internationally and domestically. There are many brackets of travelling for health products, from surgical motivations to spiritual interests. The Tourism Observatory for Health, Wellness and Spa (TOHWS an initiative of Xellum Ltd.) is the first and so far the only specialist think tank that looks at all aspects of the spectrum. This holistic approach is especially important because definitions, terms used, available assets and traditions differ greatly country-by-country or culture-by-culture.

Last year was a very busy year for TOHWS since we launched the path-making Global Wellness and Spa Tourism Monitor (GWSTM) 2012-2013 project in October. The GWSTM is an annual survey of service providers working in the wellness and spa spheres. The objective of the monitor is to analyze trends in demand and product development globally and to understand the importance of tourism for wellness and spa providers.

The GWSTM enjoys professional support from leading international organizations and associations such as the Pacific Asia Travel Association, European Tourism Council, Asia-Pacific Spa and Wellness Coalition and national organizations, such as the Hungarian Bath Association, Brazilian Spas and Clinics Association or German Wellness Association, as well as private companies, such as Leading Spas of the World, Starwood Hotels or Danubius Hotels. We thank all 53 of them for their trust and support.

The data collection GWSTM will close in January 2013, but we can already share some preliminary findings that show how the industry will develop in the near future. The monitor already has data from over 40 countries and from over 15 different wellness and spa service providers (from resort spas, through mineral spring baths and lifestyle-oriented centers to holistic retreats). Already, this figure highlights the importance of such global initiatives as GWSTM since we can indicate the existing differences not only geographically, but also by type of service providers.

It is wonderful to see how signature treatments and rituals are becoming more and more important for wellness and spa service providers, especially those based on local assets and traditions (beyond globally acclaimed brands). For example, the symbol of peace, progress and unity - the national flower of Singapore, the Vanda Miss Joaquim - was the inspiration for a Signature Essence.

Maybe not so surprisingly the industry makes a clear distinction between what local customers and domestic and international visitors may prefer. For example, they believe that family spas and wellness facilities will play a dominant role in the near future for domestic travelers. The industry also believes that eco-spas and wellness facilities, destination spas, spas based on natural (healing) resources will be important for international travelers (beyond the standard wellness hotels).

The GWSTM will introduce data on service providers and services according to local customers, and domestic and international travelers, since the differences seem to be rather significant. Just to give one example, the further customers travel to a wellness and spa facility the more dedicated and health conscious they are and more likely they will become so because of the treatments.

Our previous forecast from 2010 had already predicted, and now we can confirm, that therapies based on natural resources with proven benefits (e.g. thermal water, mud) and Body-Mind-Spirit/holistic programs/workshops (e.g. yoga) will be in demand by international visitors, while lifestyle-oriented programs/workshops (e.g. stress management, nutrition) will also play an important role for domestic travelers.

The forecast for 2013 is showing the same trend that service providers experienced in 2012 over 2011, i.e. minor growth in almost every indicator but with stagnation in terms of average length of stay. Certainly there are important regional differences in terms of demand forecasts.

Service providers mostly package wellness and spa services together with events and festivals, and a significant percentage focus on conference and business travelers, whose shifts are clear indications of moving away from the single women-focused traditional strategy. It is also interesting to see how important and widespread wet areas in every wellness and spa facility have become in the last couple of years.

The Monitor's information covers segmentation, targeting, product development, human resources and cooperation trends. We can see that travelers who pay attention to their health, either as primary motivation (e.g. lifestyle-based services) or an additional service they consume during travel (e.g. visiting a hotel spa) have become more and more important as a customer segment in almost every type of wellness and spa category. The GWSTM 2012-2013 final results will be available from the new website of TOHWS from the end of February 2013, and the detailed findings will be presented for the first time at the European Spa Convention in London (February 24, 2013).

