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© 2014 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.

Laura Carabello

Laura Carabello

Managing Editor
Megan Kennedy

Table of Contents

From the Editor

From the Editor: This week in Medical Travel Today, Laura Carabello

News in Review

Future of Healthcare Lies in Medical Tourism

A Large Percentage of Dental Customers From the U.S.

Corporate Medical Tourism Raises Quality, Lowers Costs

Medical Tourism Continues to Flourish as U.S. Patients Seek Lower Cost Healthcare in Overseas Countries

Muntinlupa Lawmaker Wants Bigger PH Slice: $40 Billion Medical Tourism Pie Eyed

Medical Tourism Service Explains How Cancer Patients Can Save Money on Treatment

Hospital Safety Improves for Heart Patients, Study Finds


Pablo Castillo, CEO, MedBrick

Industry News

Laura Carabello Moderates IHC Medical Travel Panel Discussion

Electronic Medical Records Market to Grow Significantly by 2017, Allowing Greater Profitability and Efficiency in the Healthcare Industry, says GlobalData

Average Cost of a Hip Replacement in the U.S.

Expert Sees Rapid Growth for Health Travel

Big Name, Expensive Hospitals Don't Necessarily Provide Best Care

Saudi Aramco and Johns Hopkins Medicine Launch Healthcare Joint Venture

Three Out of Four Travel Agents Report Growth for Spa Travel in 2013

The Truth of the Matter: Off to Nogales, Mexico

"Medical Tourism: Crossing Borders for Healthcare" 

Farzad Mostashari, M.D., Joins Get Real Health Board of Directors

Conference "Report Back"

Upcoming Events

Fourth International Conference on Health, Wellness & Society

Kuwait Medical Tourism Conference 2014

Moscow International Medical and Healthcare Tourism Congress

International Medical Tourism Promotion Summit & Exhibition 2014

2nd Almaty Medical and Health Tourism Mart

Medical Travel Summit 2014

IHC Forum & Expo 2014

10th Asia Pacific Travel Health Conference

Medical Tourism Asia 2014

28th International Travel Expo

The Health Tourism Show

6th Regional Conference of the International Society of Travel Medicine

8th Annual Global Spa & Wellness Summit

IMF International Medical Forum and Spa & Wellness: Healthcare Travel Expo

Mexico Summit on Medical & Wellness Tourism Business

Health Tourism Expo Turkey

IHC Forum West 2014

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Volume 7, Issue 24

Dear Colleagues:

I am honored to report that this newsletter and my experiences - nearly 15 years ago - with domestic medical travel have been featured in the February 2014 issue of Delta Sky Magazine! The medical travel piece entitled, "Paying Less for the Best," written by Kevin Featherly, focuses on the growing domestic medical travel industry and the push for high quality, low cost healthcare options. To read more about my personal experience with domestic medical tourism and where the industry is headed, view the original article here

This week, read about MedBrick, a Canadian-based company specializing in travel assistance, medical cost containment and medical tourism in Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada, that offers professional healthcare management services to a variety of organizations and individuals internationally.

Pablo Castillo, CEO, MedBrick, discusses the company’s position in the healthcare industry and attributes its overall success to its multifaceted presence in both the insurance industry and the medical travel space.

I am also pleased to announce that I will moderate a panel discussion on medical travel, "ALL ABOARD! U.S. Centers of Excellence Banking on Employer and Payer Uptake of Domestic Medical Travel Benefits," during the Institute of HealthCare Consumerism’s (IHC) 5th Annual IHC FORUM & Expo Conference, on Thursday, May 8, 2014, between 3 p.m. - 4 p.m., in Atlanta, Ga. It will be a great meeting and an opportunity to showcase your offerings in medical travel. http://www.theihccforum.com/2014-ihc-forum-and-expo/

Please be in touch and let me know how you are surviving and thriving in this emerging marketplace. 

Laura Carabello
Editor and Publisher
Medical Travel Today

Global Health Voyager

2013 IHC Forum West



Global Health Voyager

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SPOTLIGHT: Pablo Castillo, CEO, MedBrick


About Pablo Castillo
Pablo Castillo is CEO at MedBrick, a Canadian company specializing in travel assistance, medical cost containment and medical tourism in Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada.

In 2000, Pablo graduated from Bishop's University in Quebec. Since then, he has been involved in the health insurance industry and developed strong expertise in the medical cost containment and travel assistance fields.

Through a growing network of medical providers in Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada, Pablo and MedBrick are reaching out globally, providing specialized and reliable services to insurance carriers, assistance companies, third party administrators and individuals looking for medical services abroad.

About MedBrick
MedBrick is proudly a Canadian-based company located in the province of Quebec. The firm was founded in 2010 by a team of service-oriented healthcare specialists. We offer our services to:
- Organizations doing business in international markets;
- Individuals looking for medical or specialized care abroad.

Our workforce combines expertise and dedication in the services we offer. With many years of experience in the Healthcare and Travel insurance industries, we are continuously focused in exceeding customer service standards.

Medical Travel Today (MTT): Can you provide our readers with some background on MedBrick and how it has evolved since its launch in 2010?

Pablo Castillo (PC): MedBrick offers professional healthcare management services to a variety of organizations and individuals internationally. Initially, MedBrick began working with a select number of insurance assistance companies from Canada, and has gradually developed into offering services to both insurance carriers and assistance companies in North America and Europe.

We work with a number of health insurance and travel assistance companies in North America, Spain, Germany and, of course, Latin America-which has become our market of expertise.

Specializing in medical cost containment, MedBrick helps companies and individuals find providers who offer quality medical care at an appropriate cost by negotiating claims with providers, performing negotiations prior to directing patients into facilities, and/or auditing bills.

MTT: What is it about MedBrick's unique approach that allows the company to be successful?

PC: MedBrick's success and ability to stand out in the industry is attributable to the multifaceted dimensions of the company. We partner with medical providers from different countries in Latin America and offer our services to clients, whether they are corporations or individuals seeking medical care abroad.

