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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

Aster Medcity to be Commissioned by October 2013

Five Top Reasons Medical Tourism is Growing in Costa Rica

MHTC Expects 20,000 Medical Tourists from India as a Major Market

Gujarat Government to Develop State as Medical Tourism Destination

Investigation at Caribbean Tourist Spot Reveals Mistreatment of Endangered Sea Turtles

Heroic Australian Paramedic Spends Life Savings to Travel to the US and Donate a Kidney

Spotlight

Retired Maj. Gen. James Marks, Chairman, ADVON Healthcare

Perspectives

Camille Hoheb: Expanding Wellness Travel Concepts: Synergy between Wellness and Cultural Tourism

Perspectives

Richard Krasner: The Stars Aligned: Mexico as a medical tourism destination for Mexican-born US workers under Workers' Compensation

Industry News

Medical Tourism Training Announces New Team Members for International Healthcare and Medical Tourism Businesses

The Wall Street Journal Examines The Challenges of Doctor's Visits Via Webcam

Turkey, Azerbaijan Discuss Cooperation in Medical Tourism

Nueterra Seeks to Make Healthcare A Global Proposition

Upcoming Events

East Mediterranean Tourism & Travel Exhibition (EMITT) 2013

ITB Health Tourism Battle - ITB Destination Day at the ITB Berlin Convention 2013

Kuwait Medical Tourism Congress and Exhibition Scheduled for March 2013

2013 CMTR European Medical Tourism Research Symposium

International Board of Medicine and Surgery (IBMS) Mini Medical Conference

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 2

By Amanda Haar, Editor

Greetings,

As with many industries, success often comes as a result of making the right connections. This issue is dedicated to making the right connections in medical travel.

From a startup healthcare technology company that's working to facilitate patient-doctor interactions globally and finding connections between wellness and cultural tourism, to cooperation between countries and one man's experience of having “the stars align” into a revelation about worker's compensation and medical travel.

We hope you'll enjoy reading about these interesting connections and perhaps make a few of your own as a result.

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

Retired Maj. Gen. James Marks, Chairman, ADVON Healthcare

SPOTLIGHT: Retired Maj. Gen. James Marks, Chairman, ADVON Healthcare



Publisher's Note: For those readers who would like to know why General Marks has the nickname “Spider” scroll to the end of the interview and learn from this amusing story!

Medical Travel Today (MTT): Why is the Advon business model answering a market need?

James “Spider” Marks (JM): The thing that makes Advon so appealing is that it facilitates the requirements among the three healthcare touch points: medical/healthcare facilities, doctors and patients -- providing access to world-class care that wouldn't otherwise be available either locally or elsewhere.

The real issue is that when you discuss medical care, everyone assumes that it is in terms of what is available immediately around the corner. In this increasingly flat world, the definition of what the corner looks like has changed dramatically. You could have medical care almost anywhere, so it really goes beyond medical tourism and looks more like generating maximum usage and facilitation among those three separate points.

MTT: Are the existing facilities sufficient, or is more development required?

JM: Many of the facilities that exist in developing places around the globe are, in fact, world-class. However, they are not populated by sufficient quantities of qualified medical doctors and lack a robust, experienced staff with eclectic blends of capabilities.

But this can be achieved in a very smart way by identifying and marrying together doctors who are available to participate. This will require different functionality and skill sets, ranging from primary care to specialists such as orthopedics, gynecology, epidemiology and others.

The patient base is available and the demand exists.

MTT: The objective is to really maximize the capabilities of an existing infrastructure?

JM: The goal is to establish partnerships at the hospital department level so that a very thick bandwidth of relationships is in place. The next step is to identify the patient-client base that has specific requirements -- and you marry them up.

The idea is to put the right engine in the middle and drive the activities. In essence, Advon becomes the “Intel inside” of medical care.

MTT: So this could be in any location in the world?

JM: Yes, it could be. But we are being careful not to dilute our resources and chase after every potential opportunity.

Where there are facilities that have certain existing capabilities and reputations, it is feasible to drive occupancy without concern.

For example, many point to Thailand as a perfect place to get a hip replacement. This might be exactly what the individual wants and needs, because Thai hospitals utilize new scientific techniques and Thailand is the place to have it done.

What we don't want to do is chase after business needs that are already being met by others. Our model is not Doctors Without Borders. Concierge medicine more aptly describes the high-end part of our platform, and it provides an incredible niche for our business model. But it really is separate and distinct from what we're trying to describe here.

MTT: Who are your potential customers, your clients? How would you describe your market?

JM: The term medical tourism may not be completely accurate to describe our target market or clientele. We are talking about the ability to move in a direction with a very specific target in mind to solve a medical problem. This requires access and abilities that wouldn't be available to everyone.

