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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.

Laura Carabello

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

$200 Million Medical Travel Facility Proposed for Bahamas

Growth of the Medical Tourism Industry

Medical Tourists Increasing Rapidly

Rwanda to Boost Medical Tourism

Poland Targets Seven Countries for Medical Tourism

Showcasing TN as Health Tourism Destination

Taiwan Targets Medical Tourism

Malaysia Medical Tourism Sector Has Room to Grow

Panama Seeks to Cash in on Medical Tourism Boom

Hungarian Tourism Promotes Medical Tourism

Boao Lecheng to be Built into a World-Class Medical Travel Destination


SPOTLIGHT: Kimberly Smith, Partner and Managing Co-director, Eastern Region, Witt/Kieffer


Jeffrey M. Hartog, M.D., Improving the Body While on Vacation

Industry News

AWC in Bahamas to Discuss $200 Million Medical Tourism Center

Nueterra Global Alliance Partners with Star Healthcare Network

Tourism Observatory for Health, Wellness and Spa Website Goes Live

Medical Tourism in Argentina on the Rise

PlacidWay Joins Qatar-Based Dolphin Travels in Promoting Medical Tourism

Employee Benefits News: Obama Pulls Back Health Law Promise as Exchange Costs Double


How Government Killed the Medical Profession

Ensuring Patient Safety: Making Sure Medical Tourism Puts Its Money Where Its Mouth Is

Upcoming Events

4th Medical Travel International Business Summit

2013 CMTR European Medical Tourism Research Symposium

International Summit on Health & Wellness Tourism

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

Malaysia International Medical Tourism Fair

Global Connected Care Conference & 4th Meditour Expo

Africa Medical Executives & Medical Tourism Conference

Indian Medical Tourism Conference 2013

4 th Medical Tourism Saint Petersburg Exhibition

Mexico: Global Summit on Medical Tourism Business

2nd Malaysia International Healthcare Travel Expo

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Global Health Voyager


Volume 7, Issue 9

By Amanda Haar, Editor


Regular readers of Medical Travel Today may notice that I chose to play a little loose with our traditional editorial structure this issue and not lead with our SPOTLIGHT interview. I did so because I felt that the opening OPINION piece offered some interesting history and context to the SPOTLIGHT.

A 30-year veteran of the US healthcare system, Jeffrey Singer, M.D., provides an excellent overview of the demise of the American healthcare system, beginning in the 1980s and continuing to the present day. The problems he cites have contributed to the decision by many healthcare professionals, including Dr. Singer, to consider leaving the field altogether, as well as the current need for reform.

As Dr. Singer notes, despite the problems dragging the system down opportunities are arising. These same opportunities are addressed in the SPOTLIGHT by Kimberly Smith, partner and managing co-director, of Witt/Kieffer.

I think it's an interesting dual perspective on the current state of affairs and the potential future for customized care and medical travel.

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


Amanda Haar, Editor

Global Health Voyager

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How Government Killed the Medical Profession
As health care gets more bureaucratic, will doctors go Galt?
By Jeffrey A. Singer

Originally published by Reason Magazine and reason.com and reprinted with permission.

I am a general surgeon with more than three decades in private clinical practice. And I am fed up. Since the late 1970s, I have witnessed remarkable technological revolutions in medicine, from CT scans to robot-assisted surgery. But I have also watched as medicine slowly evolved into the domain of technicians, bookkeepers, and clerks.

Government interventions over the past four decades have yielded a cascade of perverse incentives, bureaucratic diktats, and economic pressures that together are forcing doctors to sacrifice their independent professional medical judgment, and their integrity. The consequence is clear: Many doctors from my generation are exiting the field. Others are seeing their private practices threatened with bankruptcy, or are giving up their autonomy for the life of a shift-working hospital employee. Governments and hospital administrators hold all the power, while doctors—and worse still, patients—hold none.

The Coding Revolution

At first, the decay was subtle. In the 1980s, Medicare imposed price controls upon physicians who treated anyone over 65. Any provider wishing to get compensated was required to use International Statistical Classification of Diseases (ICD) and Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes to describe the service when submitting a bill. The designers of these systems believed that standardized classifications would lead to more accurate adjudication of Medicare claims.

What it actually did was force doctors to wedge their patients and their services into predetermined, ill-fitting categories. This approach resembled the command-and-control models used in the Soviet bloc and the People's Republic of China, models that were already failing spectacularly by the end of the 1980s.

Before long, these codes were attached to a fee schedule based upon the amount of time a medical professional had to devote to each patient, a concept perilously close to another Marxist relic: the labor theory of value. Named the Resource-Based Relative Value System (RBRVS), each procedure code was assigned a specific value, by a panel of experts, based supposedly upon the amount of time and labor it required. It didn't matter if an operation was being performed by a renowned surgical expert—perhaps the inventor of the procedure—or by a doctor just out of residency doing the operation for the first time. They both got paid the same.

Hospitals' reimbursements for their Medicare-patient treatments were based on another coding system: the Diagnosis Related Group (DRG). Each diagnostic code is assigned a specific monetary value, and the hospital is paid based on one or a combination of diagnostic codes used to describe the reason for a patient's hospitalization. If, say, the diagnosis is pneumonia, then the hospital is given a flat amount for that diagnosis, regardless of the amount of equipment, staffing, and days used to treat a particular patient.

As a result, the hospital is incentivized to attach as many adjunct diagnostic codes as possible to try to increase the Medicare payday. It is common for hospital coders to contact the attending physicians and try to coax them into adding a few more diagnoses into the hospital record.

Medicare has used these two price-setting systems (RBRVS for doctors, DRG for hospitals) to maintain its price control system for more than 20 years. Doctors and their advocacy associations cooperated, trading their professional latitude for the lure of maintaining monopoly control of the ICD and CPT codes that determine their payday. The goal of setting their own prices has proved elusive, though—every year the industry's biggest trade group, the American Medical Association, squabbles with various medical specialty associations and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) over fees.