MedBrick handles both insurance business and medical travel, creating the opportunity for additional exposure-especially considering that many organizations only focus on one aspect of the industry.

MTT:In terms of medical travel, are Latin American countries actively attempting to further develop the industry?

PC:Absolutely. As the medical travel industry continues to evolve and expand, we are seeing more and more countries in Latin America getting involved.

A number of events covering medical travel continue to surface, as well, which is great for MedBrick, providers and individuals in different locations who wish to enter the medical travel market and offer care to companies and individuals within their countries.

MTT:Have you noticed any particular marketing tactics that healthcare facilities, doctors or industry professionals use in order to advance the medical travel industry?

PC:There has definitely been an increase in social networking utilization, as well as an overall growth in technology familiarity.

As more healthcare providers and professionals begin to develop their online communities and increase awareness regarding the industry, the more likely it is for additional individuals and facilities to become interested in entering the international market and attracting patients globally, as well.

MTT: Costa Rica has been a leading destination for medical travel-is this still the case?

PC:Yes, I would place Costa Rica in the top three destinations in Latin America for medical travel.

Costa Rica was involved in the medical travel industry long before other countries showed any interest, allowing the opportunity for growth, development and advanced knowledge in terms of treating international patients.

MTT:Has the recent 15 percent tax increase for professional services in Costa Rica impacted the volume of medical travel in the area?

PC: It is always possible to find reasonable rates despite the taxes in Costa Rica because there are plenty of new vendors consistently emerging and offering their services - and generating more competition rather than discouraging it.

Costa Rica is an extremely popular destination for travelers as it is, especially travelers within a close proximity, such as Americans and Canadians. People not only reflect on the attractiveness of the country's cost-effective, quality medical treatment, but also its desirable amenities, as well.

MTT:Based on the current medical travel trends in Latin America, where do you see the future of the industry headed?

PC: I have different visions for different destinations in the industry.

Mainly, due to the close proximity and affordability, I see Mexico as an emerging country in medical travel for North Americans.

The Mexican government has a strong interest in generating positive exposure internationally for Mexico. The country has slowly been removing the negative stigma it endured for several years because of drug wars and, instead, is now emerging as one of the top three destinations in Latin America for medical travel because of its exceptional quality of care.

There is a lot of potential for the entire industry. Countries such as Nicaragua, Panama and Columbia are doing a great job promoting themselves internationally, and it is just a matter of time before they receive more exposure and further develop into prominent medical travel destinations.

Industry News

Laura Carabello Moderates IHC Medical Travel Panel Discussion
Institute of HealthCare Consumerism's (IHC) 5th Annual IHC FORUM & Expo Conference, Thursday, 3 p.m. - 4 p.m., May 8, 2014, Atlanta, GA

Laura Carabello, founder and principal, CPR, and publisher of Medical Travel Today and U.S. Domestic Medical Travel™, will moderate a panel discussion on medical travel - "ALL ABOARD! U.S. Centers of Excellence Banking on Employer and Payer Uptake of Domestic Medical Travel Benefits" - during the Institute of HealthCare Consumerism's (IHC) 5th Annual IHC FORUM & Expo Conference, Thursday, 3 p.m. - 4 p.m., May 8, 2014, Atlanta, Ga.

"The fast-growth phenomenon of U.S. domestic medical travel -- inter-state to Centers of Excellence (COEs) throughout the country, inbound to the U.S., and outbound to destinations worldwide - is capturing the attention of employers, payers, third party administrators, insurance companies and other intermediaries throughout the world," Carabello says. "With the growth of HSAs as well as self-funding, a domestic medical travel benefit is now gaining traction among small, medium and large employer groups."

The United States is now one of the top three destinations worldwide for medical travel, and receives as many as 800,000 international patients seeking help with the most difficult health conditions. As a result, and in the new era of health reforms, Americans are witnessing:

  • Rapid adoption of domestic medical tourism: travel to another state or region within U.S. borders
  • Employer receptivity to introducing a medical travel benefit
  • Consumer willingness to travel to other parts of the United States to access quality care with improved outcomes
  • Increased demand for more cost-effective care that meets budget requirements

"There is growing interest among U.S. hospitals, providers and Centers of Excellence to attract foreign patients," Carabello adds. "Physician-owned ambulatory surgi-centers are participating in this growth trend, as well. International patients are often cash-paying customers and originate from countries where there are significant financial resources but limited healthcare infrastructure or access to quality diagnostics or care."

This session will examine the top volume procedures for medical travel, track the growth of the industry, evaluate the positioning of provider organizations and COEs, and review initiatives by some of the nation's largest employers to introduce domestic medical travel programs. With the implementation of healthcare exchanges, and amid mounting challenges for balancing quality and cost-savings, this discussion will help conference attendees to evaluate their participation in a medical travel program.

Medical Travel Today would like to extend to you a discount registration code for the only Conference Series 100 Percent Dedicated to HealthCare Consumerism Progress, Collaboration and Education.

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...that has been at the forefront of the healthcare consumerism mega-trend as we witness one of the most monumental shifts in our industry’s history.

Wondering what specifically you will take away from the 2014 IHC FORUM & Expo? Read our Attendee Takeaways.
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Industry News

Electronic Medical Records Market to Grow Significantly by 2017, Allowing Greater Profitability and Efficiency in the Healthcare Industry, says GlobalData

  • Electronic medical records (EMR) market value to increase from $10.6 billion in 2012 to $17 billion by 2017
  • EMRs can "provide opportunities to enhance productivity, capture profits and improve clinical outcomes," says analyst

The market for EMRs is set to experience rapid growth over the coming years, with EMR peer group value estimated to climb from approximately $10.6 billion in 2012 to $17 billion by 2017, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 9.8 percent, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData.

The company’s new report* estimates that McKesson had the largest healthcare information technology software and services revenue in 2012, with $3,300 million, placing it as the EMR market leader. McKesson is followed by Cerner and Allscripts, which achieved revenues of $2,666 million and $1,477 million, respectively.