We are also delighted to lead on another global initiative. We are working on the second and revised edition of our book on travelling for health. The first edition back in 2008, entitled Health and Wellness Tourism (published by Butterworth-Heinemann), was the first-ever professional title that applied a holistic and global approach, and looked at what was happening all over the world in health and wellness travel. The second edition, Health, Tourism and Hospitality: Spas, Wellness and Medical Travel, has a wide range of contributors and case studies from over 20 countries (such as the US, Iceland, Hungary, Israel, Kyrgizystan, Iran, Qatar, India and China). We discuss local, regional and global developments and trends (including from Russia, various parts of Africa and South-America and other regions and countries), such as culturally defined wellness and medical rituals, natural healing assets applied in wellness and medical treatments, or evidence-based spa, wellness and medical practices and procedures. The book is due to be published in Q4, 2013.

Industry News

Josef Woodman Blogs About Medical Travel on huffingtonpost.com

Editor's Note: Fresh from a healthcare conference in Malaysia, Josef Woodman, author of the highly successful “Patients Beyond Borders” series, was quick to pen/type a blog for the Huffington Post on how the US may find some inspiration for improving healthcare by studying some of the most successful medical travel destinations.

To read the blog, Toward Opening a Practical Dialogue on Improving US Health Care, in its entirety, click here.

Industry News

TravelMarket Report: 2012's Year of Milestones in Medical Travel
by Maria Lenhart

2012 was a landmark year for medical tourism, as news-making events drew attention to the sector's rapid growth as well as its emerging potential for travel sellers. High points included the first-ever Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference; Walmart's introduction of medical travel coverage for employees, and the continuing development of internationally accredited medical facilities around the globe. The approval by the Supreme Court of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, was a significant development, though its impact on medical tourism in the years ahead remains uncertain. In the travel trade press, Travel Market Report took the lead in its coverage of medical tourism, featuring in-depth interviews with medical tourism experts about key trends, as well as practical advice for travel sellers on how to tap this lucrative niche market. Here's a look at important medical tourism developments in 2012.

Historic Conference Brings Med Travel Industry Together
In June, the Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference marked a milestone for the burgeoning medical tourism industry. The event brought together, for the first time, stakeholders from the key sectors, including travel agents, medical travel facilitators, suppliers and medical travelers for the first time. The conference was hosted by Travel Market Report and its sister company Well-Being Travel, which was founded five years ago to foster travel agent participation in the fast-moving medical travel market. About 400 people attended the event, which was held at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"We saw that the missing link in medical tourism was the travel side," explained Anne Marie Moebes, executive vice president of Well-Being Travel, during a press conference at the conference. "There was clearly a need for someone who represents the consumer. This had not been looked at as a separate niche before." (See: Historic Conference a Milestone for Medical Tourism Industry)

Walmart and Boeing Co. Offer Med Travel Coverage
This past fall, Walmart and Boeing became the latest prominent companies to offer their employees medical travel coverage for treatment at medical facilities out of their home areas. Walmart's coverage, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2013, offers coverage at six healthcare facilities around the country; Boeing's coverage, already in effect, extends only to the Cleveland Clinic. The companies joined the ranks of companies such as PepsiCo and Lowes, which already offer medical travel coverage. Medical travel experts heralded the developments as evidence that employer-sponsored medical travel is a growing trend. (See: Walmart Offers Medical Travel Coverage to Employees)

Medical Destinations Emerge Worldwide
From Ohio to Malaysia, the number of internationally accredited healthcare facilities targeting medical travelers is skyrocketing. Asia is a particular hot spot for development of outstanding medical and wellness facilities, largely because of demand from a rising middle class in the region, according to Josef Woodman, publisher of the medical travel guides Patients Beyond Borders. There is also plenty of activity closer to home. One example noted by Woodman, who travels the globe researching facilities, is a state-of-the-art medical facility in the Bahamas where patients can have their own doctor flown in from the US. Despite growing treatment choices overseas, travel sellers in North America should focus on short-haul travel for patients seeking non-critical care such as testing or dental procedures, Woodman advised. "The likely candidate is not someone going to India for a serious procedure like a heart bypass," he told Travel Market Report. (See: Medical Travel: The Time for Agents is Now and Keep an Eye on Asia, Med Travel Expert Advises)