As goes Medicare, so goes the private insurance industry. Insurers, starting in the late 1980s, began the practice of using the Medicare fee schedule to serve as the basis for negotiation of compensation with the doctors and hospitals on their preferred provider lists. An insurance company might offer a hospital 130 percent of Medicare's reimbursement for a specific procedure code, for instance.
The coding system was supposed to improve the accuracy of adjudicating claims submitted by doctors and hospitals to Medicare, and later to non-Medicare insurance companies. Instead, it gave doctors and hospitals an incentive to find ways of describing procedures and services with the cluster of codes that would yield the biggest payment. Sometimes this required the assistance of consulting firms. A cottage industry of fee-maximizing advisors and seminars bloomed.

I recall more than one occasion when I discovered at such a seminar that I was “undercoding" for procedures I routinely perform; a small tweak meant a bigger check for me. That fact encouraged me to keep one eye on the codes at all times, leaving less attention for my patients. Today, most doctors in private practice employ coding specialists, a relatively new occupation, to oversee their billing departments.

Another goal of the coding system was to provide Medicare, regulatory agencies, research organizations, and insurance companies with a standardized method of collecting epidemiological data—the information medical professionals use to track ailments across different regions and populations. However, the developers of the coding system did not anticipate the unintended consequence of linking the laudable goal of epidemiologic data mining with a system of financial reward.

This coding system leads inevitably to distortions in epidemiological data. Because doctors are required to come up with a diagnostic code on each bill submitted in order to get paid, they pick the code that comes closest to describing the patient's problem while yielding maximum remuneration. The same process plays out when it comes to submitting procedure codes on bills. As a result, the accuracy of the data collected since the advent of compensation coding is suspect.

Coding was one of the earliest manifestations of the cancer consuming the medical profession, but the disease is much more broad-based and systemic. The root of the problem is that patients are not payers. Through myriad tax and regulatory policies adopted on the federal and state level, the system rarely sees a direct interaction between a consumer and a provider of a health care good or service. Instead, a third party—either a private insurance company or a government payer, such as Medicare or Medicaid—covers almost all the costs. According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, on average, the consumer pays only 12 percent of the total health care bill directly out of pocket. There is no incentive, through a market system with transparent prices, for either the provider or the consumer to be cost-effective.

As the third party payment system led health care costs to escalate, the people footing the bill have attempted to rein in costs with yet more command-and-control solutions. In the 1990s, private insurance carriers did this through a form of health plan called a health maintenance organization, or HMO. Strict oversight, rationing, and practice protocols were imposed on both physicians and patients. Both groups protested loudly. Eventually, most of these top-down regulations were set aside, and many HMOs were watered down into little more than expensive prepaid health plans.
Then, as the 1990s gave way to the 21st century, demographic reality caught up with Medicare and Medicaid, the two principal drivers of federal health care spending.

Twenty years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, protocols and regimentation were imposed on America's physicians through a centralized bureaucracy. Using so-called “evidence-based medicine," algorithms and protocols were based on statistically generalized, rather than individualized, outcomes in large population groups.

While all physicians appreciate the development of general approaches to the work-up and treatment of various illnesses and disorders, we also realize that everyone is an individual—that every protocol or algorithm is based on the average, typical case. We want to be able to use our knowledge, years of experience, and sometimes even our intuition to deal with each patient as a unique person while bearing in mind what the data and research reveal.

Being pressured into following a pre-determined set of protocols inhibits clinical judgment, especially when it comes to atypical problems. Some medical educators are concerned that excessive reliance on these protocols could make students less likely to recognize and deal with complicated clinical presentations that don't follow standard patterns. It is easy to standardize treatment protocols. But it is difficult to standardize patients.

What began as guidelines eventually grew into requirements. In order for hospitals to maintain their Medicare certification, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began to require their medical staff to follow these protocols or face financial retribution.

Once again, the medical profession cooperated. The American College of Surgeons helped develop Surgical Care Improvement Project (SCIP) protocols, directing surgeons as to what antibiotics they may use and the day-to-day post-operative decisions they must make. If a surgeon deviates from the guidelines, he is usually required to document in the medical record an acceptable justification for that decision.

These requirements have consequences. On more than one occasion I have seen patients develop dramatic postoperative bruising and bleeding because of protocol-mandated therapies aimed at preventing the development of blood clots in the legs after surgery. Had these therapies been left up to the clinical judgment of the surgeon, many of these patients might not have had the complication.
Operating room and endoscopy suites now must follow protocols developed by the global World Health Organization—an even more remote agency. There are protocols for cardiac catheterization, stenting, and respirator management, just to name a few.

Patients should worry about doctors trying to make symptoms fit into a standardized clinical model and ignoring the vital nuances of their complaints. Even more, they should be alarmed that the protocols being used don't provide any measurable health benefits. Most were designed and implemented before any objective evidence existed as to their effectiveness.

A large Veterans Administration study released in March 2011 showed that SCIP protocols led to no improvement in surgical-site infection rate. If past is prologue, we should not expect the SCIP protocols to be repealed, just “improved"—or expanded, adding to the already existing glut.

These rules are being bred into the system. Young doctors and medical students are being trained to follow protocol. To them, command and control is normal. But to older physicians who have lived through the decline of medical culture, this only contributes to our angst.

One of my colleagues, a noted pulmonologist with over 30 years' experience, fears that teaching young physicians to follow guidelines and practice protocols discourages creative medical thinking and may lead to a decrease in diagnostic and therapeutic excellence. He laments that “ ‘evidence-based' means you are not interested in listening to anyone." Another colleague, a North Phoenix orthopedist of many years, decries the “cookie-cutter" approach mandated by protocols.