MTT: Are there three distinct services that you are providing - telehealth, concierge medicine and, of course, developmental work in those areas -- that may require a higher level of medical and healthcare expertise?

JM: Yes. Very specifically, the concierge medicine platform can essentially stand on its own as a business model, one that would require very aggressive marketing to make sure you are touching the right folks. But the definition and its core make eminent sense.

For developing areas that have a long-term requirement for enhanced medical care through the creation of the medical infrastructure, the process begins with acknowledgement by the population that there is, in fact, a problem.

The development of an infrastructure allows you to address the issues, and then the population of that infrastructure sustains it.

MTT: Does concierge medicine work for every type of environment?

JM: I think it is a model that makes tremendous sense, but it starts where government dollars and government intervention get in front of the model…concierge medicine from the bottom up.

If you could get that top-down commitment, it is unlikely that there will be a migration to a traditional form of concierge medicine.

But concierge medicine could migrate in the direction of helping those developing countries to solve problems, with any eye on building a functional delivery model. Essentially, you create what that model looks like and link it to specific locations.

MTT: Please expand upon the telehealth or telemedicine component of Advon and its importance to medical travel.

JM: The conversation of telehealth or telemedicine begins and ends with robust access to electronic medical records (EMRs). As a nation, we still have a way to go. This is a classic example of letting a thousand flowers bloom -- which is great and should happen.

I don't think that the EMR should be centralized. Heaven forbid that the government reaches in and says, “Here's the solution for EMRs.” If that happens, we'll surely screw it up for the next four years.

However, we've reached a point where individual solutions in the information technology (IT) world, and specifically those that are EMR, can be part of an open architecture so that they can flow easily and be queried.

There should be no difference between my EMR and yours. Of course, privacy concerns must be overlaid on top of the platform.

Physicians should be able to sit down wherever they are located and pull up sufficient data with clarity and precision. This ability would allow them to help the patient and providers who are on the other end.

This is not hard to implement. We have figured this out and need to wrap the business model around the concept.

MTT: Are language barriers formidable for the implementation of EMRs?

JM: Multiple languages are not an issue. First and foremost, there are sufficient automatic language translation (ALT) services available. While it is an imprecise science, it gets pretty close.

We haven't yet created a software application that allows you to instantaneously, or with some level of delay, go from one language to another language with a level of clarity that you would expect.

But you can get the gist, or at least get a summary, of what is being said. A doctor could sit down in any language and pull up what the primary concern is -- if not the precise information on what happened and when it occurred.

Most everything in medicine is precise -- it's a universal language. So, I don't think language is a barrier, but we certainly have ways to work through that. It's just a matter of dedicating space in a facility to improve the process.

MTT: That's very interesting because when I speak to these doctors, the language barrier is cited as one of their major challenges in dealing with the international market.

JM: Translation should not pose a problem. During my service career, I was in charge of all language development requirements and the application language skills.

It is hard to achieve a level of excellence in language: in other words, training individuals to speak another language is very difficult and takes time.

Then there are the elements of total immersion, and we all understand this phenomenon. We know how the brain works and how it picks up a different language at different stages. Apparently, when you're a child you're more inclined to learn a different language.

My point is that you could overcome all of that.

The doctor doesn't need to have someone sitting next to him who speaks the language. It certainly would be helpful, but there are ways to facilitate those interactions via telemedicine or a virtual approach that would allow care to be delivered according to recognized standards.

MTT: That it is going to be a very welcome message. Can the Advon business model be replicated in multiple geographic markets?

JM: I would say yes. It is a matter of defining the requirements and the ability of that particular market to accommodate the various movements that would have to be in place.

It starts with a government that is willing to accept the application of medical care that is fraught with a whole dose of danger - and the movement of doctors who would have to be certified in specific nations in order to provide medical care.

So the short answer is yes. There's no real restriction to how it is done. But an important factor is the level of hygiene that exists. There are some places in the world that are just “basket cases,” and we know where they are.

But in order to provide a capability, there has to be a business model that allows for the establishment of a facility -- whether it is temporary or temporary that leads to permanent.

You have to get beyond altruism in trying to solve all of the world's problems. There has to be an incentive to do that, and Advon has the capabilities to perform.

A receptive government on the receiving end must acknowledge there are things that it must do to facilitate and meet the needs of its people.

MTT: What is the strength of Advon in accomplishing these goals, and why is the depth of Advon leadership so key to the success of this company?

JM: Look at the names. Look at the skill sets.

In every position on the Advon team, there is a combination of medical professionals, as well as senior military leaders, who have served in all operations and environments. They've seen medical and societal issues that normal citizens in their lifetimes will never see.