How Will Obamacare Impact Medical Tourism?
After the Supreme Court gave its seal of approval for the Affordable Care Act on June 28, 2012, Travel Market Report sought the opinions of medical travel experts regarding the impact of healthcare reform on the burgeoning medical travel market. The consensus was that the major drivers behind medical tourism likely will continue unimpeded. "Americans and Canadians will continue to travel abroad and domestically for healthcare, whether it's to a Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins or other facility," said David Boucher, president of Companion Global Healthcare, a partner with Well-Being Travel. "They are looking for safety and service, which are both leading motivators to travel for healthcare. Price is only the third consideration." (See: Healthcare Reform Unlikely to Slow Medical Travel Growth, Experts Say)

Med Travel Advice: Think Globally, Act Locally
Why is medical travel growing into an important niche for travel sellers? Laura Carabello, publisher of Medical Travel Today, told Travel Market Report that the increasingly global nature of both business and healthcare is a key factor. Improved air access and the fact that medical facilities around the world are promoting themselves to medical travelers are among other forces, she said. Carabello urged travel agents to look to their current clients, particularly those who are high income, as potential clients for medical tourism. "They should tell them about medical travel and about international spas and wellness centers," she said. "They may even have clients who need treatments that aren't available in the US." She also advised agents to get the word out in their communities by making presentations before local organizations. "This can be a real market differentiator for agents."
(See: Globalization Seen Accelerating Growth of Medical Travel)

White House Tourism Strategy Encompasses Medical Travel

The appointment of Steven Thompson, CEO of Johns Hopkins Medical International, to the US the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board in February gave the medical travel industry representation in President Obama's tourism initiative. Thompson is one of 32 members of the board, which advises the Commerce Department on policies and issues affecting travel and tourism. "I enthusiastically accepted the appointment, due to the importance and growing demand for US education and health services coming from the international community," Thompson told Travel Market Report. "The adoption of travel policies that encourage and support growth in international travel are vital to these business sectors within our economy."
(See: Med Travel Gets Voice in Obama's Tourism Strategy)

 

Industry News

Mercury Health Travel Issues Moratorium on Medical Tourism Coordination to India

Amid the ongoing uproar over the gang-rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi earlier this month, the latest case has again shone the spotlight on the police's handling of sex crimes.

One police officer has been fired and another suspended over their conduct after an assault on a 17-year old Indian girl was gang-raped during the festival of Diwali on November 13 in the Patiala region in the Punjab, according to officials. The teenager was found dead after she committed suicide after police pressured her to drop the case and marry one of her attackers, police and a relative said on Thursday. Her body was discovered on Wednesday night after swallowing poison. Inspector General Paramjit Singh Gill said that the teenager had been "running from pillar to post to get her case registered" but officers failed to open a formal inquiry.

Mercury Health Travel currently has contracts with healthcare providers in several cities throughout India for medical tourism. Mercury Healthcare International's CEO and founder, Maria Todd had this to say in an official statement, "This situation is an urgent public health priority. It is perhaps the most shameful human rights violation, in conflict with Millenium Development Goals (3,4,5 and 6) and a significant peace and security issue. To turn a blind eye to the matter can only be explained by ignorance, greed, or irresponsibility.

Mercury Advisory Group, the firms global health consultancy arm works on global health development projects around the world funded by international development banks in support of the Millennium Development Goals. Todd explained that to react with complacency to this particular situation is a professional and social responsibility conflict of interest.

...As a women-owned business, with the awareness of this danger to women, our inspection staff and consultants, and our clients, Mercury Healthcare International has temporarily stopped all health travel coordination to healthcare providers throughout India. This affects our our client referrals from the USA, Canada, West Africa, and neighbor market group health client expatriates. We hope that other medical tourism facilitation firms will responsibly follow our lead and suspend steerage of medical tourism clients into India until new laws to cover attacks on women are in place and there is proof of enforcement."