A noted gastroenterologist who has practiced more than 35 years has a more cynical take on things. He believes that the increased regimentation and regularization of medicine is a prelude to the replacement of physicians by nurse practitioners and physician-assistants, and that these people will be even more likely to follow the directives proclaimed by regulatory bureaus. It is true that, in many cases, routine medical problems can be handled more cheaply and efficiently by paraprofessionals. But these practitioners are also limited by depth of knowledge, understanding, and experience. Patients should be able to decide for themselves if they want to be seen by a doctor. It is increasingly rare that patients are given a choice about such things.

The partners in my practice all believe that protocols and guidelines will accomplish nothing more than giving us more work to do and more rules to comply with. But they implore me to keep my mouth shut—rather than risk angering hospital administrators, insurance company executives, and the other powerful entities that control our fates.

When Congress passed the stimulus, a.k.a. the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, it included a requirement that all physicians and hospitals convert to electronic medical records (EMR) by 2014 or face Medicare reimbursement penalties. There has never been a peer-reviewed study clearly demonstrating that requiring all doctors and hospitals to switch to electronic records will decrease error and increase efficiency, but that didn't stop Washington policymakers from repeating that claim over and over again in advance of the stimulus.

Some institutions, such as Kaiser Permanente Health Systems, the Mayo Clinic, and the Veterans Administration Hospitals, have seen big benefits after going digital voluntarily. But if the same benefits could reasonably be expected to play out universally, government coercion would not be needed.

Instead, Congress made that business decision on behalf of thousands of doctors and hospitals, who must now spend huge sums on the purchase of EMR systems and take staff off other important jobs to task them with entering thousands of old-style paper medical records into the new database. For a period of weeks or months after the new system is in place, doctors must see fewer patients as they adapt to the demands of the technology.

The persistence of price controls has coincided with a steady ratcheting down of fees for doctors. As a result, private insurance payments, which are typically pegged to Medicare payment schedules, have been ratcheting down as well. Meanwhile, Medicare's regulatory burdens on physician practices continue to increase, adding on compliance costs. Medicare continues to demand that specific coded services be redefined and subdivided into ever-increasing levels of complexity. Harsh penalties are imposed on providers who accidentally use the wrong level code to bill for a service. Sometimes—as in the case of John Natale of Arlington, Illinois, who began a 10-month sentence in November because he miscoded bills on five patients upon whom he repaired complicated abdominal aortic aneurysms—the penalty can even include prison.

For many physicians in private practice, the EMR requirement is the final straw. Doctors are increasingly selling their practices to hospitals, thus becoming hospital employees. This allows them to offload the high costs of regulatory compliance and converting to EMR.

As doctors become shift workers, they work less intensely and watch the clock much more than they did when they were in private practice. Additionally, the doctor-patient relationship is adversely affected as doctors come to increasingly view their customers as the hospitals' patients rather than their own.

In 2011, The New England Journal of Medicine reported that fully 50 percent of the nation's doctors had become employees—either of hospitals, corporations, insurance companies, or the government. Just six years earlier, in 2005, more than two-thirds of doctors were in private practice. As economic pressures on the sustainability of private clinical practice continue to mount, we can expect this trend to continue.

Accountable Care Organizations

For the next 19 years, an average of 10,000 Americans will turn 65 every day, increasing the fiscal strain on Medicare. Bureaucrats are trying to deal with this partly by reinstating an old concept under a new name: Accountable Care Organization, or ACO, which harkens back to the infamous HMO system of the early 1990s.

In a nutshell, hospitals, clinics, and health care providers have been given incentives to organize into teams that will get assigned groups of 5,000 or more Medicare patients. They will be expected to follow practice guidelines and protocols approved by Medicare. If they achieve certain benchmarks established by Medicare with respect to cost, length of hospital stay, re-admissions, and other measures, they will get to share a portion of Medicare's savings. If the reverse happens, there will be economic penalties.

Naturally, private insurance companies are following suit with non-Medicare versions of the ACO, intended primarily for new markets created by ObamaCare. In this model, an ACO is given a lump sum, or bundled payment, by the insurance company. That chunk of money is intended to cover the cost of all the care for a large group of insurance beneficiaries. The private ACOs are expected to follow the same Medicare-approved practice protocols, but all of the financial risks are assumed by the ACOs. If the ACOs keep costs down, the team of providers and hospitals reap the financial reward: surplus from the lump sum payment. If they lose money, the providers and hospitals eat the loss.

In both the Medicare and non-Medicare varieties of the ACO, cost control and compliance with centrally planned practice guidelines are the primary goal.

ACOs are meant to replace a fee-for-service payment model that critics argue encourages providers to perform more services and procedures on patients than they otherwise would do. This assumes that all providers are unethical, motivated only by the desire for money. But the salaried and prepaid models of provider-reimbursement are also subject to unethical behavior in our current system. There is no reward for increased productivity with the salary model. With the prepaid model there is actually an incentive to maximize profit by withholding services.

Each of these models has its pros and cons. In a true market-based system, where competition rewards positive results, the consumer would be free to choose among the various competing compensation arrangements.

With increasing numbers of health care providers becoming salaried employees of hospitals, that's not likely. Instead, we'll see greater bureaucratization. Hospitals might be able to get ACOs to work better than their ancestor HMOs, because hospital administrators will have more control over their medical staff. If doctors don't follow the protocols and guidelines, and desired outcomes are not reached, hospitals can replace the “problem" doctors.

Doctors Going Galt?

Once free to be creative and innovative in their own practices, doctors are becoming more like assembly-line workers, constrained by rules and regulations aimed to systemize their craft. It's no surprise that retirement is starting to look more attractive. The advent of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which put the medical profession's already bad trajectory on steroids, has for many doctors become the straw that broke the camel's back.

A June 2012 survey of 36,000 doctors in active clinical practice by the Doctors and Patients Medical Association found 90 percent of doctors believe the medical system is “on the wrong track" and 83 percent are thinking about quitting. Another 85 percent said “the medical profession is in a tailspin." 65 percent say that “government involvement is most to blame for current problems." In addition, 2 out of 3 physicians surveyed in private clinical practice stated they were “just squeaking by or in the red financially."