The sense of the unknown is minimized. Everybody on this team has a tremendous set of experiences, so we are not ambushed by new requirements, and actually form the delivery of quality care.

We've seen it and we've lived it. We also have problem solvers. These are people who have been senior leaders in the military, and that's what they are fundamentally trained to do: deliver solutions.

They understand the problem, acknowledge its various elements and then deliver honest, honorable solutions in a way that is repeatable.

You try to avoid being lucky. What you want to do is be good -- because you understand what it is that you are engaged in. So if you're lucky all of the time, it is not a repeatable event. You want to establish processes that are repeatable, and you do that through knowledge and by understanding practice.

This is what Advon brings to the table.

MTT: I would think that is a key market differentiator - if anyone tried to replicate your breadth of services, they would not have that type of team available.

JM: They wouldn't.

I hate to say it, but we've been in situations where we've not only seen it all -- but we've seen it all and have been shot at.

And so we've been able to work our way through the environmental conditions to provide the quality care that you would see in your neighborhood clinic. I think that is highly significant.

There are a lot of issues out there and there are a lot of problems that could be solved. I think Advon is positioned in a way to make a significant difference.

MTT: Even a hybrid company would not have this experience or perspective.

JM: The key thing is that this is a business.

In many folk's eyes, even in the altruistic world of medical care and delivery, there are those that would look at this and see it as a competitive space. They would not want to embrace it -- even though they themselves would benefit and could, in fact, increase their ability to be successful.

MTT: Do you want to point to any imminent activities?

JM: I would say that we are on the cusp of several great opportunities that will help to define Advon and its core capabilities.

These activities might accelerate our corporate pace or validate the direction of the Company. We will be positioned to make announcements in very short order. Again, we are positioned in such a way that we can grow accordingly.

MTT: Your background and military service are quite impressive. Can you also share with our readers how you got the nickname “Spider”?

JM: Essentially, I was a tall, skinny kid -- and am still tall and relatively thin. When I played football, I looked like a spider. A bunch of friends just starting calling me “Spider,” and I learned that there are two things in life that you can't pick: your parents and your nicknames.

When I went to West Point with five of my high school classmates, an impressive number from the same school, they carried along the nickname.

I tried to abandon the name because at West Point you want to remain anonymous and do nothing that might give you any sort of notoriety. But the name Spider has stuck with me since I was 17 years old, and I don't think it's going anywhere.

But all of the women in my life call me Jimmy, including my mother and my wife of 35+ years, who was present at the creation of this nickname during the time we met in high school.

MTT: Well, at least they don't call you Spiderman!

JM: You should see my office at home. My three daughters give me such incredible stuff. I've got this great Spiderman poster, and I just love it.

When I was in the Army's Intelligence Center, I was the Commanding General and had the duty much like every General Officer to honor our deceased soldiers. You preside and are the Commander at their funerals.

We represent the President of the United States, and it is humbling, as you can imagine. We are burying these great soldiers who have sacrificed all, and it just brings you to tears.

I did these a number of times, and at each one the governor of the state where this great young American was being buried sent a representative. On each occasion, that representative would come to me and say, “General, after you present the nation's colors, I request permission to present the state colors on behalf of the governor. Would you allow me to do that in your ceremony?”

The Army owns each ceremony and has a way of doing it. This is a request to do something a little different, and on each occasion I said, “Of course. Please thank the governor for his/or her support to our soldiers and their families. God bless you and yes, the answer was yes.”

MTT: Did you have the same experience in every state?

JM: For the most part it was the same. I've buried many soldiers and a few from the state of California. Arnold Schwarzenegger was the governor at that time, but he chose not to follow that tradition.

Now, I don't know that he consciously made a decision not to do so, but nobody on his staff had the smarts or the perspective to carry out the tradition in comparison to some of the other governors.

There was one very difficult burial/funeral that I had to attend. It was a soldier who I had sent into combat, and he had gotten killed -- so I took personal responsibility for his death. You just tear up.

Even for a crusty old soldier, it was very hard and the governor wasn't there -- he did not even have a representative present, and I thought it was really kind of BS.

I wrote a letter to Gov. Schwarzenegger, and said I found his actions unacceptable. Essentially, the tone of my letter was, “I'm disappointed in you Governor. I'm not sure what my expectations should be, but you confirmed my perceptions that you are narcissistic, self-centered and not surrounded by the right people.”

There is another expression in the Army, “If it feels good, don't do it.”

MTT: Did you send the letter? Was there a response?

JM: So while this letter made me feel really good, I'm basically shooting the bird to the governor and I'm giving him input. I've said that he should have done something and what it means to the families of these soldiers.

