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© 2013 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

Editor
Amanda Haar

Managing Editor
Megan Kennedy

 

Table of Contents

From the Editor

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

News in Review

CNN: Medical tourism: A Global Stampede for Affordable Care

The America's Differences in Healthcare Systems

Medical Tourism, A New Way of Vacationing

Medical Tourism Key to KPJ Healthcare's Long-term Growth

Apollo Health City Adjudged Best Medical Tourism Facility

Hainan Health and Medical Tourism

KPJ to Bank on Medical Tourism with Hospital Transformation, Expansion

Medical Tourism and Hair Transplants

Philippines Joins Medical Tourism Parade

Seoul-Medical Tourism

Thailand: Medical Hub for Nepalis

The Americas Differences in Health Care Systems

Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: Patrick Flochel, Global Life Sciences Center, Ernst & Young

Perspectives

Richard Krasner: Summary of "Legal Barriers to Implementing International Providers into Medical Provider Networks for Worker's Compensation"

Industry News

Quiron Hospital Group and SpineMark Corporation Announce Opening of the San Jaime Spine Center of Excellence

Singapore Private Hospital Runners Face Uncertain Outlook Despite Medical Tourism Boom

Dr. Maria K. Todd Presents on Why Medical Tourism Facilitators Fail

The Asia Medical Travel Council and the Thai Medical Tourism Association Announce Strategic Alliance by the Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding

AACSH opens its doors to Dubai Medical Tourism Initiative

Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Launch of Colombia's Second Free Trade Zone for Health

Physicians Fighting Back Against the Bureaucratization of Healthcare

Upcoming Events

Shanghai Medical and Healthcare Tourism Show

MEDEXPO Saudi Arabia 2013

Asia Medical Tourism and Healthcare Conference 2013

4th Medical Travel International Business Summit

2013 CMTR European Medical Tourism Research Symposium

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

Global Connected Care Conference & 4th Meditour Expo

Indian Medical Tourism Conference 2013

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Global Health Voyager

THIS WEEK IN MEDICAL TRAVEL TODAY

Volume 7, Issue 7

By Amanda Haar, Editor

Greetings,

I once had a boss describe his attitude towards a project we were working on as "wildly, cautiously optimistic." That's kind of how I feel the content of this issue reads.

On the one hand you have organizations forming new alliances aimed at raising professional standards and boosting consumer confidence (and business), and thought leaders discussing how telehealth can promote better patient care and experiences (and business). But on the other hand, there are tales of concern and woe related to the viability of expanded hospital networks and the leading causes of facilitator failure.

The mix is an interesting reminder that the pitfalls of the industry are as plentiful as the opportunities.

Yours with tempered enthusiasm,

Amanda Haar, Editor
ahaar@cpronline.com 

Global Health Voyager

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Spotlight

Patrick Flochel
Ernst & Young

Patrick Flochel, Global Life Sciences Center, Ernst & Young

Medical Travel Today (MTT): How do you anticipate telehealth changing the way healthcare is delivered globally in the next five years?

Patrick Flochel (PF): Healthcare has traditionally been produced, delivered, consumed and paid for at the hospital and at the doctor's office. But the epicenter is shifting to a new "third place:" patients, who are increasingly discerning and demanding when it comes to how they want care to be delivered. This is a dynamic scenario in which telehealth is already starting to play a game-changing role, by helping to meet patient demands, keeping costs down and providing new opportunities for growth and value creation.

There are several factors helping to pave the way for increased use of telehealth. Firstly, the focus of healthcare is clearly shifting from treatment to outcomes. Patient-centric medical homes and accountable care organizations are becoming more important. These institutions will need to measure and track outcomes, which means they need to regularly follow up with patients. They will be looking to telehealth to help them do that.

Secondly, US Medicaid recognizes telehealth as an important tool for cost-effective healthcare delivery, and reimburses audio and video consultations at par with physical face-to-face consultations. A growing number of states require private health insurers to reimburse telehealth services.. As reimbursement for telehealth services increases, the uptake of these services is likely to become more pronounced.

Thirdly, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) also provides an impetus to telehealth by mandating Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (the Innovation Center) to make use of telehealth to develop integrated health systems. The Innovation Center sees telehealth as a key tool for reducing hospital readmissions.

And finally, the increasing demand for healthcare in developing countries could be a key driver for telehealth services. For example, Cisco has set up a Globalization Centre East (GCE) in India, as part of its "smart connected healthcare initiative" in collaboration with Apollo Hospitals. The move is aimed at bringing down healthcare costs to US$1 per month and increasing accessibility through telemedicine.

Telehealth is typically seen as a panacea for rural areas where healthcare facilities are sparse. But it also has a great future in urban areas where complex healthcare systems, waiting time, travel time and so on make it cumbersome for patients to visit a doctor. In the next five years we could see telehealth modules integrated into physician practice management systems as a vital tool to increase intimacy and follow-up with patients. This would help influence the behavior of patients and could help them comply better with their treatments and lifestyle changes.