According to GlobalData, this rapid EMR market growth is due to incentives offered under the American Relief and Recovery Act of 2009, which delivers opportunities for providers to transform unstructured, paper-based data into electronic digitized information that can be shared across the entire care industry.

Adam Dion, GlobalData’s analyst covering Industry Dynamics, says, "Physicians are selecting and implementing EMRs that meet federal requirements for meaningful use, and which also fit their practices and provide opportunities to enhance productivity, capture profits and improve clinical outcomes."

In addition to providing platforms for sharing patient information, GlobalData states that EMR vendors are offering Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) solutions to physician practices to bridge the gap between clinical and financial information.
Dion says, "One of the many RCM solutions is GE Healthcare’s Centricity Business, which supports traditional reimbursement models for greater profitability and efficiency by standardizing all clinical and administrative staff onto the same financial platform.

"With the ever-changing world of healthcare regulations and reimbursement schedules, hospitals and health systems need solutions with the flexibility to handle diverse billing needs," Dion concludes.

PharmaSphere: Healthcare IT Software and Services Report - Vertical Market Analysis of Leading IT Business Process Outsourcing and Electronic Medical Record Vendors

Notes to Editors
This report discusses the various platforms, service models, and go-to-market strategies of the major players in the Information Technology Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and Electronic Medical Records (EMR) markets. It also provides an assessment of vendor strategies, outsourcing agreements, significant deals and corporate developments, and contract vehicles signed by these BPO and EMR firms over the past three years.

This report was built using data and information sourced from proprietary databases, primary and secondary research, and in-house analysis conducted by GlobalData's team of industry experts.

For guidelines on how to cite GlobalData, please see: http://www.globaldata.com/QuotingGlobalData.aspx

About GlobalData
GlobalData is a leading global research and consulting firm offering advanced analytics to help clients make better, more informed decisions every day. Our research and analysis is based on the expert knowledge of over 700 qualified business analysts and 25,000 interviews conducted with industry insiders every year, enabling us to offer the most relevant, reliable and actionable strategic business intelligence available for a wide range of industries.

For more information, please contact our Press Office on +44 (0)1204 543 537 or at pr@globaldata.com.

Industry News

Average Cost of a Hip Replacement in the U.S.

A blog site entitled, "I Waste So Much Time," compares the high cost of healthcare in the U.S. to other countries, specifically Spain, through a collection of text and pictures.

To view the original article click here.

Industry News

Expert Sees Rapid Growth for Health Travel
by Ana Figueroa

Travelmarketreport.com - As more travel suppliers, medical facilities and nations around the world invest in health and wellness travel, the appeal and accessibility of such travel is broadening. 

Coupled with consumers’ growing interest in health travel of all types, the developments are driving rapid growth in health and wellness travel, according to author and educator Laszlo Puczko, Ph.D. 

"It is no longer travel only for the rich and famous. There’s more democratization. That should be good for agents," he told Travel Market Report.

Comprehensive new book
Puczko is co-author, with Melanie Smith, of a comprehensive book on the subject, "Health, Tourism and Hospitality: Spas, Wellness and Medical Travel," Second Edition (Routledge, December 2013).

The new, completely revised edition covers "all aspects of traveling for health, everything from medical and surgical procedures to holistic and spiritual activities," said Puczko. "We also include spas, hotels and the hospitality sector. We wanted to show how broad this topic has become in the last couple years."

Puczko is head of the School of Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality at BKF University of Applied Sciences in Budapest. He is also the founder of The Tourism Observatory for Health, Wellness and Spa and head of Tourism at Xellum Advisory Ltd. 

Travel Market Report spoke with Puczko for an update on health and wellness travel and where travel agents fit into the picture.

What are the global trends in medical and wellness travel? 
Puczko: We’re seeing a lot of convergence. By that I mean that hospitals and hotels are combining to offer services to travelers. 

Traditional service providers and assets - places such as India, Thailand, China and the Eastern European thermal springs - are developing new facilities and nicer hotels where guests receive treatments. Even the most average places these days are offering their spas as a wellness center.

What other trends are you seeing?
Puczko: One brand new trend is that people are traveling for holistic and spiritual reasons, as opposed to religious reasons. For example, there is great interest in visiting all sorts of chakras - earth chakras, heart chakras. And not just in India. One of the earth chakras is outside Budapest.  

We’re also seeing very specialized wellness clinics spring up. There’s also a focused development of retreats, ashrams and hideaways in secluded areas. These are becoming more popular and offer a wide variety of services for the health and wellness traveler. 

Where are the emerging destinations for this type of travel?
Puczko: South America is developing eco-spas and adventure and wellness spas. Dubai and the Gulf area have built some amazing spa facilities. And the Caribbean is another area where they are building up wellness getaways for the luxury market. 

The industry has developed rapidly in last five or 10 years. Now, you can find a very wide variety of services literally anywhere.

It seems as if more destinations are recognizing the potential. Countries are eager to develop national strategies for health and medical tourism clusters.

What about medical procedures?
Puczko: The medical treatment side is still new in terms of invasive procedures. We’re seeing travel for dental treatments, plastic surgery or in vitro fertilization (IVF). 

For invasive procedures, the trend for North Americans is to travel to Latin America. Also, for evidence-based medicine, medical/thermal spring-based therapies, Southeast Asia is emerging. 

What are the reasons people travel for medical treatment?
Puczko: People are traveling for convenience and the faster availability of a procedure. They travel for price or even for a celebrated physician or hospital. 

You say that agents are a major link that is still missing in the field. What do you mean?
Puczko: I mean that various aspects of this business very much need travel agents. Agents help a lot by communicating to the industry why people travel. They know what motivates their clients and have a tremendous amount of information about them. 

But agents are not as well-served at the moment as they can be. The problem is that the medical, wellness and spa industry doesn’t necessarily understand tourism. 

How can that be addressed so that agents play a more important role?
Puczko: It’s a basic problem with the way things operate. Spa hotels are outsourced: spa managers don’t talk to the front desk -- hospitals don’t speak to tourism people. 

Even at medical tourism events you will see government officials, facilitators and hospitals. Many of the organizers of events don’t deal with travel agents at all. 