Essentially I was saying, “Let me tell you what it says about you as a leader in your state. You've chosen not to participate and you have every right to make that decision. You've chosen not to do it, so I'm disappointed in you, and I think it's bad form.”

So I gave that letter to a couple of my staff officers with whom I had a great relationship and really respected their thoughts.

They all said, “You know, Boss, do it - you should send this to him.” So I did. And here's the point of the story: the next day I had on my desk a picture that one of my soldiers had drawn. He knew I had written the letter, and he had read it.

The picture he drew was of Spiderman kicking the (expletive) out of the Terminator. I gladly embrace both Spider and Spiderman.

About Retired Maj. Gen. James Marks
A graduate of the US Military Academy, Gen. Marks has more than three decades of experience in the Intelligence field. During his career, he held command and staff assignments from infantry platoon leader and infantry company commander in the 101st Airborne Division to senior intelligence officer for the Coalition Land Forces during combat operations in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He concluded his career as the Commanding General of the US Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

Gen. Marks was co-founder and principal at Willowdale Services, and was president and CEO of Global Linguists. Currently, he resides in Virginia, is a contributor to the BBC and a military analyst for CNN.
His awards and decorations include: the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary and Service Medals, the Korean Defense Service Medal, and the NATO Medal.

Phone: +1-901-300-4407

Email: info@advonhealth.com

Address: 516 Tennessee St
Suite 421
Memphis, TN 38103

Editor's Note: for more on concierge medicine, see link (The red-carpet treatment) in NEWS IN REVIEW.

Perspectives

Camille Hoheb: Expanding Wellness Travel Concepts: Synergy between Wellness and Cultural Tourism

Editor's Note: Camille Hoheb is an advisor, speaker, researcher and travel writer specializing in healthy adventures of mind, body and spirit, as well as the founder of Wellness Tourism Worldwide (WTW), an international business dedicated to improving well-being and economic growth through travel. Towards that end, she has been exploring the link between wellness and cultural tourism. What follows are her thoughts on the synergy, as well as input from several seasoned travel and tourism professionals.

Consider how the mega million-dollar wellness industry is changing consumer choices, expectations, experiences and the wide-ranging possibilities for wellness travel.

From air transit experiences focusing on better nutrition, sleep and comfort to health-focused hotels to the ubiquitous fitness resorts and destination spas, there's no doubt that wellness is making its mark. Studies suggest that wellness travel is gaining momentum and expected to grow substantially over the next 10 years.

When one thinks of wellness, often “mind, body and spirit” are associated with the meaning. There are many definitions and models, some of which are broader in breadth, scope and interpretation. Take for example, the six domains of wellness based on intellectual, emotional, spiritual, physical, social and vocational aspects. Apply them to existing tourism products and opportunities multiply.

The challenge with any new trend is the need for a basic conceptual understanding and more and better information. “What Motivates YOU to Travel?” preliminary results of the US consumer travel survey, shows 80 percent of respondents felt that cultural tourism contributes to ones sense of well-being. Wellness and cultural travel bring life to areas such as engagement, intellectual stimulation, social exchange and learning.

Caroline Betata, CEO, Visit California, Sheila Armstrong, US Cultural Heritage Tourism Marketing Council, and Rosemary McCormick, Shop America Alliance, were interviewed to discus the link between wellness and cultural tourism.

Below are questions and answers about the synergy of wellness and cultural tourism in their own words.

Sheila Armstrong, US Cultural Heritage Tourism Marketing Council (www.uscht.com)

Camille Hoheb (CH): What are the social, emotional and intellectual benefits of cultural tourism?

Sheila Armstrong (SA): The cultural traveler is eager to learn about new destinations, explore and expand their knowledge of a particular interest or hobby. These interests range from automobiles to architecture, cultures to culinary, historic landmarks to heroes. These explorations result in increased education and knowledge, and contribute to the traveler's satisfaction of achieving a better understanding or discovery of a new idea or insight. Excitement, inspiration and innovation are just some of the positive emotional and intellectual benefits that result from cultural and heritage tourism experiences. The social benefits include meeting new people and sharing these times with friends and family.

CH: How is cultural tourism an economic generator?

SA: Studies show that the cultural and heritage traveler is the most lucrative travel segment in the industry. These travelers stay longer, spend more and travel more frequently. A groundbreaking research, The Cultural & Heritage Traveler Study, was conducted in 2009 and revealed that more than three-quarters of all US leisure travelers participate in cultural or heritage activities while traveling, which translates into 118.3 million adults each year. Cultural and heritage travelers contribute $192 billion annually to the US economy.

Rosemary McCormick, Shop America Alliance (www.shopamericatours.com)

CH:How do shopping tours contribute to a traveler's happiness, quality of life and/or sense of well-being? Please give examples.