Telehealth could also help to empower patients and help them to take more control over their own health, which could have a big positive impact on the burden of chronic diseases. Cross-border telehealth could also prove to be an important phenomenon. We all know that healthcare services are not distributed equally around the world, but telehealth could provide medical services to people wherever they are and whenever they need it.

MTT: Do you see telehealth impacting how and where patients choose to get care in the future? And in what ways?

PF: Yes, telehealth and mHealth are set to shift the delivery mechanism of healthcare from hospitals and physicians' offices to pretty much everywhere. Some of these "third places" are:

  • Patients' homes - This is likely to emerge as one of the most important segments commercially. In developed countries, the rising prevalence of chronic diseases, increasing healthcare costs and the aging population will be the major drivers. In emerging economies, reaching out to a greater proportion of the population is set to drive the uptake. With advancement in sensor technologies and healthcare mobile applications, delivering healthcare at home is set to become more sophisticated, convenient and cost effective.
  • Employers' premises - More and more employers are offering telehealth to their staff, allowing them to use consultation services without having to leave the office. This is potentially a great tool to reduce absenteeism and increase workforce productivity.
  • In the car - Although not a current trend, telehealth is set to make its presence felt while on the move. For example, Ford has announced a partnership with Medtronic (a medical device company), SDI Health (which owns allergy information provider website www.pollen.com) and WellDoc (a provider of mHealth integrated services) to provide built-in services like glucose monitoring, information on allergens and innovative solutions for people with diabetes and asthma.
  • In schools - This is not yet current practice either, but telehealth at schools has the potential to emerge as an important segment. In California, several successful pilots have been conducted over the last decade in asthma care, oral and dental care, mental health, acute care, behavioral health, and general well-being.
  • On-the-go - Mobile health services delivered through technology such as smartphones will help us to take charge of our healthcare. We will be better connected with physicians and healthcare providers. Mobile phones will also give people more control over programming and running implanted devices. The automatic, always-on, always-with-you nature of mobile technology has the potential to get around some of our typical human habits - laziness about testing and inaccurate recording of data - and make monitoring a continuous process. Data would become more accurate and prevention more achievable.

MTT: What role do you see telehealth playing in the field of medical travel? Facilitating? Eliminating the need for travel? Enabling physicians to provide better follow-up care?

PF: Telehealth will potentially play a big role in helping to improve the experience, efficiency and effectiveness of medical travel. With telehealth it is possible to imagine a continuum of care, from the time the patient decides to opt for medical travel until full recovery and beyond.

But the main applications will be in pre-operative and post-operative care. In pre-operative care, telehealth can be used to collect data about the patient and to conduct medical examinations and counseling sessions to prepare the patient for treatment. In post-operative care, telehealth can play a critical role in ensuring follow-up patient monitoring, examinations, ensuring medication compliance, rehabilitations, and counseling for patient and family members. Good post-operative care is critical to ensure faster recovery of the patient and prevent re-hospitalization. Telehealth will be a key to ensure that the benefits of medical tourism are fully realized.

MTT: What are the opportunities those in medical travel should be pursuing now to capitalize on the potential of telehealth and the industry?

PF: Medical travel companies should be making use of telehealth facilities to allow potential customers to have a "first feel" of the provider facilities and enhance the overall experience and effectiveness of medical travel.

There are three important US developments that will create opportunities for the medical travel industry and, for the reasons I've previously outlined, it's possible to see a role for telehealth in all of them.

Firstly, with the increase in insurance coverage as part of the PPACA, a large number of currently uninsured Americans will enter the healthcare system. This could well result in increasing waiting time for specialty care.The medical tourism industry ought to demonstrate that it can offer a solution.

Secondly, employer-sponsored medical travel may also emerge as a key driver for the industry. Organizations that can grab the early-mover advantage in this segment are likely to gain a competitive advantage. Thirdly, the same law will push employers' healthcare costs up, and they will start looking for innovative options to keep them down.

A few employers, such as Blue Ridge Paper in North Carolina, have now already started using overseas medical facilities for their employees. Others, such as Wal-Mart, Boeing and PepsiCo, are encouraging domestic medical travel.

And finally, enrollment for health savings accounts (HSAs) has been on the rise. Patients with HSAs are value-conscious and internet savvy, and willing to travel at their own expense for the most cost-effective treatments.

MTT: Any other thoughts or observations related to medical travel and telehealth you'd like to share?

PF: Today, it is possible to imagine that healthcare will in future no longer be restricted by regional boundaries. It will become more global, more virtual and more accessible. In this "healthcare everywhere" world, medical travel and telehealth have big roles to play. But there is a lot of work to do in the meantime. The advantages of telehealth appear obvious to some of us, but telehealth continues to meet resistance within healthcare systems. Convincing payers of its worth will not always be easy. Perhaps the successful adoption of telehealth by the medical tourism industry will act as a catalyst for its more widespread uptake elsewhere.