A separate survey of 2,218 physicians, conducted online by the national health care recruiter Jackson Healthcare, found that 34 percent of physicians plan to leave the field over the next decade. What's more, 16 percent said they would retire or move to part-time in 2012. “Of those physicians who said they plan to retire or leave medicine this year," the study noted, “56% cited economic factors and 51% cited health reform as among the major factors. Of those physicians who said they are strongly considering leaving medicine in 2012, 55% or 97 physicians, were under age 55."

Interestingly, these surveys were completed two years after a pre-ObamaCare survey reported in The New England Journal of Medicine found 46.3 percent of primary care physicians stated passage of the new health law would “either force them out of medicine or make them want to leave medicine."
It has certainly affected my plans. Starting in 2012, I cut back on my general surgery practice. As co-founder of my private group surgical practice in 1986, I reached an arrangement with my partners freeing me from taking night calls, weekend calls, or emergency daytime calls. I now work 40 hours per week, down from 60 or 70. While I had originally planned to practice at least another 12 to 14 years, I am now heading for an exit—and a career change—in the next four years. I didn't sign up for the kind of medical profession that awaits me a few years from now.

Many of my generational peers in medicine have made similar arrangements, taken early retirement, or quit practice and gone to work for hospitals or as consultants to insurance companies. Some of my colleagues who practice primary care are starting cash-only “concierge" medical practices, in which they accept no Medicare, Medicaid, or any private insurance.

As old-school independent-thinking doctors leave, they are replaced by protocol-followers. Medicine in just one generation is transforming from a craft to just another rote occupation.

Medicine in the Future

In the not-too-distant future, a small but healthy market will arise for cash-only, personalized, private care. For those who can afford it, there will always be competitive, market-driven clinics, hospitals, surgicenters, and other arrangements—including “medical tourism," whereby health care packages are offered at competitive rates in overseas medical centers. Similar healthy markets already exist in areas such as Lasik eye surgery and cosmetic procedures. The medical profession will survive and even thrive in these small private niches.

In other words, we're about to experience the two-tiered system that already exists in most parts of the world that provide “universal coverage." Those who have the financial means will still be able to get prompt, courteous, personalized, state-of-the-art health care from providers who consider themselves professionals. But the majority can expect long lines, mediocre and impersonal care from shift-working providers, subtle but definite rationing, and slowly deteriorating outcomes.

We already see this in Canada, where cash-only clinics are beginning to spring up, and the United Kingdom, where a small but healthy private system exists side-by-side with the National Health Service, providing high-end, fee-for-service, private health care, with little or no waiting.

Ayn Rand's philosophical novel Atlas Shrugged describes a dystopian near-future America. One of its characters is Dr. Thomas Hendricks, a prominent and innovative neurosurgeon who one day just disappears. He could no longer be a part of a medical system that denied him autonomy and dignity. Dr. Hendricks' warning deserves repeating:

“Let them discover the kind of doctors that their system will now produce. Let them discover, in their operating rooms and hospital wards that it is not safe to place their lives in the hands of a man whose life they have throttled. It is not safe, if he is the sort of man who resents it—and still less safe, if he is the sort who doesn't."



Kimberly Smith, Witt/Kieffer

Kimberly Smith, Partner and Managing Co-director, Eastern Region, Witt/Kieffer


Medical Travel Today (MTT): Let's start with a bit about Witt/Kieffer and your background as it relates to healthcare. What can you share with us?

Kimberly Smith (KS): Witt/Kieffer is an executive search firm that's been in business for more than 40 years. Our historical focus and the lion's share of our current focus is on the healthcare industry, and most of our efforts center around helping organizations like hospitals, health networks, physician groups, insurers and other groups find and place higher-level healthcare executives. Roughly 80 percent of our work is in this area, while the remaining 20 percent falls mainly in the areas of higher education and non-profit organizations. I was an executive for several healthcare organizations for many years, and so it was a natural transition for me to become a search consultant and help similar organizations to find new leaders.

MTT: You were recently quoted in FierceHealthcare as saying that, for most health systems around the country, the re-election of President Obama “validates what they have been working towards anyway." Can you elaborate on that?

KS: Before I address the quote, let me offer some context. I've spent most of my career in healthcare, and I reside in Massachusetts where healthcare reform has already been in effect for several years. We've gone through the trials and fits and starts that comprehensive reform entails.

Even with the challenges to implementation, it's clear that integrated delivery—a key aspect of reform where organizations are able to provide a so-called “continuum of care" to patients—is the best model for care delivery and that the trend toward integration is inevitable. Aligning incentives and shared risk and shared investment in the outcome of patient care is inarguably the right thing to do. So even though these are aspects of government reform, healthcare professionals and organizations have been moving in that direction for some time. I think it's safe to say that, even if Obamacare had unwound, most health systems were going to adopt dramatically different models and types of care anyway.

MTT: How do you see healthcare reform impacting the growth of medical travel, both domestic and international?

KS: In general, reform is encouraging larger health networks and new types of insurance plans, both of which are opening up opportunities for patients to seek care in facilities and locations they previously could not go to. At the same time, reform is also encouraging hospitals and health systems to reach out to a broader patient base.

Let me provide one example: A key element of reform is bundled payments, or packaged pricing of care costs. Inbound medical travelers from abroad are, for the most part, paying cash, meaning their payment is unfettered by federal, state and commercial payers and the bundling requirements. In the healthcare world, there is very little cash business left. The beauty of the inbound medical tourist is that the revenue drops immediately to the bottom line. Therefore, it's likely that large healthcare providers that have the resources will continue to reach out to these tourists.