The industry is missing out on a great opportunity. The fact is old routines don’t provide new business. 

What additional trends in the field should agents know about? 
Puczko: They should know that this is an area of rapid growth. I’ve been an educator and trainer in this field for 15 or 20 years. I can tell you that all around the world, everyone is buzzing.

Major hotel chains are looking at health and wellness travel. Deepak Chopra is working with Qatar Airways on an onboard well-being program. Lufthansa is investing lots of money on medical tourism specialist services. 

It’s not yet mainstream travel, but it’s more available. It is no longer travel only for the rich and famous. There’s more democratization. That should be good for agents. 

To view the original article click here.

Industry News

Big Name, Expensive Hospitals Don't Necessarily Provide Best Care
by Zack Budryk

Fiercehealthcare.com - Hospitals' reputations and prices have little bearing on their care quality, according to a new study published in Health Affairs.

For the study, researchers analyzed almost 25,000 insurance claims from current and retired autoworkers in 10 metropolitan areas: Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, St. Louis, Flint, Mich., Warren, Mich., Toledo, Ohio, Youngstown, Ohio, and Buffalo, N.Y. The workers visited 110 hospitals, divided into three categories:

  • Thirty "low-price" hospitals, where prices were at least 10 percent below average;
  • Fifty "medium-price" hospitals, which were not defined in the study; and 
  • Thirty "high-price" hospitals, where prices were 10 percent or more above average.

To view the original article click here.

Industry News

Saudi Aramco and Johns Hopkins Medicine Launch Healthcare Joint Venture
Joint venture to build a sustainable healthcare center of excellence and strengthen healthcare services in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Aramco, a fully integrated global energy and chemicals enterprise, and Johns Hopkins Medicine, a leading U.S. academic health system with extensive experience in elevating care delivery worldwide, today inaugurated a first-of-its-kind healthcare joint venture in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The new company, Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare Company, will begin operations on February 1, 2014. Saudi Aramco and Johns Hopkins Medicine each have an indirect ownership interest in the Saudi-registered company. The healthcare joint venture will bring together Saudi Aramco’s long established healthcare delivery system and its approximately 350,000 beneficiaries and the world-renowned clinical, education and research expertise of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare will deliver high-quality healthcare to Saudi Aramco’s employees and their families. The partnership will enable growth and diversify and strengthen the provision of medical services in the Kingdom.

"This partnership will result in a comprehensive transformation to further enhance our healthcare standards, and marks the beginning of a new level of care with new lines of treatment, new and enhanced specialties and subspecialties. It will also enable new forays into research and medical education as well as create opportunities for education and training of medical staff," said Abdulaziz F. Al-Khayyal, senior vice president of Industrial Relations at Saudi Aramco.

Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare is expected to fuel clinical innovation, serve as a model in the provision of healthcare and contribute to the development of the healthcare industry in alignment with Saudi Aramco’s commitment to enabling growth, opportunities and diversification within the Kingdom’s economy.

For more than 80 years, Saudi Aramco has established a strong, comprehensive healthcare system that delivers on the company’s commitment to provide quality healthcare to its employees and healthcare beneficiaries. The company has been instrumental in building one of the first hospitals in Saudi Arabia.

On a broader time scale, Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare will seek to improve population health through scientific innovation, clinical care, and training of clinicians, nurses and health care professionals - the very principles that have defined Johns Hopkins Medicine throughout its 124-year history. 

"Together, we will be greater than the sum of our parts, because this joint venture combines Saudi Aramco’s existing health system with the transformative science, clinical care and education that Johns Hopkins is known for," said Paul B. Rothman, M.D., dean of the medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare will become an incubator for clinical and scientific progress and will address some of the region’s most pressing health challenges, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions, which are on the rise worldwide."

"It is a privilege for us to collaborate with Saudi Aramco to carry forth its commitment to improving the health of its employees," says Steven J. Thompson, CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine International. "Doing so will be mile one on a long journey to enhance the well-being of the entire community, and represents a next-generation approach to global collaborative health care."

Media Contacts
Ekaterina Pesheva
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Office: +1-410-502-9433
Mobile: +1-410-926-6780

Sarah Palmer
Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare
Office: +966-13-877-8853
Mobile: +966-533-087-774

About Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare
Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare Company (JHAH) is the result of a joint venture between Saudi Aramco, a fully-integrated global energy and petrochemicals enterprise, and Johns Hopkins Medicine, one of the world’s leading academic health systems. This healthcare organization is designed to drive and enhance the well-being of the community in an environment of growth and learning, by providing innovative, integrated and patient-centered care to Saudi Aramco’s employees and healthcare beneficiaries.

Since 1933, Saudi Aramco had delivered a high standard of medical care to its employees and their families through its own medical services organization. In 2013, Saudi Aramco partnered with Johns Hopkins Medicine to carve out and expand the capabilities of its medical services through Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare, drawing upon the vast expertise of The Johns Hopkins University and The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System to provide clinical program development, research, training, safety and quality, and healthcare administration expertise.

Over the coming years, this global collaboration will contribute significantly to health and well-being in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare will evolve into a center of excellence that provides enhanced specialty and subspecialty services, new lines of treatment, research and education that address some of the most significant healthcare challenges in the region.

About Saudi Aramco
Owned by the Saudi Arabian Government, Saudi Aramco is a fully integrated, global petroleum enterprise and a world leader in exploration and producing, refining, distribution, marketing and petrochemicals manufacturing. In addition to its headquarters in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Aramco, through its affiliates, has joint ventures and subsidiary offices in China, Japan, India, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. For more information, visit http://www.saudiaramco.com

About Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM)
Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, JHM is a $6.7 billion integrated global health enterprise and one of the leading academic healthcare systems in the United States. JHM unites physicians and scientists of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with the organizations, health professionals and facilities of The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System. JHM's vision, "Together, we will deliver the promise of medicine," is supported by its mission to improve the health of the community and the world by setting the standard of excellence in medical education, research and clinical care. Diverse and inclusive, JHM educates medical students, scientists, healthcare professionals and the public; conducts biomedical research; and provides patient-centered medicine to prevent, diagnose and treat human illness. JHM operates six academic and community hospitals, four suburban healthcare and surgery centers, and more than 35 Johns Hopkins Community Physicians sites. The Johns Hopkins Hospital, opened in 1889, was ranked number one in the nation for 21 years in a row by U.S. News & World Report. For more information about Johns Hopkins Medicine, its research, education and clinical programs, and for the latest health, science and research news, visit http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org.