About Patrick Flochel
Patrick Flochel is Ernst & Young's (E&Y) Global Life Sciences market leader, responsible for serving global life sciences companies with assurance, advisory, tax and transaction solutions. In that capacity, Patrick is responsible for E&Y's strategy, thought leadership, resourcing, learning and solution development to best serve clients in the Life Sciences industry. Patrick also serves as the Global Client Service partner or as senior advisory partner on a number of European Pharmaceutical clients. He has served on various management and leadership positions at E&Y at global and EMEIA levels.

Prior to his current position, Patrick was the EMEIA Life Sciences leader - a role that he integrates with his global one. He has had a long career in auditing and consulting, starting in 1979 in Paris and moving to Brussels in 1989 to lead E&Y EU Policy and Regulation team providing strategic advisory services to Fortune 500 companies in the industrial and financial sectors. He joined E&Y's Change Management practice in Paris in 1995 while setting up the French practice's marketing and communications department and later moved to London as Global vice-chair for business development.

Patrick is a frequent speaker at Life Sciences- and healthcare-related conferences, and has contributed numerous articles on the industry in the trade and general press.

He earned a master's degree from ESCP in Paris.


Progressions: The third place: health care everywhere, Ernst & Young, 2012

"Healthcare reform unlikely to slow medical travel growth, experts say", Travel market report, July 2012, http://www.travelmarketreport.com/medical?articleID=7456&LP=1

Perspectives

Richard Krasner: Summary of "Legal Barriers to Implementing International Providers into Medical Provider Networks for Worker's Compensation"

Throughout the debate leading to the enactment of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA), one area of health care has been relegated to the sidelines; the rising cost of workers' compensation claims. One major factor for the increase of workers' compensation claims costs is the rise of medical costs associated with those claims. The average medical cost per loss time claim in workers' compensation in 2008 was $26,000, and medical losses in that year represented 58% of all total losses. Since 2008, the average medical cost has risen steadily, increasing at a moderate rate.

In the past twenty years, from 1991 to 2010, the average medical cost per lost-time claim has gone from $8,100 to $26,900. In 2001 it increased to $15,900, and by 2005 it had gone up to $21,300. Given this trajectory, medical costs for workers' compensation will continue to rise, perhaps even reaching $50,000, if medical costs cannot be controlled. With all the workers' compensation system calls for reform, one possible solution has yet to catch on; implementing international medical providers into workers' compensation.

Implementing international medical providers into the U.S. workers' compensation system sounds far-fetched; however, globalization is rapidly changing many industries around the world, and health care and workers' compensation should not be an exception to that change.

Just as many legal barriers exist to doing business overseas, the implementation of international medical providers into U.S. workers' compensation medical provider networks also presents many barriers. This Summary will attempt to examine a few legal and regulatory barriers currently preventing foreign medical providers from treating patients abroad for injuries resulting from work-related accidents.

Considerations of cost are one reason why patients go abroad for medical treatment. Patients also seek medical care abroad for the quality of care received at foreign hospitals. Fears of poor quality result from stereotypes regarding doctors and facilities in developing countries. The quality of care available at many of the common medical tourism destinations are comparable to that available to the average U.S. patient; also death rates and adverse outcomes for cardiac patients in Indian and Thai medical tourist hospitals are comparable to, and in some instances, lower than those at American hospitals.

Typically, the effectiveness and safety of health care services delivered to patient populations in the U.S. is how "quality of care" is measured. However, quality is generally difficult to measure or define. Also, comparing safety on a state or local level is practically impossible. Federal policy makes reporting adverse events at medical facilities voluntary, and few states require reports to be made public. Reports, where made, are usually incomplete as well.

Though all patients can benefit, medical tourism's cost savings are more likely to benefit those with inadequate health insurance coverage. Lower-middle-class individuals, who typically have sufficient means to pay for reduced-price care out-of pocket, will benefit most from medical tourism. This is a point to bear in mind with regard to workers' compensation, as many claimants are generally lower-middle-class.

Medical tourism disproportionately benefits uninsured or underinsured individuals, but they are not the only ones benefitting from cost savings from medical tourism. Self-insured employers and private insurance companies have begun integrating medical tourism into their policies. It is attractive to small businesses as well. Medical tourism is expanding as self-insured employers and insurance companies have integrated medical tourism into their policies.

One of the most obvious legal barriers to implementing medical tourism into workers' compensation are the provisions of State workers' compensation laws that establish who can provide medical care to injured workers. In four of the largest workers' compensation states, California, Florida, New York and Texas, medical providers must be licensed by the state to practice medicine. Florida's statutes have a provision to allow certain foreign-trained physicians to practice in the state, but do not mention treatment outside of the state.