Rosemary McCormick: Travelers are more relaxed and receptive to enjoying their vacation. They take the time to slow down and savor their time away from home, work and other day-to-day activities. They are prone to treat themselves to special purchases, unique meals and unique cultural experiences. They are apt to walk more and participate in physical activities, exploring new environments, and are invigorated by the newness and uniqueness of their vacation destination…. especially the outdoors activities.

Visitors also see this as a time to spend quality time with family and friends, to build lasting memories and create strong bonds. They value their vacation time as a time to de-stress, rest, laugh and reflect. It's an opportunity to renew and to be inspired. The result is that they are re-energized when they return home.

Caroline Beteta, CEO, Visit California (www.visitcalifornia.com)

CH: How does Visit California promote cultural tourism to consumers in a manner that highlights social, emotional, physical or intellectual well-being?

Caroline Beteta: Cultural travel is a big reason why people come to California - whether it's centers for world-class arts and culture like San Diego's Maritime Museum, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Symphony or somewhere in between. California also has a rich Gold Rush history that lives on in the colorful communities of the Sierra Foothills, where visitors can still pan for gold while exploring the old towns that helped establish our state: Nevada City, Auburn and the state's capital, Sacramento.

California is the place for both emotional and physical well-being with an abundance of exceptional health spas and wellness centers. Visitors can settle in for a day of pampering at The Golden Door or get in touch with their spiritual side at the Mahakankala Buddhist Center in Santa Barbara. In addition, the Golden State is Mother's Nature's playground! We're home to towering redwoods, majestic mountains, rivers, deserts, lakes and of course more than 1,100 miles of coastline. Visitors can be in touch with nature on every step of their trip.

We also work with Shop CA and The Cultural Traveler to promote tours that combine cultural experiences in every one of the state's tourism regions, with shopping and dining offers. These packages give visitors the chance to enjoy treasured cultural and heritage experiences as part of a broader vacation experience.

CH: Thank you to our industry experts for their expertise and contribution to this article.
In summary, because wellness means many things to many people, travel suppliers, sellers and destinations have a wide berth to deliver a variety of salient, meaningful and memorable wellness travel experiences.

More information on the results of the “What Motivates YOU to Travel?” survey will be published in an upcoming edition of Medical Travel Today. For more information visit: www.wellnesstourismworldwide.com

About Camille Hoheb
Camille Hoheb is an advisor, speaker, researcher and travel writer specializing in healthy adventures in mind, body and spirit. Ms. Hoheb is the Founder of Wellness Tourism Worldwide (WTW), dedicated to improving well-being and economic growth through travel. WTW provides research, education, development and promotion of well-being travel experiences. She earned her Master's degree in Health Care Administration, holds several certifications from the National Institute of Health and has held several advisory positions in health tourism and spa publications. Ms. Hoheb has lectured in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America, authored many articles and has been quoted in a wide variety of publications. www.camillehoheb.com

For a free download of the "Top 10 Wellness Travel Trends for 2013", please go to www.wellnesstourismworldwide.com

Perspectives

Richard Krasner: The Stars Aligned: Mexico as a medical tourism destination for Mexican-born US workers under Workers' Compensation

Sometimes the stars align, and a writer such as myself finds a topic to write about. This is what happened to me this week. The topic I found was Mexican workers getting medical treatment in Mexico for work-related injuries. The topic presented itself when I received a new blog post from Joe Paduda.

This was the first star to align. Joe's post was about the end of workers' compensation as a statutory benefit. In it, he discusses a recently released study by Peter Rousmaniere, one of my LinkedIn connections who writes about issues in workers' compensation. Peter's study, Workers' Compensation Opt-Out: Can Privatization Work?, looks at the Texas experience with an employer opt-out model of workers' compensation, and the proposal that failed in the Oklahoma legislature earlier this year. Under the Texas model, employers have three choices. They can stay in the statutory system maintained by the state, opt-out of the statutory system and create their own “non-subscriber” program, or opt-out altogether and risk legal liability.

The second star that aligned was an article written by Martha R. Gore, a freelance writer in national politics whose article was originally published at Examiner.com. The article was then published in Medical Travel Today, a medical tourism newsletter. The article was titled, Medical tourism in Mexico an answer to Obamacare restrictions for Americans?, and highlighted some of the factors that might make Americans consider traveling to Mexico to get medical services that Obamacare may restrict. These services include heart surgery, dental work, cosmetic surgery, orthopedic treatments and weight loss surgery. Gore pointed out that the Medical Tourism Corporation (MTC) stated that some new Mexican hospitals are state-of-the art and can be compared to the best in the world, with a recent boom in small clinics and surgery centers, as well as high-quality hospitals.