On the domestic side, the important thing for healthcare providers is not just to grow one's market, but to also keep a steady volume of patients coming to facilities. In the case of surgical centers, for example, you've got so much invested in fixed overhead in operating rooms that you have got to drive well-paying volume through it. In some places operating rooms run 24/7, and any down time is a financial drain. Appealing to domestic medical tourists is a way of making this happen.

These are just a few ways that reform is impacting medical travel and will continue to do so.

MTT: What are the obstacles to the acceptance of medical travel and do you see those being overcome in the near future?

KS: On the inbound side I'd say they're the same thing you or I would have traveling abroad. Things like potential language barriers, finding a place for family members to stay, ensuring that they can take time off from work to accompany you, etc. In addition, it simply takes a lot of resources, including money. Not everyone can afford to do it.
As for the outbound U.S. traveler, I think the biggest issues are in the area of liability and malpractice issues and security. As Americans we're very accustomed to having a certain level of emotional security and guarantees that we'll receive the best possible care. As an example, in many countries you can get over-the-counter medicines that we can't get here. That's because we have a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other protections in place that are designed to ensure we get treated well and are not unnecessarily harmed by care or medication.

Not all Americans are fully informed about the lack of protection that exists when traveling abroad. When there are few regulations, risks go up. I would urge all medical travelers, regardless of point of origin and destination, to always be mindful of the cost/safety balance. It has to be considered.

As for Americans traveling domestically, I think there are just some ways of thinking that will have to be overcome. So many people are accustomed to their insurance paying for everything, but this is changing as new types of coverage are emerging. For example, lines between states are blurring as healthcare networks cross borders and employers with operations in multiple states seek the best care and plans for their workers. This is opening up the potential for employees to seek care beyond the limits of their traditional providers, and is really opening up domestic medical travel options for these employees.

MTT: In your efforts to place high-level executives, is knowledge of medical travel a desirable factor?

KS: It depends on the person's role. If we're asked to do a search for, say, the senior vice president in Planning or Business Development at a Mayo Clinic or Lahey Clinic, there would be an expectation that they are familiar with or connected to the industry. For many of the systems we work with that have international operations, I'd say that it's a given expectation.

However, I will also say this: For executives who have worked at major hospitals and health systems overseas, coming back home and finding work is not always easy. For whatever reason, their domestic peers don't always view their experience as relevant to what's happening here. It's unfortunate because they tend to come back with a broader sense of how to deliver care and a new level of cultural sensitivity. These are things that should be valued.

About Kimberly Smith, FACHE

Kimberly A. Smith, partner and managing co-director of the Eastern region for Witt/Kieffer, applies leadership development, operations, physician relations and staff and patient satisfaction expertise when identifying the right candidates for her clients. Based in the firm's Boston office, Kim conducts searches for senior executives on behalf of hospitals, health systems, integrated delivery systems, managed care clients, colleges and universities, and community and cultural organizations.

Kim joined Witt/Kieffer after many years in senior-level operations and human resources at Northeast Health System and Beverly Hospital in Beverly, Mass. She served as chief operating officer for the Beverly Hospital Hunt Center and was an integral member of the senior management team that positioned Northeast Health as a leader in vertically integrated healthcare systems. Most recently, she was president and CEO of Jewish Memorial Hospital and Rehabilitation Center in Boston where she had executive accountability for the 207-bed long-term acute care hospital. She has also served on a number of committees in the Massachusetts Hospital Association in Burlington.

Kim is currently active in the advancement of healthcare leadership, which includes serving as a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) and as president of the HealthCare Management Association of Massachusetts, a chapter of the ACHE. In addition, she has served in leadership roles in community organizations. She is the former chair of the Southern Essex Workforce Investment Board and the former co-chair of the North Shore Healthcare Consortium, a collaboration of more than 20 hospitals and higher education institutions. She also chaired the Cooperative Education Employer Advisory Board of Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., for 10 years.


Jeffrey M. Hartog, M.D., Improving the Body While on Vacation

Dr. Hartog.jpg

Jeffrey M. Hartog, M.D., Bougainvillea Clinique, Winter Park, FL

I'm no stranger to exotic locations and travel, especially for medical training or to meet patients' medical needs. I grew up and received my early dentistry training in Johannesburg, South Africa. Since that time I have trained and lived in Miami, Dallas, Salt Lake City and Glasgow, Scotland, where I received my medical and cosmetic surgery training.

I settled in Orlando, Fla., because I saw a need for a regenerative cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon in this thriving tourist area. With more than 55 million annual visitors (more than New York City), Orlando is seeing more instances where those visitors are coming as patients, as well as thrill seekers. At the Bougainvillea Clinique, my cosmetic surgery practice, I see patients from every part of the country -- patients who find it convenient to have procedures done while on vacation.

Part of the reason they come here is because I offer fat transfer for patients wishing to enhance their breasts, reconstruct breasts after mastectomy or lumpectomy, and to restore that youthful look to the face or hands. These procedures are outpatient and require minimal recovery time. Most procedures require 48 hours of recovery, which allows patients to still enjoy all that Orlando has to offer. Other procedures, such as reconstruction after a mastectomy, may require repeat visits to achieve the most natural looking breasts, which are a benefit of the fat transfer technique.

In the fat transfer procedure, fat is taken from one area of the body and purified. It's then injected in small droplets into the face, hands or breasts. Fat that isn't initially used is stored for future use.

One of my patients, a Massachusetts woman in her 60s, had many options for cosmetic surgery in the Boston area. She came to my clinic because she could have her procedure, enjoy a vacation, and easily explain away her two weeks in Orlando to friends and family.

For patients like her, we are able to book accommodations. We maintain a list of different hotels and lodgings to suit the individual's tastes, budget and, of course, companion travelers. Even with travel and accommodation costs, many people find it more affordable to have their surgery performed here than locally. This is particularly true if they can include some vacation time, as well.

Additionally, Orlando International Airport offers many direct flights from a number of locations, which can make for a quick check-up with a doctor more than convenient.