During an address to the chief ministers of India's states on Thursday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pledged to bring in new laws to cover attacks on women. Official figures show that 228,650 of the total 256,329 violent crimes recorded last year in India were against women, but in reality, the number of incidents is thought to be much higher as so many women are reluctant to report attacks to the police.

Upcoming Events

IBMS Mumbai India Mini-Medical Tourism Conference Slated for January 17-18, 2013, in Mumbai

IBMS Mumbai invites healthcare providers and medical facilitators to discuss and explore the advantages of treatment abroad at the India Mini-Medical Tourism Conference to take place January 17-18, 2013, in Mumbai.

Attendees will have the opportunity to meet Vijay Sharma, MBBS, M.D., cosmetic surgeon India, executive director of IBMS India, take extensive tours of two medical facilities/institutes specializing in medical tourism, and discuss initiatives of the International Board of Medicine and Surgery.

The cost for this event is $495.00 USD.

To register, click here.


Kuwait Medical Tourism Congress and Exhibition Scheduled for March 2013

Kuwait Medical Tourism Congress and Exhibition invites local, regional and international best hospitals and medical tourism facilitators for a three-day convergence focusing on networking among the stakeholders, high quality of medical services, and the investment opportunities in healthcare throughout the world.

Slated for March 19 - 21, 2013, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Kuwait, the event will see the participation of some of the leading names in the medical tourism and healthcare industry. The conference will comprise workshops conducted by renowned international speakers. The workshops will cover topics that range from medical tourism, current medical research initiatives, the latest innovations in the health sector, future business opportunities in healthcare, insurance, and healthcare quality to the globalization in healthcare.

To learn more or to register click here.


International Medical Travel Exhibition & Conference Slated for March 2013

The first truly global exhibition and conference dedicated to medical travel is slated for March 22-23, 2013, at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco.

Designed to provide a unique opportunity to discuss the latest trends and developments in the medical travel world, IMTEC 2013 offers a combination of exclusive presentations, case studies and panel discussions. Delegates will be able to gain adoptable and sustainable models that can be implemented into an organization directly after the conference.

To learn more about exhibiting or attending visit IMTEC 2013.

To download the show brochure, please click here.


International Medical Tourism Exhibition & Conference (IMTEC Oman 2013)

April 8 – 10, 2013 - Oman International Exhibition Center, Oman

The first International Medical Tourism Exhibition and Conference (IMTEC Oman 2013) will bring together international organizations in medical tourism to identify prospective business opportunities and allow service seekers to find quality healthcare providers. IMTEC Oman 2013 provides healthcare professionals, international hospitals, health insurance companies and consumers the chance to learn about emerging trends and areas of medical tourism, share ideas, build a reputation among the stakeholders, and meet the potential consumers under a single roof.

To learn more or register click here.



Global Connected Care Conference & 4th Meditour Expo

June 5 and 6, 2013 Hyatt Regency - Orange County, CA

This two-day international conference will bring together professionals from all over the world to discuss the latest trends and opportunities in global healthcare. The conference will include presentations by some of global healthcare's biggest decision makers and thought leaders. Conference themes include:

  • Global Physician Referral Networks and Patient Care-The Next Generation of Care
  • Self-Funded Insurance Groups-Providing Healthcare Travel Alternatives
  • Business Processes and Advanced Global Healthcare Marketing Strategies
  • Integrating Global Healthcare Technologies with Medical Travel
  • Legal Issues in Global Care
  • Accessing the US healthcare market: both inbound and outbound
  • Dental Tourism
  • M-health, Telemedicine and Electronic Healthcare Information Platform

To learn more or register click here.