About Johns Hopkins Medicine International (JHI)
Johns Hopkins Medicine International (JHI) facilitates the global expansion of the Johns Hopkins Medicine mission: to improve the health of the community and the world by setting the standard of excellence in medical education, research and clinical care. JHI provides personalized, culturally appropriate care for patients traveling to Johns Hopkins from outside Maryland and the United States, and for local patients with limited English proficiency. JHI also leverages Johns Hopkins’ extensive knowledge base in medicine, nursing, public health, medical education, research and healthcare administration to improve health and healthcare delivery through sustainable, high-impact collaborations throughout the world.

Industry News

Three Out of Four Travel Agents Report Growth for Spa Travel in 2013

SpaFinder Wellness 365’s "State of Spa Travel" report reveals how critical female bonding is to the spa travel segment - and heightened desire for more exotic destinations, from Cambodia to the Czech Republic

Spafinder Wellness 365™ today released key findings of its 2013 "State of Spa Travel" report, designed to provide annual insight into the health of, and emerging consumer trends in, the North American spa travel* market.

According to the study, a significant majority (73 percent) of travel agents reported growth in bookings to hotel, resort and destination spas in 2013. The survey also shed light on the evolving spa traveler demographic, revealing that "women traveling with other women" represents the number one way people now journey to spas, and that Gen X is slowly overtaking Baby Boomers as the age group most likely to book spa travel. The findings are based on a survey of over 300 North American travel agents completed in Q4 2013.

"This new data provides fresh evidence that what we’ve been hearing about the growth of the wider wellness tourism category is undeniably true. And it also proves that spa travel is on the rise in North America, which is the now the world’s largest wellness travel market, generating over 40 percent of the total dollars spent in that global segment," said Mia Kyricos, Spafinder® Wellness, Inc.’s chief brand officer.

Growth in 2013: Last year’s survey revealed that 2012 was a rebound year for spa travel after the long recession: 68 percent of travel agents reported growth, up from 37 percent in 2011. But in 2013 agents report even more momentum: 73 percent of U.S. and Canadian agents experienced growth in spa property bookings last year, while another 23 percent say they remained about the same as in 2012.  

Deals Stay Very Strong: Despite economic and travel market recovery, a strong "deal culture" seems to be a permanent fixture of the hotel/resort spa market - continued great news for consumers. Thirty-two percent of agents report that global resort/destination spas were actually more aggressive with special pricing/packages in 2013 over 2012, with 53 percent claiming that the spa deals continue just as strong as in 2012. (Only 15 percent report declines).

Gen X and Youngest Boomers = Core Spa Travelers: Wellness-obsessed Baby Boomers (now aged 49-68) fueled the wider spa revolution and have for years represented the main spa traveling demographic. For 2013 agents reported that the number one age group most likely to book spa travel is 46-55 (the very youngest Boomers), followed very closely by those aged 36-45 (Gen-Xers). Also significant: the very young, 26-35-year-old group now trumps those over 65 (which includes the eldest Boomers) for spa bookings. As demographic groups age, the story of who is in their peak earning/spending years is also naturally re-written.

This Is Female Bonding Travel: For the first time the survey asked agents how spa-goers most typically travel, and they reported that women traveling together ranked number one by solid margins. This was followed by 2) a woman traveling with a man; 3) women traveling solo; 4) families/intergenerational groups; 5) men traveling solo; and 6) men traveling together. Clearly, spa resorts’ marketing and property offerings need to speak to women looking to do a little "spa bonding," as well as pay close attention to the lone female spa traveler. And it’s notable that family groups outpaced men either traveling solo/together, given that just a few years ago the spa was quite the opposite of a family affair.

Increased Desire for Total Wellness Experiences: Agents reported on what spa programming now matters most to clients, and traditional pampering retained its number one spot for the seventh straight year (important to 96 percent). But in 2013 there was notably more parity in traveler demand for other key spa elements: agents reported that health/wellness offerings like exercise and weight loss are now important to 84 percent, mind-body-spirit programming is important to 68 percent, and nature/adventure experiences like hiking, water sports, etc. are sought by 67 percent. So, for the first time, agents claimed that all four, key spa components were important to at least two-thirds of their clients: further evidence that the spa traveler increasingly seeks comprehensive, integrative wellness options at destinations, mixed with ‘pure pampering.’

Top U.S. Spa Regions: Agents reported on which U.S. regions now attract the most North American spa travelers, and the West Coast reclaimed the top spot from Hawaii in 2013. The rankings: West Coast, Hawaii, Southwest, Southeast, Northeast and Midwest.

Fastest-Growing Global Spa Regions: Agents also weighed in on which international spa destinations are growing fastest with North American travelers in comparison with 2012. The top five: the Caribbean, Mexico, Asia, Europe and Central/South America.

Increased Demand for Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations and Authentic, Local Experiences: Given the luxury travel market’s resurgence, travel agents were queried on how this wider category is evolving. The top two luxury travel trends identified were: 1) Travelers seeking more exotic, off-the-beaten-path destinations (62 percent reporting); and 2) Travelers seeking immersion in more unique, indigenous cultural experiences, vs. generic luxury at destinations (57 percent reporting). Luxury travelers increasingly want a wide, wide world of destinations to explore - and authentic, hyper-local experiences when they get there.