On the other hand, two states, Oregon and Washington State, both have statutes or rules that allow workers to choose an attending doctor or physician in another country. Oregon's labor code states, "…The worker also may choose an attending doctor or physician in another country or in any other state or territory or possession of the United States with the prior approval of the insurer or self-insured employer."

The WA State Department of Labor and Industries has a page on their website that allows workers to find an attending practitioner in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Other Countries. The webpage allows the worker to search for a U.S. physician by entering a zip code, miles, doctor or provider type, and specialty. Workers seeking physicians in Canada, Mexico and Other Countries, such as England, Germany, Honduras, New Zealand, the Philippines, Spain, Thailand and Ukraine are directed to .pdf files that list selected doctors and their specialties and contact information.

Among some of the other barriers to medical tourism is the result of entrenched interest groups wishing to avoid competition with low-cost providers. Also, outdated federal and state laws intended to protect consumers, but only increase costs and reduce convenience. Additionally, state and federal regulations restrict public providers from outsourcing certain expensive medical procedures. Federal laws inhibit collaboration and state licensing laws prevent certain medical tasks being performed by providers in other countries. Foreign physicians lack the authority to order tests, initiate therapies and to prescribe drugs that U.S. pharmacies are able to dispense.

Restrictions on the practice of medicine have been removed, and many still exist. Some laws, for example, make it illegal for a physician to consult with a patient online without an initial face-to-face meeting; it is illegal for a physician who is outside the state and who has examined the patient in person to continue treating via the Internet after the patient goes home; and it is illegal (in most states) for a physician outside that state to consult by phone with the patient residing in that state if the physician is not licensed to practice there.

Other barriers or potential barriers, which are extremely important ones, also exist that must be addressed before medical tourism is accepted for workers' compensation. Issues regarding medical malpractice and liability laws overseas, patient privacy and medical record laws (including HIPAA), ERISA(not a factor in Work Comp) and the impact of PPACA have to be dealt with before medical tourism is a viable option not only for non-compensation patients, but for compensation patients as well.

An exhaustive case law search resulted in identifying three cases that support or refute the implementing of medical tourism into the workers' compensation arena. However, these three cases do offer some insight into how courts might rule regarding the implementation of medical tourism in workers' compensation.

In the first case, a Mexican resident, working in California as a laborer, fell from a ladder. The court ruled in his favor, and said employers are responsible for reasonable expense of treatment and medical-legal costs.
The next case, also in California, was a case of domestic medical tourism. An employee of a convalescence hospital slipped and sustained injuries to his back and right elbow. The court that the costs of attending an obesity clinic were reimbursable and that he was entitled to the cost of future medical treatment.

The last case was in Florida, and involved an undocumented Mexican worker. He had twelve surgeries to repair the fracture to his leg. He needed additional surgery, but never got the surgery in the US, as he returned to Mexico and did not have legal documents to return to the US. The court ruled that state law did not preclude the foreign physician's treatment of the claimant in Mexico. They stated that Florida workers' compensation law contemplates coverage for non-citizens. They cited cases that held that undocumented workers were entitled to workers' compensation coverage in Florida. They also stated that Florida law indicates that an injured worker is not prohibited from moving from his pre-injury residence in the state, and receiving treatment outside of the state.

Research into the legal barriers to implementing medical tourism into workers' compensation found nothing of any real substance that would prevent workers' compensation cases from benefiting from medical tourism. We have seen that there still remain several legal barriers to the implementation of medical tourism into workers' compensation. Various federal and state laws need to be changed, and the issues of medical malpractice and liability laws, patient privacy and medical record laws and HIPAA, as well as ERISA and the impact of PPACA must all be addressed. But it is my opinion that these barriers can and will be overcome, especially in light of case law that has broken down some of those barriers already for foreign workers. The cost savings that can be achieved and the quality of care that matches, and even surpasses that found in the U.S., is sufficient reason why medical tourism should be implemented.

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

Quiron Hospital Group and SpineMark Corporation Announce Opening of the San Jaime Spine Center of Excellence

 

Description: pineMark Corporation Logo.  (PRNewsFoto/SpineMark Corporation)

Quiron Hospital Group, the largest private hospital network in Spain, and SpineMark Corporation, a developer of spine centers of excellence (COE) and spine research organizations, have announced the grand opening of the Quiron San Jaime Spine Center at Quiron's San Jaime Hospital in Torrevieja,Spain. This center is SpineMark's first international site, and is the first spine COE in Spain, the EU and UK.

The new center, developed around SpineMark's patient-centric focused COE model, incorporates a comprehensive delivery system of services, including surgical, non-surgical, allied health and diagnostic components for spine care with a focus on minimally invasive and complex surgery for spinal deformities.