In recent years, Orlando has seen itself become the top destination for hosting professional medical meetings in the country. This has helped spur substantial investment in transforming the city into a medial mecca of expertise and technological prowess, all with the intention of attracting greater numbers of medical visitors. Perhaps the crowning jewel of these efforts, a 7,000-acre lakeside facility known as Medical City, is a strong reminder of Orlando's increasing clout as a popular medical destination.

The variety of attractions, year-round sunshine and easy international access make Orlando one of the world's most popular destinations for its natural and historical attractions, as well as endless sports and recreational activities. And now also for the enormous benefits that Orlando provides to individuals seeking medical treatment.

About Jeffrey Hartog, M.D.

Jeffrey Hartog, M.D., is the director of the Bougainvillea Clinique in Winter Park, Fla. Dr. Hartog has been a surgeon for more than 20 years, and has traveled around the world to receive training and hone his skills in the field. He has received recognition not only for his skill as a surgeon, but also as a visionary in the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery.

The Bougainvillea Clinique is the first plastic surgery clinic in the United States to have immediate access to the Liquid Gold Lipobank, an FDA-registered tissue bank to store fat removed with liposuction for fat grafting procedures.

Industry News

AWC in Bahamas to Discuss $200 Million Medical Tourism Center

thebahamasweekly.com - Executives from the global healthcare venture American World Clinics (AWC) are in the Bahamas this week to discuss the establishment of the country's biggest medical tourism site — a $200 million-plus venture to create over 200 jobs post construction.

To continue reading click here.

Industry News

Nueterra Global Alliance Partners with Star Healthcare Network



Nueterra Global Alliance is proud to announce its formal service partnership with Star Healthcare Network, Inc.

“Star Healthcare Network is an integral part of our workflow," shared David Miller, president of Nueterra Global Alliance. “They coordinate all the information with patients, health systems and case managers, helping us provide a continuum of care." When a patient expresses interest in destination healthcare, the Nueterra Global Alliance patient care coordinators provide communication before and after the healthcare treatment. Star Healthcare Network is a part of this communication, but its presence is unknown to the patient.

“Our processes are created with the patient in mind. With one phone call the patient can inquire about healthcare treatments beyond his local community. The follow-up is handled proactively once the patient has identified his need and submitted his medical history."

Nilsa Flores, Star Healthcare Network's director of operations, works meticulously with Nueterra Global Alliance on the coordination of the patient with the provider.  

Its president, Gigi Galen Grobstein , founded Star Healthcare Network in September 2002. Based out of New York, N.Y., Star Healthcare Network is an international Preferred Provider Organization (PPO). With more than 10 years of experience collaborating with healthcare providers and insurance companies, Star Healthcare Network was the missing element for Nueterra Global Alliance's success.

“The wealth of knowledge and expertise Gigi brings as a service partner to Nueterra Global Alliance is critical to our success in providing borderless healthcare solutions to patients and healthcare providers," shared Dan Tasset, chairman of Nueterra. “Grobstein is respected in the medical industry and enhances our credibility within the global healthcare community."

In the spring of 2012, Nueterra acquired an ownership stake in a San Francisco-based health travel company to facilitate travel, tracking, outcomes and interaction between patients, providers and physicians. Nueterra Global Alliance allows patients and referral partners to choose a physician or provider based on a medical specialty or geographic region. An extension of Nueterra, Nueterra Global Alliance is an international network of physicians, providers and health systems that provides international patient access and coordination. Star Healthcare Network is the newest service partner within the Nueterra Global Alliance.

Industry News

Tourism Observatory for Health, Wellness and Spa Website Goes Live

Health is one of the most important motivations for domestic and international travelers, alike. There are many organizations and companies dealing some aspect of the traveling for health spectrum, e.g. spa, wellness or medical. We do not know any other, however, that would attempt to have a full and global focus. That is why we created The Tourism Observatory for Health, Wellness and Spa (TOHWS).

TOHWS provides a platform for industry, investors and academics. To us, travel for health means travel for total health, be it medical, wellness, well-being, holistic, spiritual, spa or medical wellness. TOHWS is dedicated to:

  • Analysis
  • Assessment
  • Forecasting
  • Monitoring
  • Developing the various elements and services one can use for improving health, from the surgical to the spiritual end of the spectrum.

One of the key objectives of TOHWS is to improve the understanding of the ways in which travel and tourism can improve health, wellness, well-being and quality of life. The recently launched website provides several solutions and resources to the industry:

  • We are the proud hosts of the Global Speaker Group (GSG). GSG is a network of prestigious group of experts who represent vast experiences in wellness and spa, and TOHWS provides representation for them for speaking and training requests.
  • The global health tourism industry is very fragmented and does not even have a common vocabulary. We developed an analytical framework, the Global Health Tourism Services Grid, in order to contribute to a better understanding and facilitate further developments.
  • Ever-growing list of publications and resources, such as recent reports, articles and papers on medical, wellness, spa tourism, quality of life and spa experiences.
  • Research Results and Intelligence. We are proud to state that we have been involved in research project and intelligence development for about 20 years. Certainly, the key specialization has been researching, analyzing and monitoring health, medical, wellness and spa tourism. Various reports and research papers are available to download.

The websites of TOHWS (thetourismobservatory.org and healthtourismworldwide.com) are an ever-evolving source of information and inspiration to anyone in wellness, spa and medical tourism.

Industry News

Medical Tourism in Argentina on the Rise

tourism-review.com — The economy of Argentina has recovered, as is quite evident in its increase of spending power. According to a Timetric report, tourism volumes will be growing at a CAGR of nearly 4.19 percent over four years beginning from 2013. All this is the result of government efforts and the rich cultural heritage of this country. Coupled with this is the medical tourism that has put Argentina in the tourism spotlight.

Domestic tourism has increased by 8.3 percent in 2012 over 2011. This has been facilitated by extensive and low-cost transportation, along with massive governmental efforts to promote the coastal cities of the country by comparing them with similar options elsewhere.