A New, Bigger Spa Travel Map: Given that the top luxury travel trend identified was demand for more exotic locations, agents were also asked to submit countries they felt were getting significantly hotter with the North American spa traveler. While dozens of nations from the Dominican Republic to South Africa received numerous votes, the clear standout was Costa Rica. Other top Central American up-and-comers: Belize and Nicaragua. In South America the standouts were Argentina and Chile. In Europe, The Czech Republic, Croatia and Turkey garnered the most responses, with Italy, Ireland and Slovakia also making a strong showing. For Asia, Cambodia, India, the Maldives, Myanmar and Vietnam made the most agents’ "getting hotter" list - and in Africa, South Africa and the Seychelles ranked highest.

Further Evidence of Wellness Tourism’s Rise: Wellness tourism can be defined as all travel associated with the pursuit of enhancing/maintaining personal wellbeing. And while recent research from SRI International** shows that spa tourism constitutes a hefty 41 percent of the total $439 global wellness tourism market, the category also spans adventure/nature travel, all breeds of fitness-focused travel, yoga and lifestyle retreats and eco-tourism. The survey found that an overwhelming majority (75 percent) of North American agents see wellness tourism as a distinctly rising travel trend, with 22 percent indicating that it continues just as strong as in the past.

"We’re grateful for the insights into booking trends from travel agents who help us to understand the changing profile of today’s spa traveler, as well as the new destinations and programming they now most seek," said Kyricos.

For more information, contact Beth McGroaty: (213) 300-0107 or beth@rbicom.com

About Spafinder Wellness, Inc. ®
Spafinder Wellness, Inc.®, is the world’s largest media and marketing company for the spa and wellness industry and the leading consumer resource for feeling good and living well all year round. With over 25 years of experience as a spa and wellness authority, millions of people find inspiration to keep well every day via the Spafinder Wellness 365™ brand, also known for its widely distributed gift cards-available at 70,000-plus retailers worldwide-and its global network of 20,000-plus spas, salons, fitness, yoga and Pilates studios and travel destinations. Learn more at spafinder.com, spafinder.co.uk and spafinder.ca.

*For this survey "spa travel" was defined as "all bookings for travel/vacations/packages with a strong spa component."
**Research for the Global Spa & Wellness Summit conducted by SRI International, "The Global Wellness Tourism Economy," 2013. 

To view the original release click here.

Industry News

The Truth of the Matter: Off to Nogales, Mexico
by Don Keelan

Benningtonbanner.com - In the near-term future -- a conversation with my orthopedic surgeon:

Doc: You can get dressed now.

Don: So doc, what's the news? Give it to me straight.

Doc: I have good news, and I have not so good news. Which do you want first?

Don: Let's have the good news.

Doc: It seems like you will need a hip replacement.

Don: That's the good news?

Doc: Yes, but only one hip -- your left one. Your right one is not too bad, at least for the time being.

Don: I hate to have to ask, but what exactly is the bad news?

Doc: Under the new Vermont Universal Health Care System, you will have to wait some time before you can have the hip replaced.

Don: Well, that's not bad. If I have to get a new hip, I wouldn't want it done until next month. I can endure the discomfort a bit longer.

Doc: I'm afraid to say, you might have to wait two years or more.

Don: You're kidding.

Doc: No, I'm serious.

Don: Why's that?

Doc: We've been informed by Vermont's Knee and Hip Joint Replacement Allocation Board, this year's replacement quotas are filled up.

Don: What board?

Doc: A few years ago, when Vermont's Universal Health Care was adopted, the state took control of all aspects of healthcare. Boards were established to review and determine allocation for all elective and more non-elective medical/surgical procedures.

Don: Why, and who serves on these boards?

Doc: The medical/surgical delivery system is broken down into 354 different procedures -- joint replacements, heart stents, cataracts, tonsils, sinus and on and on. The members of the review board -- some professionals, more lay members -- and are appointed by the governor.

Don: I get it, but what's their role?

Doc: The various boards meet once a month, some weekly, and decide how many procedures can be done the following month, up until the year's end. It is based on the funds allocated by Vermont Health Connect, the overriding board.

Don: I'm still lost.

Doc: The board we must deal with had funds last year, to do 510 replacements. There were requests filed to do 3,220. The patients that were not attended to got placed on a waiting list and put into the cycle for this year's review and allocation.

Don: So where do I fit in, and why two years?

Doc: To put it bluntly, you just don't fit -- you are too old, and your age does not make you a priority. You are 74 years old and you are not working in a critical profession or job. Lastly, you are not the main financial supporter of a family with kids under 18.

Don: Why didn't we know this was coming? Why wasn't this allocation -- rationing is a better term for it -- talked about before now?

Doc: Because all the blabbering was about how we would be paying for healthcare, and that only came after all the chatter on getting the enrollment corrected -- remember the mess that was back in 2013/14?

Don: Yeah, I do, but nothing about getting to see a doctor and being put on a waitlist was ever discussed.

Doc: Well, Vermont was the first state. Many doctors saw the allocation -- rationing, if you will -- of medical/surgical procedures coming and just packed up and left the state.

Don: Can I go where they went?

Doc: No, the way things work now, you have to get your treatments done in the state you reside in -- no state-to-state doctor shopping is allowed.

Don: Is there anything I can do to get my hip replaced?

Doc: Yes, but you will have to go to Nogales, Mexico. The clinic there does about 30 to 40 hip replacements a day. It is all cash, no insurance and for about a tenth of the cost here and it will take two weeks to get an appointment.

Don: What will that mean?

Doc: It means you'll pay about $6,000. But keep in mind your rehab will have to be performed back here. And you can't sue if anything goes wrong."

Don: What have you heard?

Doc: They're not bad, do fairly good work, but they do experience a high rate of infection -- around one out of six last count -- but they're improving. It used to be one out of four hips became infected. 

Don: Last summer I was told by my cardiologist that I might be a candidate for a pacemaker and said nothing about this waitlist.

Doc: When you are in Nogales, get it done. In Vermont you will have an even greater wait for that procedure under Vermont Health Connect. I need one, too, and I've been told I'm on the schedule 18 months out. And guess what, I'm younger, with three kids and in a critical profession.

Don: How ignorant of me for not seeing healthcare rationing coming -- and now a lack of doctors and cost being the ultimate driver of the system -- shame on me.

To view the original article click here.