To deliver the most effective treatment for patients with spinal conditions, the Quiron San Jaime Spine Center has recruited 15 physician specialists to provide comprehensive, coordinated and conservative care from diagnosis to discharge. Quality will be measured by SpineMark's Spine Protocol Management System.  Quiron and SpineMark leaders anticipate the spine center will become the leading provider of spine services in Spain and a destination site for medical tourists, and private patients and the citizens of Spain. 

"More than 90 percent of Spanish people experience back pain at least once during their life," says Dr. Rafael Gimenez Perez , Director Territorial Area de Levante, Grupo Hospitalario Quiron. "We developed the Quiron San Jaime Spine Center in partnership with SpineMark and its physician advisors to meet the specialized needs of these patients and provide the most advanced care."

The approach to treatment provided by the spine center specialists will be advanced through participation in spine research studies, clinical trials and medical education programs under an affiliated SpineMark Spine Research Organization.

"This project is a significant milestone for the community, region and country as well as SpineMark," says Marcy Rogers, president and CEO of SpineMark. "It provides the people of Spain access to a clinically proven model that had not existed in their country until now and provides a setting for patients throughout Europe and the world to receive the most innovative treatments."
Behrooz Akbarnia, M.D., a leading spinal deformity surgeon from California will travel to Torrevieja for opening of the spine center to work with the physicians and surgeons at the hospital for training, mentoring and research.

"The Quiron San Jaime Spine Center provides an optimal setting for medical professionals to gather and explore more effective treatment methods," says Dr. Akbarnia. "I look forward to collaborating with Spain's medical leaders to make new inroads in the fight against spine disease."

 

Industry News

Singapore Private Hospital Runners Face Uncertain Outlook Despite Medical Tourism Boom

shanghaidaily.com - While Singapore has been one of the popular destinations for the rich who seek medical treatment, experts have mixed views about the outlook of private hospital operators that play a pivotal role in medical tourism in the city-state. Nobody doubts that the medical service sector of Singapore should remain strong over the medium term. Healthcare expenditure in absolute terms and as a percentage of the gross domestic product continues to be driven by multiple factors, such as economic growth, increased access to healthcare services, an aging population and associated healthcare needs, and government expenditure on general healthcare.

OCBC Investment Research supported this optimistic view, saying that the growth trajectory of the healthcare sector remains positive in general, aided by the rising affluence in the region which has bolstered the purchasing power of the middle-class. But the rosy picture portrayed for the sector might have overlooked some of the micro risks.

To continue reading click here.

Industry News

Dr. Maria K. Todd Presents on Why Medical Tourism Facilitators Fail

Editor's Note: Maria Todd, the author of The Medical Tourism Facilitator's Handbook (2011 CRC | Productivity Press) and 10 other healthcare business administration professional books was recently asked to present a short session at an international medical tourism conference on the topic of ‘Why So Many Medical Tourism Facilitators Fail.' Dr. Todd examined the phenomenon and compiled her impressions about facilitators with whom she has crossed paths - and that have come and gone since the term and role began its rise in popularity from about 2005 to the present. She concluded her short presentation with suggestions for new and established medical tourism facilitators on how to better prepare so that they can succeed in the business.

Slides from the presentation can be viewed here.

Industry News

The Asia Medical Travel Council and the Thai Medical Tourism Association Announce Strategic Alliance by the Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding

The Asia Medical Travel Council (AMTRAC) today welcomes the Thai Medical Tourism Association (TMTA) into its ranks as a pioneer founding member. TMTA will make up one of five of the AMTRAC regional bloc members, the first bloc of its kind in the world, which would in time consist of four other prominent Asian countries that have demonstrated great strides towards the advancement of the medical travel industry backed by internationally accredited medical institutions and highly qualified medical specialists.

AMTRAC's vision is to ultimately show the world that its member countries are able to offer safe and affordable medical treatment comparable to the best in the West and collectively raise the visibility of Asian medical travel destinations in an increasingly crowded medical travel market.

Ultimately, this collaborative network can only spell good news for the patient as the medical travel bloc will collectively look to allay patient concerns by discussing and addressing important and pertinent issues such as patient safety, continuity of care, standardization of medical records, to name a few.

Founder of AMTRAC, Wilson Tan, said, "This truly marks an exciting time for Asia in the medical travel space. TMTA will be a valuable member of AMTRAC as the other AMTRAC members can learn how it has succeeded in achieving the right balance of medical skills and expertise blended with its legendary Thai hospitality to succeed in promoting Thailand as a premiere medical travel destination to the rest of the world. Our two organizations have a great deal in common in our values, work ethics and vision to see Asia grow as a medical travel hub. We are proud to be able to count TMTA amongst the pioneer founding members of AMTRAC."