According to the MTC, Gore states, Mexican doctors often have more experience than American doctors, because either the procedure has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or was only recently approved. She also mentioned a study by University of California, Los Angeles researchers and colleagues that reported that almost a million California residents travel to Mexico each year for medical treatment and surgery. This was expected to increase in response to limitations under Obamacare. Gore's article also mentioned three hospitals that the MTC listed in their report.
The third star aligned when I read an interview in Medical Travel Today in their SPOTLIGHT section with Maria Todd, founder and CEO of The Mercury Healthcare Companies. Maria is also a LinkedIn connection of mine, and an expert in the medical tourism industry. This interview was prompted by several press releases from Mercury about their work in Nigeria and Mexico, where they were involved with the development of a cancer center. The interview also pointed out that they recently conducted several audits in Guadalajara as part of their work with healthcare clusters.

It then occurred to me that I should write about Mexican workers in the US going back to Mexico for work-related injuries because much of what I had received this week was about Mexico. Although Peter's study is more involved with insurance rather than medical tourism, the fact that Texas and Oklahoma are Southwestern states, and many of the workers there are Mexican, made this a perfect topic to write about. Add to this the result of the recent election where states like Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico gave Barack Obama a large percentage of the Latino vote. Texas and other Southern states may follow suit in the next cycles, and more Mexican workers will need medical treatment either under Obamacare once the immigration issue is settled, or under workers' compensation.

So this is when the stars aligned. Peter commented to me in one of our email conversations that Mexican workers might be more receptive to medical advice and instructions if delivered by a Mexican clinician. I told him that this was a good point, and then recalled that I mentioned something like this in one of my earlier posts where I created a fictional case study of a self-funded employer for both healthcare and workers' compensation that offered medical tourism to their employees from Latin American and the Caribbean as an option. In that post, I mentioned something someone else told me about the employee having better self-esteem, knowing that their families and friends back home could visit them, and that they would be able speak the same language as the hospital staff and be in a familiar culture -- all of which would translate into a better outcome and a faster recovery and return to work.

As more US states follow Texas' example and allow employers to opt-out of statutory workers' compensation, the possibility that medical tourism can become a part of their “non-subscriber” program increases. While many of the services mentioned in the Gore article are not generally covered by workers' compensation, there are rare cases where cosmetic surgery, dental work and weight loss surgery, -- especially since the National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc. (NCCI) recently released a report on co-morbidities in workers' compensation -- are covered. Even orthopedic treatments such as spinal fusion, knee and hip replacement or repair, which is covered under workers' compensation, would be lower cost and have better quality in Mexico compared with the US. So, the future of medical treatment in Mexico for workers' compensation looks promising, as soon as more Mexican workers here, both documented and undocumented, get healthcare coverage or are given an opportunity to gain citizenship under immigration reform. This would be a boon for medical tourism.

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

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

Medical Tourism Training Announces New Team Members for International Healthcare and Medical Tourism Businesses

Brookline, MA - Medical Tourism Training, Inc., a US-based training and consulting company, is pleased to announce the addition of two talented and high-powered team members who bring extensive experience working with international medical healthcare providers.

As former director of International Patient Services at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, Margaret Ball knows how to develop business for healthcare providers seeking additional local and international patients. From building internal teams and services to collaborating with external service providers, Ms. Ball offers her practical knowledge and results-oriented training and consulting skills to clients. Her focus is on establishing and improving international patient services, as well as working with healthcare and hospitality professionals to deliver superior customer service.

“My passion is to work with healthcare providers to develop the organizational strength to serve international and local patients,” states Ms. Ball. “I love the challenge of helping clients create the internal, as well as external, teams to achieve their goals.”

Deborah Lipman Slobodnik, co-founder and principal of Options for Change, is a senior organizational consultant and coach, with over 25 years of experience in developing leaders and building teams. Her ability to quickly identify the “pain points” and to customize successful interventions that change the behavior of both individuals and teams has made her a valuable resource to clients in healthcare, including Harvard Medical School, New England Medical Center, and Neighborhood Health Plan. Ms. Slobodnik is available to coach high-level executives, as well as to lead transformational initiatives, such as addressing the cost of bad behavior.

According to Ms. Slobodnik, “Underlying all change and growth initiatives is the need to change the culture. It starts at the top, but must be a systemic approach that ultimately creates a more collaborative, empowered workforce with multi-disciplinary teams working together to solve mutual problems. Ultimately, the process of change must mimic the desired outcomes. That's the trick.”

Elizabeth Ziemba, president of Medical Tourism Training, is delighted with the company's new team members. “With the addition of Ms. Ball and Ms. Slobodnik to our roster of international healthcare experts, including Pam Frank, Kari Heistad, Irving Stackpole and Vian Saleh, our clients have access to a broader range of knowledge and skills to help them grow their international healthcare and medical tourism businesses. It is a great way to begin the new year.”