Industry News

"Medical Tourism: Crossing Borders for Healthcare" 

Nursingschoolhub.com has recently published an infographic detailing the reasons why millions of individuals worldwide seek medical care abroad.

Medical Tourism
Source: NursingSchoolHub.com

To view the original piece click here.

Industry News

Farzad Mostashari, M.D., Joins Get Real Health Board of Directors
Former national coordinator for Health IT of the United States brings unparalleled health IT experience and knowledge; sees connected healthcare as a change agent and believes in InstantPHR™

Farzad Mostashari, M.D., has been appointed to the Get Real Health board of directors, effective February 17, 2014. Dr. Mostashari brings unique experience, knowledge and insight into health IT in the US and around the world. He joined the board in part to amplify his message about the central importance of patient engagement and its transformational power in healthcare - and to stand behind the company that provides the leading-edge patient engagement solution: InstantPHR™.

"As a physician and as a healthcare proxy for my parents, I have a first-hand understanding of the power of connected care," says Dr. Mostashari. "Get Real Health understands the human side of health IT every bit as much as the technology side. They put patients and providers first, and they built their solution to meet the demands of a healthcare system that is struggling to transform itself. Get Real Health is a leader in this space -- and as a board member I intend to help this company stay real as it innovates and serves patients and providers."

"We’re deeply honored to have Farzad on our board," said Mark Heaney, Get Real Health CEO and founding partner. "He shares Get Real Health’s vision for patient engagement and believes that connected care is a change agent in the healthcare system."

Dr. Mostashari cites several key reasons for joining the board:

  • Get Real Health’s strong international presence in Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom;
  • Usability of InstantPHR-powered portals for patients who seek to collect their information using Blue Button, organize it and share it with whomever they wish;
  • The company’s understanding of population health and care coordination for providers

"As we look to the future, the ability of patients to get and share their own data and the ability of providers to engage patients will be true game changers," said Farzad. "Get Real Health is well positioned to be a leader in this new ecosystem."

The former National Coordinator for Health IT and current Brookings Institute Visiting Fellow is a well-known and highly respected figure in the healthcare industry globally. He’s also a Twitter star, with more than 15,000 followers, and is frequently named a social media influencer at industry conferences: https://twitter.com/farzad_MD. (People even follow his signature bowtie on Twitter: https://twitter.com/FarzadsBowtie!)

"Farzad’s energy and passion for innovation will help us appropriately steer and expand our product, InstantPHR™, to continue to keep it ahead of our competitors," said Heaney. "Plus, as a highly sought out expert and speaker in health IT around the world, we know he will represent us well!"

As a Forbes writer observed, Dr. Mostashari "left an indelible mark on the healthcare IT landscape" in his role as the U.S. health-IT czar. He’s been called the ultimate patient advocate, and his thought leadership about the power of data to improve patient care has proven to be both prescient and influential. Dr. Mostashari’s understanding of the delicate balance between public policy and industry innovation has made him a highly effective leader both on the public podium and behind the scenes.

About Get Real Health
Rockville, Md.-based Get Real Health is an award-winning global health information technology pioneer specializing in patient engagement and connected care solutions. Get Real Health’s flagship product - InstantPHR™ - is an electronic toolbox for creating and customizing personal health applications. Get Real Health has a diverse global customer base and strategic partnerships with industry leaders including Microsoft, Caradigm, Telstra Health and TELUS Health Solutions. Visit: http://www.getrealhealth.com, or watch a two-minute video at http://vimeo.com/86727501 to learn more.

Industry News

Conference "Report Back"
(as reported by Constantine Constantinides)

In the past, I only wrote "report backs" for conferences I spoke at.

This time I am writing the report back for a conference co-organized by my company (healthCare cybernetics (UK) LTD - http://www.healthcarecybernetics.com) and Zita Congress S. A. (http://www.zita-congress.gr).

It was indicated at the very beginning that the Conference would represent the "doorstep" towards the full implementation of the Development and Promotion "...health in GREECE" Master Plan.

In fact, the design, content and purpose of the Conference reflected the design, content and purpose of the Development and Promotion Master Plan ("...health in GREECE").

Furthermore, the design, content and purpose of the Conference reflected the fact that Greece and its "Providers" are innovating and pioneering - and demonstrating leadership.

Some of the "Greek-origin" innovations in Health Tourism referred to at the Conference, will, no doubt, be adopted and implemented by already developed Health Tourism Destinations.

The credentials, prominence and stature of the international speakers who agreed to come and speak at the Conference, I believe, reflects recognition of our credibility.

Some of the Greek speakers at the Conference (who are "hands on" practitioners in their own right) will be amongst the founding members of the about to be formally founded Geek Health Tourism Council.

As had been made clear to all, this would be a Business Conference (as opposed to an academic event). I believe that the Conference did prove to be "business relevant".

A major challenge and achievement (in terms of credibility) was to get the Conference placed under the auspices of the three relevant Ministries:

  • Ministry of Development
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ministry of Tourism

The Ministers and their advisors scrutinized every aspect of the Conference and the Co-Organizers behind the event - over several months - before eventually giving their "blessing".

The Conference was about "integration" - bringing together the 8 Health Tourism Segments and the Sector-supporting Industries - and I believe we managed to do this.

The Conference Objectives were to:

  • Educate (what Health Tourism is all about)
  • Explain how Health Tourism is Created, Managed / Administered and Promoted
  • Explain the Stakeholder Roles and how one enters the Industry (and as what) to address the Market (and which Market)
  • Explain how to ensure Sustainability and Resilience
  • Provide what needs to be known

I leave it to the attendees to decide if these objectives were achieved.
All I can say is that the Conference brought us to the "doorstep". We can now enter and proceed to implement the Development and Promotion Master Plan - with the participation and contribution of all the stakeholders - including the Taxi Driver.
And I want the International Speakers, who honored us with their presence and contribution, to stay close.

What will follow

The Conference will be followed (at a date to be announced) by the "Development Seminar and Consultation Workshop" (for the Leadership Circle of the Engaged Stakeholders - including representatives from the government at the time).
The Development Seminar and Consultation Workshop will issue the mandate for initiating the implementation of the national-level Development and Promotion Master Plan.