6th Annual World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress

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November 3-5, 2013 – Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, NV

The 6th Annual World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress, taking place in Las Vegas, will bring together leaders of the medical tourism industry. This event is expected to have up to 2,000 domestic and international delegates, more than 10,000 pre-arranged networking meetings, up to 400 buyers of healthcare services, up to 200 sponsored buyers through the Buyers VIP Program, up to 140 exhibitors and sponsors, delegates from over 90 different countries and cocktail receptions and entertainment each night.

The theme of this year's congress is “Creating Partnerships: Collaborating with global colleagues and creating new affiliations and partnerships – Networking to find the best partner.” As part of this theme, the Congress will be integrated with the Employer Healthcare and Benefits Congress.

Industry leaders from around the world will be participating in select round table discussions, such as the Ministerial Summit which will feature Ministers of Health, Tourism and Economic Development from around the world who will exchange ideas and gain knowledge to improve medical tourism in their respective countries.

To learn more or register click here.

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.


News in Review

PressTV.ir: Malaysia's Booming Medical TourismPressTV.ir - Malaysia is fast becoming a choice destination for medical tourism. Malaysia received more than half a million foreigners seeking medical treatment last year, a ten-fold increase over the past decade. Most of the medical tourists are from Asia, but there is also a growing number of Westerners coming to benefit from the lower medical costs and shorter waiting lists.

Taiwan Economic News: Medical Tourism Arrivals to Taiwan up 156 Percent to 100,000 in 2012
CENS.com - Taiwan witnessed 100,000 medical tourists this year, far exceeding the goal set at 60,000 and surging 156 percent from last year's 39,000, according to Walter Yeh, executive vice president of Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA). Revenue generated by medical tourism is estimated at NT$70 billion (US$2.33 billion), of which 40 percent is generated by mainland Chinese. Such value is expected to rise 20 percent in 2013 and TAITRA hopes Taiwan's medical tourism can surpass that of South Korea in five years.

Lawyers.com: Medical Tourism Growing with the Rising Cost of HealthcareLawyers.com - Need a new hip, some dental work, perhaps a gastric bypass, but don't have the cash or insurance to cover it? Millions of Americans are choosing foreign destinations for medical or cosmetic procedures to escape the expensive US healthcare system. In some cases, insurance carriers even encourage the aptly named practice of medical tourism to cut down on their own costs. It sounds almost too good to be true: Get affordable treatment in an exotic location which, even with airfare and sightseeing taken into account, will still cost far less than seeking similar medical care back home.

London Free Press: Medical Tourism Booms in Costa Rica
LFpress.com - When Canadian house cleaner Marlene Trithardt needed a tooth replaced, she drove past her local dentist's office in Alberta and flew to the beach paradise of Costa Rica - to save money. Trithardt is one of a growing number of North Americans who turn south for medical care, lured by lower prices, contributing close to 0.8 percent of Costa Rica's gross domestic product.

Cosmetic Surgery Times: Cosmetic Surgery Common Reason for Medical Tourism CosmeticSurgeryTimes.com - Nearly a third of people surveyed across the globe say they're open to traveling abroad to undergo surgical procedures at a lower cost. The survey, conducted by independent market research company Ipsos on behalf of Reuters News, may reflect the perception of superior medical care in other countries, Nicolas Boyon, senior vice president of Ipsos Public Affairs, told Reuters.

Taiwan welcomes medical tourism from China
Taiwan's National Immigration Agency (NIA) announced last week that Taiwan has eased the regulations for Chinese visitors coming to Taiwan for medical treatment in order to boost the economy.

Editor's Note: The information in Medical Travel Today is believed to be accurate, but in some instances, may represent opinion or judgment. The newsletter's providers do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any of the information and shall not be liable for any loss or damage caused - directly or indirectly - by or from the information. All information should be considered a supplement to - and not a substitute for - the care provided by a licensed healthcare provider or other appropriate expert. The appearance of advertising in this newsletter should in no way be interpreted as a product or service endorsement by the newsletter's providers.