In 2013, the inbound tourism is expected to be still higher than 2012 figures. This is mainly due to the influx of tourists from South and Central America, Chile, Brazil and European countries. An added attraction is the legalization of same-sex marriage, which has given a boost to the number of couples visiting Argentina by providing a completely new customer base.

Various events in sports, politics and culture are being organized in Argentina in order to attract leisure, as well as business tourists. The impact of Brazil hosting the Football World Cup in 2014, as well as the Olympics in 2016, will be felt on Argentine tourism, too.

Medical tourism is also becoming increasingly popular and is expected to grow. The key factor behind this is the strong medical infrastructure of the country, ensuring the availability of affordable yet efficient medical services. In addition, the country offers a wide range of available treatments, good quality and affordable lodging for family members, spas, resorts and natural springs to aid in a pleasant recovery

Industry News

PlacidWay Joins Qatar-Based Dolphin Travels in Promoting Medical Tourism

PlacidWay, an international medical resource and provider, has recently joined forces with Dolphin Travels, a boutique travel agency based in Qatar, to promote medical and health tourism by offering customized travel solutions that include medical and wellness treatment packages for centers around the world.

"We are happy to join efforts with Dolphin Travels in providing global travelers the best in travel solutions, connecting consumers with the ideal in Health and Wellness centers from around the world," says Pramod Goel, CEO and founder of Placid Way. "Personal choice is a valuable commodity these days, one that every person deserves when it comes to their health and wellness."

Dolphin Travels specializes in providing customized travel solutions in medical and wellness tourism, adventure tourism, ship cruises and air charters. "As a boutique travel house, we customize travel solutions to suit our client's needs and budget. We offer high-level service at extremely competitive rates. We recognize the growing demand for medical and wellness tourism in Qatar, hence our partnership with Placidway will capitalize on this opportunity."

Abdulla Al Misnad, chairman of Dolphin Travels, added, "Together with Placidway we will offer competitive health and wellness packages for accredited medical centers globally." Dolphin Travels and Placid Way offer access to those seeking comprehensive, affordable treatments and alternatives when it comes to advanced cancer care, cardiac procedures and obesity and weight loss procedures, provided by accredited and certified medical centers, doctors and surgeons around the world. From stem cell treatment options to orthopedic surgery, residents of Qatar can now explore affordable global options for health and wellness care.

"Whether you are looking for cosmetic and plastic surgery from leading cosmetic surgeons in the world, or dental treatments utilizing the latest technologies, it's important for customers to know they have a choice," says Goel. "If you are seeking a premier infertility center abroad or an Ayurvedic or holistic yoga retreat as an alternative healthcare approach, Dolphin Travels can customize such healthcare and medical vacations at affordable rates."

Popular travel packages offered by Dolphin Travels include, but are not limited to, CCSVI multiple sclerosis treatments, hip replacement surgery in India, maxillofacial surgery in Turkey, or stem cell treatments to help cure Parkinson's disease. Dolphin Travels can also facilitate treatments in anti-aging, alternative medicine, Ayurveda, cancer or chronic disease care, plastic surgery, dentistry, fertility treatments in countries like Mexico, the US, Argentina, Turkey, Germany, Croatia, Singapore, India and Thailand.

Industry News

Employee Benefits News: Obama Pulls Back Health Law Promise as Exchange Costs Double

By Bloomberg News Service

The $1.3 trillion U.S. health-care system overhaul is getting more expensive and will initially accomplish less than intended.
Costs for a network of health-insurance exchanges, a core part of the Affordable Care Act, have swelled to $4.4 billion for fiscal 2012 and 2013 combined, and will reach $5.7 billion in 2014, according to the budget President Barack Obama yesterday sent to Congress. That spending would be more than double initial projections, even though less than half the 50 U.S. states are participating.

To continue reading click here.


Ensuring Patient Safety: Making Sure Medical Tourism Puts Its Money Where Its Mouth Is

By Richard Krasner

The medical tourism industry prides itself on the better quality of care found in hospitals in medical tourism destinations, but questions how good American hospitals remain.

Insurance Thought Leadership.com   published an article today called   The Most Dangerous Place In The World, written by Leah Binder, president and CEO of   The Leapfrog Group (Leapfrog), a national organization based in Washington, D.C., representing employer purchasers of healthcare and calling for improvements in the safety and quality of the nation's hospitals.

Her article describes the hospital stay of the father of a Harvard professor in an American hospital that was anything but routine.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the article, which should give the medical tourism industry some solace, and reason to make sure that their hospitals are better than those in the US:

  • American hospitals are "the most dangerous place in the world."
  • The safety problem is an open secret among people in the healthcare industry.   The statistics are staggering.   Each year, one in four people admitted to a hospital suffer some form of harm, and more than 500 patients per day die.
  • We must have a better approach for tracking harm in the hospital. Hospitals need to feel the financial consequences of providing unsafe care, and be accountable for patient safety.
  • Last year, The Leapfrog Group initiated an effort to rate the safety of 2,600 hospitals.   The Hospital Safety Score   is available to the public for free on a website and as an app.
  • A recent AARP Magazine article   notes features used in safer hospitals that all of us should look for in our own hospitals.

If the medical tourism industry is to remain viable and grow larger around the world, it is imperative that hospital administrators, patient advocates, providers, medical tourism facilitators, ministries of health and other relevant government entities insist on not only reaching quality measures in the US, but also beating them, and beating them by an overwhelming margin that makes medical tourism a sound alternative, not only for individual or group health insurance patients, but for patients injured on the job and covered under workers' compensation.

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

Upcoming Events

4th Medical Travel International Business Summit

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April 24-26, 2013 - Los Suenos 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 Summit on Health & Wellness Tourism


April 26-28, 2013 - The Ashok, New Delhi, India

This conference will feature experts in the health tourism and wellness industry who will present attendees with a wide-range of experience and expertise concerning medical tourism worldwide, as well as other relevant healthcare sectors.