 The objectives of this Pan-Asian alliance are:

  • To aid AMTRAC members to become recognized as top medical travel destinations.
  • To help raise professional standards of medical specialists and healthcare providers.
  • To provide a single platform for medical facilitators to learn, update and network with other member service providers.
  • To develop a higher degree of patient confidence and awareness in medical practitioners and facilities in the Asian region.
  • To facilitate a forum for the exchange of views on topical issues facing the medical travel industry in Asia.
  • To achieve global recognition as the number one medical travel event in Asia by organizing annual AMTRAC Conference & Exhibitions (one-stop shop for medical travel in Asia).
  • Lastly, but not the least, to develop active corporate social responsibility and charity programs that give back to the community.

Presiding over this momentous signing of the MoU ceremony are Dr. Med Prapa Wongphaet, president of the TMTA, and Wilson Tan, founder of AMTRAC. This alliance merely marks the start of what many hope would be the driving force behind the betterment of the medical travel industry in Asia.

Internationally recognized as the frontrunners in the medical travel arena within the region, AMTRAC is working to include India, Malaysia, South Korea and Singapore as the remaining four founding members. Shortly after, this will be followed by an official launch ceremony in the second half of 2013.

About AMTRAC
AMTRAC will be the first-ever formalized collaboration of medical travel associations of Asian countries that promote medical travel and tourism. It will ultimately be comprised of India, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand, which will make up the pioneer founding member contingent. http://www.amtrac.asia

 About TMTA
The Thai Medical Tourism Association, formerly known as the Thailand Medical Tourism Cluster, was established to spearhead the promotion of medical tourism for Thailand. 

Industry News

AACSH opens its doors to Dubai Medical Tourism Initiative

The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital is set to open its doors to international patients seeking quality elective healthcare services in Dubai under the Dubai Medical Tourism Initiative, aiming to establish Dubai and the UAE as a world center for medical tourism.

As part of the initiative, the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital management will be represented at the Fourth Medical and Health Tourism Congress (MHTC) in Moscow, Russia, to take place March 20 to March 23, 2013.

Along with other private healthcare providers, and united under the Dubai Medical Tourism Initiative, the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital will aim to present its portfolio of services and team of experts to partners operating from Russia and the CSI countries.

"We are pleased to partner with the Dubai Healthcare City and Dubai Health Authority in turning Dubai into a world-class hub for medical tourism. We believe that Dubai, and the United Arab Emirates, has all that is needed and more in order to become a leading medical tourism destination," said Dr. Jeehan Abdul Qadir, executive chairperson of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital, ahead of the Fourth MHTC event.

"I trust that the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital with its five operating theaters and 25-bed facility entirely dedicated to Cosmetic and Aesthetic Medicine is ready to welcome international patients from The Russian Federation and the CSI countries. In fact we have seen a remarkable increase of patients visiting us from this part of the world, seeking reliable and safe cosmetic treatments, done by experts," added Michael Stroud, CEO of the hospital.

The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital is located in Dubai Healthcare City, and is the first hospital to open in the Dubai Healthcare Free Zone in 2008 and the first hospital in the Healthcare City to receive the Joint Commission International accreditation in 2009.

To accommodate international patients the hospital offers customized service to all patients travelling from abroad. In order to facilitate international patient visits and stay, the hospital offers assistance around the clock in physician appointments, inpatient and surgical services coordination, estimates of charges for physician/hospital services, communication with local embassies/consulates/missions, hotel reservations/special lodging for family members and guests, visa/travel arrangements/meet and greet services at the airport, and translation assistance in all languages.

The Dubai Medical Tourism initiative was announced in 2012 by HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council.

Since then, several measures have been taken to unify medical tourism procedures in collaboration with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), General Directorate for Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) and the Department of Tourism and Commercial Marketing (DTCM), among others.

Industry News

Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Launch of Colombia's Second Free Trade Zone for Health

Pasto, Colombia - The Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Tourism inaugurated the Free Trade Zone, "Hispano-American Clinic," on Friday, in the capital of Nariño. This was a response to the commitments made to the regions, and it is in line with the health plan for tourism businesses, which was designed by the Productive Transformation Program (PTP) of the above mentioned ministry.

The Hispano-American Clinic represents an investment of $21.6 billion pesos and the creation of over 400 jobs.
The head of this portfolio, Minister Sergio Diaz-Granados, said that the clinic represents an investment of $21.6 billion, with projections for the creation of 160 direct jobs and 270 indirect ones. The clinic will provide "care to patients, both domestic and foreign, through specialized technical services in a world class facility."This is part of an ongoing initiative of the Santos Administration, through the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Tourism, to strengthen various zones and encourage activities related to world-class sectors. In this case, it has directly influenced the sector of Health Tourism. The clinic is among 12 such projects that are being proposed for the development of the health sector in Colombia. The first project was the St. Vincent Foundation in Rio Negro, Antioquia, in 2011. This was the first Special Health Services Zone in Colombia. This institution has become an example of how to diversify supply, encourage job creation, and promote the use of new technology, in a sustainable manner." The will of the government is clear about its goal of promoting economic development and specialized skills in the regions. These zones, specifically in the case of health, are proof of this. And, they will continue to promote job creation across the country," said the Minister. The PTP, through its Health Tourism Management, has provided support throughout the process, so that these spaces can enjoy tax benefits and other privileges. Moreover, since 2012, a strategy has been advanced to link health service providers, such as the Hispano-American Clinic, as well as other tourism operators, in order to promote various possibilities for new domestic and international customers that visit Pasto. The services to be offered to the region include catheterization procedures, cardiovascular surgery, bariatric surgery, orthopedics, pediatric surgery, plastic surgery, dentistry, and neurosurgery, among others. According to Juan Carlos Garavito, PTP Manager, the strategy for the health zones is to strengthen the export supply of the health tourism sector, while benefiting the regions with job creation and world-class services.