Medical Tourism Training, Inc. offers a comprehensive package of training, education, and organizational development solutions to the individuals and organizations involved in the international healthcare and medical travel sector. With a focus on improving the patient experience, the company is the first to market affordable, convenient and easy-to-use eLearning solutions that are fully scalable and flexible. Medical Tourism Training delivers high quality, multi-lingual on-site training and consulting services designed to create measureable change for its clients.

Industry News

The Wall Street Journal Examines The Challenges of Doctor's Visits Via Webcam

Editor's Note: While some insurers and employers are intrigued by the potential cost savings of 24/7 doctor appointments via webcam, the trend is drawing criticism from state regulators and doctors' groups. A recent piece by Anna Wilde Matthews in The Wall Street Journal does a very nice job of examining the issue. You can find the story here.

Industry News

Turkey, Azerbaijan Discuss Cooperation in Medical Tourism

A delegation of representatives of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism held talks in Baku with their Azerbaijani counterparts regarding the development of medical tourism.

According to Turkish media, during the visit to Azerbaijan the Turkish delegation visited the tourism facilities, the Shahdag winter and summer tourism complex and also familiarized with other touristic places of interest in the country.

The sides exchanged experience in development of medical tourism.

The Turkish delegation stressed a great potential for development of medical tourism in Azerbaijan and expressed readiness to assist the development of various kinds of tourism in the country, as well as the development and implementation of joint programs and plans in this direction. 

Industry News

Nueterra Seeks to Make Healthcare A Global Proposition

Nueterra, a global healthcare management company, has significantly invested in making healthcare a global proposition.

“Healthcare is not restricted to geographic boundaries,” said Dan Tasset, chairman of Nueterra. On November 13 Reuters cited an Ispos study which stated that one out of five people would definitely consider traveling abroad to seek medical or dental treatment.

By adding business development specialists, support staff and regional presidents, Nueterra's capabilities span four continents. “The investment into healthcare being a global proposition is greater than just staffing,” said Tim O'Brien, chief operating officer for Nueterra. “Our expansion is developing relationships to improve healthcare.”

In 2012 Nueterra hosted its Borderless Healthcare Symposiums in the Bahamas, Peru and Barbados. “Throughout Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) we are establishing relationships with physicians, creating partnerships and improving healthcare,” shared O'Brien. The Borderless Healthcare Symposiums highlight seminars from ranked US physicians who educate international physicians on topics of interest.

Nueterra is increasing the level of care available in country, including tertiary care, such as transplants or cancer treatments, through the Nueterra Global Alliance, an international network of best-in-class doctors and health systems that can deliver specific care. The anchor facility for the Nueterra Global Alliance is Ochsner Health Systems, Louisiana's largest health system. Ochsner has treated the first patients from the Nueterra Global Alliance after a symposium event in the Bahamas. “We are thrilled we could help connect the physicians and create the partnership in the Bahamas,” shared Steve Harmon, chief executive officer of LAC and EMEA Operations. “Lives are being bettered because of Nueterra-we are taking healthcare forward.”

In Barbados Nueterra is partnering with a group of local physicians to create a community-focused healthcare facility. This proposed facility will include women and children's services, surgical specialties (orthopedics, neurosurgery, spine, general and ENT). Subspecialties not available on location will be accessible through telemedicine and specialist visits.

As patients continue to explore new healthcare options, Nueterra knows the future of healthcare includes international offerings and capabilities, and is positioned to provide healthcare access across the globe.

Upcoming Events

East Mediterranean Tourism & Travel Exhibition (EMITT) 2013

January 24-27, 2013 -Tüyap Fair Convention and Congress Center, Istanbul, Turkey

East Mediterranean Tourism & Travel Exhibition (EMITT) 2013, the fifth largest tourism exhibition in the world and one of the most important trade events related to the travel, tourism and hospitality industry in Turkey, will take place at the Tüyap Fair Convention and Congress Center, Istanbul, Turkey, January 24-27, 2013. Despite the economic crisis, EMITT is the only exhibition in the region that increased 25 percent compared to 2011, and 10 percent compared to 2012. Last year, the event hosted 4,500 exhibitors from 62 countries and 128,000 visitors, of which 57,000 were travel and tourism professionals and 71,000 visitors.

A plethora of activities will be offered at exhibition stands, adjacent halls and nearby venues, including:

  • Presentations
  • Press conferences
  • Cocktails
  • Theater shows
  • Gala dinners

The EMITT Exhibition will be open to tourism professionals during the first two days and open to the public during the last two. The Tüyap Fair Convention and Congress Center is accessible by car/taxi and free visitor shuttles from designated points.