The Attendees

The conference was designed for 150 attendees (including the speakers).
On both days (to our surprise) we practically had a "full house".
And although the Conference was expressly aimed at the Greek Stakeholders, we had two registrations from Cyprus and even one from as far away as Hong Kong.

The people who really made it happen and succeed

"Contrary to popular belief" the people who really made the Conference happen and succeed were the Zita Congress executives and staff (alphabetically - and in order of gender):

  • Irini Katti (Congress Department)
  • Marita Mantala (Art Director)
  • Filippia Tzavida (Head of Congress Department)
  • Gerasimos Kouloumpis (Commercial Director)
  • Nicholas Yiacoumettis (Assistant to Managing Director)

The Program


The Speakers

We had a total of 44 speakers.
See: http://www.healthtourismintegrationconference.gr/Speakers/Speakers.htm

Online Knowledge Resources

Any relevant topics and issues not covered during the Conference (due to time constraints) are addressed by "OnLine Knowledge Resources" (mainly in the form of original articles on the relevant subject).
These are available at the Conference Website.


Speaker Presentations

Speaker Presentations will be uploaded to the Conference Website, as they are received from the speakers (after the event).

Industry News



Upcoming Events

Fourth International Conference on Health, Wellness & Society

March 14-15, 2014 - University of British Columbia at Robson Square, Vancouver, Canada
To learn more or to register click here.

Kuwait Medical Tourism Conference 2014


March 18-20, 2014 - Crowne Plaza Hotel, Al Baraka Ballroom, Kuwait
To learn more or to register click here.

Moscow International Medical and Healthcare Tourism Congress


March 19-22, 2014 - Expocenter, Moscow, Russia
To learn more or to register click here.

International Medical Tourism Promotion Summit & Exhibition 2014

March 26 - 27, 2014 - Crowne Plaza Shanghai Fudan, Shanghai, China
To learn more or to register click here.

2nd Almaty Medical and Health Tourism Mart

April 7-8, 2014 - Moscow, Russia
To learn more or to register click here.

Medical Travel Summit 2014

May 6-8, 2014 - Deauville Beach Resort, Miami Beach, Florida
To learn more or to register click here.

IHC Forum & Expo 2014


May 7-9, 2014 - Cobb Galleria Centre, Atlanta, Georgia
To learn more or to register click here.


10th Asia Pacific Travel Health Conference

May 7-10, 2014 - Caravelle Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
To learn more or to register click here.

Medical Tourism Asia 2014


May 13-15, 2014 - China
To learn more or to register click here.

Istanbul Medical Tourism Fair


June 11-13, 2014 - Istanbul Congress Center, Istanbul, Turkey
To learn more or to register click here.

28th International Travel Expo


June 12-15, 2014 - Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center
To learn more or to register click here.

The Health Tourism Show


July 10-12, 2014 - The Health Tourism Show
To learn more or to register click here.

6th Regional Conference of the International Society of Travel Medicine


August 2-6, 2014 - Jackson Hole, Wyoming
To learn more or to register click here.

8th Annual Global Spa & Wellness Summit


September 10-12, 2014 - Four Seasons Resort Marrakech, Marrakech, Morocco
To learn more or to register click here.

IMF International Medical Forum and Spa & Wellness: Healthcare Travel Expo


October 14-16, 2014 - EC KyivExpoPlaza, Kyiv, Ukraine
To learn more or to register click here.

Mexico Summit on Medical & Wellness Tourism Business


October 22-24, 2014 - Reynosa, Mexico
To learn more or to register click here.

Health Tourism Expo Turkey


October 23-25, 2014 - Istanbul, Turkey
To learn more or to register click here.

IHC Forum West 2014


December 4-5, 2014 - Red Rock Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada
To learn more or to 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

Future of Healthcare Lies in Medical Tourism

Standardmedia.co.ke - For the medium term period of Kenya’s Vision 2030 - from 2008 to 2012 - the Government identified some flagship projects, among them delinking the Ministry of Health from service delivery in order to improve management of the country’s health institutions.

A Large Percentage of Dental Customers From the U.S.

Salem-news.com - Price. Quality. Technology. That was the triple message Dr. Octavio Gonzalez had for attendees of the Medical Matters 2014 conference held earlier this week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The veteran dentist was among dozens of exhibitors at an event catering to expatriates, snowbirds and tourists in the Mexican coastal city.

Corporate Medical Tourism Raises Quality, Lowers Costs

Fiercehealthcare.com - In an effort to get their employees higher quality care at lower costs, some companies are partnering with healthcare providers who will accept fixed fees or bundled payments instead of traditional fees for services rendered, MedCity News reported.

Medical Tourism Continues to Flourish as U.S. Patients Seek Lower Cost Healthcare in Overseas Countries

Darkdaily.com - Despite the lack of publicity, medical tourism continues to enjoy vigorous growth as an increasing number of Americans prove willing to cross international borders to obtain healthcare that is considered of acceptable quality, but at a price that is significantly cheaper than here in the United States.

Muntinlupa Lawmaker Wants Bigger PH Slice: $40 Billion Medical Tourism Pie Eyed

Manilastandardtoday.com - An administration lawmaker has batted for the increase in the country’s share in the $40 billion global "medical tourism" industry.

Medical Tourism Service Explains How Cancer Patients Can Save Money on Treatment

Prweb.com - Medical Blossoms, a trained network of medical tourism professionals, has released a new article detailing how medical tourism can help save cancer patients from financial upset.

Hospital Safety Improves for Heart Patients, Study Finds

Consumer.healthday.com - Efforts to reduce "adverse events" that occur in the hospital appear to be taking hold for patients who've had a heart attack or those being treated for congestive heart failure, according to new research.


Do you know of any available job openings relative to the medical travel industry? We encourage readers to submit any available, relevant job opportunities along with its descriptions and requirements for fellow readers and industry professionals to consider. All submissions are appreciated.


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.