The PTP will continue to promote health and wellness tourism in Colombia, so that by 2015, it will be the top destination on the continent for this activity.

Industry News

Physicians Fighting Back Against the Bureaucratization of Healthcare

Editor's Note: reason.com recently ran an interesting piece looking at the growing trend of direct primary care in the US. A result of physician-entrepreneurs fighting to bring transparent prices and market forces back to healthcare, the model of direct primary care is catching on fast as more and more physicians seek to establish new means of practicing medicine before the healthcare reform law takes full effect in 2014.

To read the story and view related clips, click here.

Upcoming Events

Shanghai Medical and Healthcare Tourism Show


April 2-4, 2013 - Everbright Exhibition Center, Shanghai

The 2013 Shanghai Medical & Healthcare Tourism Show (SMTS) aims to provide a platform for communication and cooperation among suppliers, destinations, hospitals, insurance companies, hotels and other professionals of global medical and healthcare tourism products. SMTS opens a window for the large number of potential customers and professionals in China to know more about global medical and healthcare tourism products. Based on full preparations, SMTS has won strong support from China's health authorities and tourism officials.

To learn more or to register click here.


MEDEXPO Saudi Arabia 2013

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April 6-8, 2013 - Jeddah Center for Forums and Events

MEDEXPO Saudi Arabia is an international healthcare exhibition and forum focusing on a wide array of health sectors, including medical, dentistry, ophthalmology, laboratories, pharmaceutical and bio-technology, and medical tourism.

The MEDEXPO Forum will address how healthcare leaders can:

  • Increase hospital bed capacity to meet new and future medical demands
  • Minimize risk by providing safe, quality healthcare
  • Streamline work processes to ensure effective management of staff and resources
  • Leverage technology to improve operational efficiency and management of patient flow
  • Ensure patient satisfaction by creating a patient-centered healthcare system

To learn more or to register click here.


Asia Medical Tourism and Healthcare Conference 2013

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April 9-10, 2013 - JW Marriott Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

This comprehensive conference will address key points connected with medical tourism including future trends, insights and different perspectives to boost productivity and profitability for international healthcare providers and patients.

Asia Medical Tourism and Healthcare 2013 is geared towards leading healthcare professionals including but not limited to chief executive officers, directors, vice presidents, division heads, general managers, counsels, advisors, specialists and senior managers of non-industrial organizations, medical travel services, finance companies and after-care facilities.

Seats are limited in order to ensure each delegate receives sufficient time for networking with event speakers, exhibitors and other participants.

To learn more or to register click here.


4th Medical Travel International Business Summit

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April 24-26, 2013 - Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort, Herradura Beach, Central Pacific, Costa Rica

This year's summit will focus on connecting US healthcare companies such as insurance companies, self-insured companies, third party administrators and managed care organizations who are focused on being able to decrease their healthcare costs in the face of Obamacare, while maintaining a high level of care for their members and employees. Directors from the Costa Rican Health System, government representatives, investment agencies, trade commissioners, medical associations and tourism operators will gather to share best practices and further promote and expand health tourism in the region. Attendees will be provided with information about existing programs and show diverse opportunities for new activities related to medical tourism and retirement living.

There will also be guided tours of Costa Rica's top hospitals, breakout sessions to discuss topics of interest, such as new procedures to solve vexing health problems, medical travel and the US perspective, opportunities and challenges facing medical tourism for companies, presenting a medical travel option to employees, and many other hot medical tourism topics.

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.


Indian Medical Tourism Conference 2013

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October TBD, 2013 - Bangalore/Ahmedabad, India

The Indian Medical Tourism Conference (IMTCA) will showcase the need, progress and opportunities in medical tourism, and engage in conversations about Best Practices and Ethics in Healthcare. It will also showcase how innovation in healthcare is playing a key role in the development of mid- to smaller-sized organizations that face fierce competition from their corporate counterparts.