To learn more or to register click here.



ITB Health Tourism Battle - ITB Destination Day at the ITB Berlin Convention 2013

March 7, 2013 - Messedamm 22
D-14055, Berlin

Following up on 2012's great success, the ITB Berlin Convention and visitBerlin will present the second round of the ITB Health Tourism Battle on ITB Destination Day, March 7, 2013. The event is designed to provide insight into international best practices, challenges and trends in health tourism -- a long-term tourism growth market. Worldwide, there has been an increase in the number of destinations and travel companies focused on health tourism and developing new products in this sector. The Health Tourism Battle will feature nine short and dynamic presentations in English on excellent, creative, unique or innovative products and destinations related to health tourism. Each four-minute presentation will be voted on by the audience, with the winner receiving an award and prize.

To learn more or 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.


2013 CMTR European Medical Tourism Research Symposium

April 26-27, 2013 - Heidelberg, Germany

The Center for Medical Tourism Research (CMTR) examines the business, clinical, economic, ethical, legal, marketing, operational, policy, social justice and societal impacts of the medical tourism, medical travel, dental tourism, health tourism, wellness tourism, fertility tourism, transplant tourism and retirement tourism industries worldwide.

The 2013 CMTR European Medical Tourism Research Symposium is open to all interested stakeholders in this emerging global industry.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Dr. Melanie Smith, Budapest Business School, associate professor and researcher in Tourism at the Budapest Business School in Hungary
  • Dr. Laszlo Puczko, managing director, Xellum Consulting, LTD, and teacher at the Budapest College of Communication and Business in Hungary

A conference fee of 50 Euros is due onsite. Government and student fees are 25 Euros with valid verification of government or student status.

To learn more or register click here.


International Board of Medicine and Surgery (IBMS) Mini Medical Conference

April 29-May 1, 2013
- Tampa Bay, FL

The International Board of Medicine and Surgery's (IBMS) Mini Medical Conference in Tampa Bay, Fla., will feature key speakers Dr. Sharma, executive director of IBMS India in Mumbai, and Dr. Rai of the India Medical Association.

During the conference, IBMS will meet with various institutions in the Tampa Bay area to share information about medical tourism.

To learn more or to 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

Aster Medcity to be Commissioned by October 2013

Ehealth.Eletsonline.com - Aster Medcity, a world-class infrastructure with top-notch technology, is designed to prop up medical tourism in India. Located on 38 acres along the banks of the Periyar River in Kochi, the first phase of construction is likely to be commissioned by October of 2012, says Dr. Azad Moopen, DM Healthcare chairman.

Five Top Reasons Medical Tourism is Growing in Costa Rica

CostaRicaNews.com - Lack of affordable health insurance plans, rising medical costs, long wait times for procedures, and the aging Baby Boomer population have led to the rising phenomenon of medical tourism, also called medical travel or international health travel, along with greater awareness of it all over the globe.

MHTC Expects 20,000 Medical Tourists from India as a Major Market

TheBorneoPost.com - The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) sees India as a major market to promote its medical services as the Indian economy becomes more linked with Southeast Asia. MHTC, a government-linked industry body, has endorsed 72 private healthcare facilities in Malaysia to promote medical tourism, a growing travel segment that brings together various stakeholders from healthcare and tourism sectors.

Gujarat Government to Develop State as Medical Tourism Destination

HospitalityBizIndia.com - Gujarat government is planning to develop the state as a medical tourism hub. Vipul Mittra, secretary of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Pilgrimage, Government of Gujarat, said the state has some of the best medical facilities, with plans for greater development of medical infrastructure. "We wish to develop Gujarat as a medical tourist destination," he was quoted as saying in a PTI report. He said the state has evolved as a tourist destination center in the last five to six years, and insisted that it has a lot to offer to the tourism industry as a whole.

Investigation at Caribbean Tourist Spot Reveals Mistreatment of Endangered Sea Turtles

WSPA-USA.org - A recent investigation by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has uncovered shocking cruelty and neglect of sea turtles at the Cayman Turtle Farm in the Cayman Islands, the world's last remaining sea-turtle farm. WSPA is lobbying for the farm to reform its practices to help both the turtles, an endangered species, and tourists, whose health could be at risk through coming into contact with salmonella and E.coli.

Heroic Australian Paramedic Spends Life Savings to Travel to the US and Donate a Kidney

TheKatyNews.com - Upon seeing the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and the ambush of the firefighters in Webster, New York, a heroic Australian paramedic decided to spend his life's savings to travel to the US to donate a kidney to save the life of a dying stranger from Minnesota needing a kidney transplant.

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.