Speakers will include:

  • Dr. David G. Vequist, CMTR - New research development in medical tourism
  • Dr. Pushpa M. Bhargava, scientist, founder of CCMB - Ethics in healthcare
  • Rajeshwar Rao, AP Chamber of Commerce - Incentives from the government
  • Dr. Michael Guiry, UIW -- Marketing medical tourism - best practices
  • Dr. Shruti Ram - Growing need for cost-effective, quality life for the aging
  • Dr. Siddharth Bhalerao, orthodontics and facial cosmetology
  • Dr. Glenn Cohen, Harvard - Legal aspects in medical tourism
  • Josef Woodman, Patient Beyond Borders
  • Armando Polanco - Corporate insurance in healthcare
  • Dr. Marcia Inhorn, Yale - Fertility tourism
  • Dr. K. S. Nayak, Nephrology -- Reverse medical tourism Dr. Udai Prakash - Innovation in orthopedics
  • Dr. Ravi Birla, University of Houston -- Biotechnology in healthcare
  • Varsha Lafargue, One HealthCare Worldwide and i-Transition The growing need of cost containment and quality enhancement in medical tourism.

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

CNN: Medical tourism: A Global Stampede for Affordable Care
Cnn.com - As health costs skyrocket, Western travelers are getting comfortable with "foreign doctors" and much cheaper procedures.

The America's Differences in Healthcare Systems Mtmweb.biz - With the US healthcare system in flux, many Americans are looking beyond their borders for alternative solutions. Safety and affordability are two of the biggest concerns for patients considering a global option. That is why hundreds of healthcare systems in Central America and South America have stepped up their services to offer world-class medical attention.

Medical Tourism, A New Way of Vacationing
CounselHeal.com - Going sightseeing and hitting the local tourist attractions may not be the only things on a tourist's list in today's world. Research shows that more and more European tourists are seeking medical care during their vacation stays at other countries. This new trend, coined "medical tourism," started when the number of people seeking out cheaper medical treatments outside of their own countries increased.

Medical Tourism Key to KPJ Healthcare's Long-term Growth
Mmail.com.my - In the face of rising competition in the healthcare business, the lucrative medical tourism industry could be key to the sustainable long-term growth of KPJ Healthcare Bhd, says RHB Research. The research unit of RHB Capital said KPJ Healthcare had set an internal target of growing its medical tourism business to a targeted revenue contribution of 25 percent by 2020.

Apollo Health City Adjudged Best Medical Tourism Facility Newkerala.com - Apollo Health City, Hyderabad, has been adjudged as the best medical tourism facility in India by the government of India. The award was presented by President Pranab Mukerjee in New Delhi on Monday. This is the second time Apollo Health City has been honored with this award.

Hainan Health and Medical Tourism
CRIEnglish.com - A senior official said China's southernmost island of Hainan Province will set up a "special zone," where overseas medical institutions will enjoy preferential business policies in order to boost medical tourism. Hainan governor Jiang Dingzhi said the Bo'ao Lecheng International Medical Travel Zone would be located along the east coast of the island and near the town of Bo'ao, where the Bo'ao Forum for Asia has been held annually since 2001. The zone, already approved by the State Council, will enjoy preferential policies that are seen nowhere else.

KPJ to Bank on Medical Tourism with Hospital Transformation, Expansion
TheBorneoPost.com - KPJ Healthcare Bhd (KPJ), on its plans to transform three of its existing hospitals into reference centers for oncology while leveraging on its stake in a Thai hospital, is focusing on the lucrative medical tourism industry as a pathway to sustainable long-term growth.

Medical Tourism and Hair Transplants Hivehealthmedia.com - As the cost of medical treatment continues to skyrocket, individuals are looking to other locations for quality care at an affordable cost. Many foreign counties are recognized for performing plastic surgery, and now hair transplant surgery has become an increasingly popular procedure. Canada, especially, has perfected hair transplanting, offering patients better quality treatment for their money.

Philippines Joins Medical Tourism Parade AsiaSentinel.com - The Philippines, having become a major player in the business process outsourcing, is preparing to take on other countries across Asia in a new field -- medical tourism, a plan that makes sense since the country is a major supplier of medical personnel to the West.

Seoul-Medical Tourism GlobalPost.com - The Seoul Metropolitan government plans to unveil region-specified medical tourism programs reserved for foreigners as part of efforts to meet growing demand for such programs and further spur the industry, officials said Wednesday.

Thailand: Medical Hub for NepalisTheHimalayanTimes.com - The number of Nepali medical tourists visiting Thailand has increased in recent days. The first-class hospitals, high-class medical technology, top-class physicians and significantly lower treatment costs have attracted many Nepali medical tourists.

The Americas Differences in Health Care Systems
With the U.S. health care system in flux, many Americans are looking beyond their borders for alternative solutions. Safety and affordability are two of the biggest concerns for patients considering a global option. That is why hundreds of health care systems in Central America and South America have stepped up their services to offer world-class medical attention.

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.