Specific areas that will be focused on during the conference include:

  • Healthcare facilitators
  • International airlines and travel agencies
  • Hospitality groups
  • Insurance and infrastructure companies
  • International healthcare and medical tourism consulting firms
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Investors, industry partners and media

To learn more or to 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.

Malaysia International Medical Tourism Fair

Malaysia International Medical Tourism Kuala Lumpur 2013

May 16-18, 2013 - Melaka BayView Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The Malaysia International Medial Tourism Fair is a leading global healthcare conglomeration spotlighting the medical tourism industry.

Industry professionals will come together to exchange knowledge and expertise on such topics as surgery, dental, weight loss, cancer treatment, cosmetic, orthopedic, fertility, eye surgery, wellness and spa, ambulance services, insurance, complete voice examination, voice restoration programs, full health checks, PET scans, CT scans and Vagal Nerve Stimulators.

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.

Africa Medical Executives & Medical Tourism Conference


August 28-30, 2013 - Ivory Coast, Africa

The Africa Medical Executives & Medical Tourism Conference will be comprised of up to 2,000 international delegates from over 90 different countries. Attendees will come together to dicuss general obstacles and systems that work within the medical tourism industry, as well as ways to facilitate more affordable healthcare solutions within their own communities.

The conference will also focus on important issues in relation to the African healthcare industry, specifically including, but not limited to, financial best practices, business opportunities, corporate governance, the latest techniques for cash management, performance measurement and strategies to help position companies for long-term, profitable growth in an uncertain economic environment.

To learn more or to 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.

4th Medical Tourism Saint Petersburg Exhibition


October 10-12, 2013 - Lenexpo Exhibition Complex, Saint Petersburg, Russia

This three-day exhibition will offer medical travel professionals the opportunity to gain valuable information pertaining to the latest developments, trends, services and products within various healthcare fields.

Particular areas of interest will include:

  • Medical centers
  • Plastic surgery clinics
  • Centers of aesthetic and regenerative medicine
  • Medical associations
  • Healthcare providers
  • Insurance companies
  • Specialized media

To learn more or to register click here .

Mexico: Global Summit on Medical Tourism Business


October 16-18, 2013 - Mexicali, Mexico

Taking place in Mexicali, Mexico, the Global Summit on the Medical Tourism Business will spotlight international companies specifically pertaining to medical tourism, health insurance, travel agencies and significant international brokerage opportunities.

This conference will offer attendees the opportunity to engage and interact with international, leading industry experts who wish to extend their expertise and share their visions regarding the future of medical tourism.

To learn more or to register click here.

2nd Malaysia International Healthcare Travel Expo 2013

2nd MIHTE Logo

October 20-22, 2013 - Sunway Pyramid Convention Center, Malaysia

The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) is the principal organization assigned by the Malaysian government to promote the medical tourism industry and provide all information regarding available medical treatment in Malaysia to the public.

This three-day international conference will provide healthcare travel industry leaders with the connections necessary to establish and maintain long-lasting partnerships with other professionals. Attendees will be granted the opportunity to showcase and launch their innovative products and services in order to help raise awareness and bring recognition to their brands.

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

$200 Million Medical Travel Facility Proposed for Bahamas
Caribbeannewsnow.com — Executives from the global healthcare venture American World Clinics (AWC) are in the Bahamas this week to discuss the establishment of the country's biggest medical tourism facility -- a $200 million-plus venture to create over 200 jobs post construction.

Growth of the Medical Tourism Industry
Payerfusion.com — The Medical Tourism industry is growing at an exponential rate.  Healthcare consumers are more invested in their care and are willing to travel in search of greater healthcare options, better quality and lower costs.

Medical Tourists Increasing Rapidly
Koreatimes.co.kr — The number of foreign tourists visiting here for medical purposes surpassed 150,000 in 2012, up 27.3 percent from a year earlier.

Rwanda to Boost Medical Tourism
M.news24.com — Rwanda is revamping its creaking health sector in the hopes of luring patients from across its borders to galvanize its tourism industry. 

Poland Targets Seven Countries for Medical Tourism
Imtj.com — The Polish Medical Tourism Consortium is an initiative of the Ministry of Economy backed by the private sector. It is targeting potential patients, insurance companies, government health departments, medical tourism providers, business organizations and trade associations, interested in sending patients from Russia, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the UK and the US to Poland.

Showcasing TN as Health Tourism Destination
Thehindu.com — Availability of quality and affordable healthcare services has put Tamil Nadu in third spot in drawing overseas patients to the country, next to Delhi and Mumbai.

Taiwan Targets Medical Tourism
Imtj.com — Taiwan is doing rather well at attracting health and medical tourists, with a constant supply of new ideas. In the eastern county of Hualien, traditionally known better for its coastal scenery than medical services, 67 local medical institutions and travel operators have got together to offer high-end medical packages aimed at Chinese tourists. And the local government has set up a Hualien county medical tourism association.

Malaysia Medical Tourism Sector Has Room to Grow
Theborneopost.com — Despite being second best to neighbours Singapore and Thailand, Malaysia is quickly becoming a popular destination for health travelers, boosting the country's image on the medical tourism front in Asia. Inside Investors noted in its report that medical tourism in Malaysia had emerged as one of the fastest growing segments over the last few years, despite the global economic downturn, with approximately 400,000 health tourists generating over RM380 million in revenue for 2010 alone.

Panama Seeks to Cash in on Medical Tourism Boom
Humanosphere.org — Positioned to capitalize on Panama's vision as a thriving “hub of the Americas" are the city's four major private hospitals, variously boasting the latest, first, largest and best in technologies, design, credentials and affiliations. The hospitals invested in these improvements, along with all manner of computer-assisted diagnostics, robotics and electronic medical records, with wealthy Panamanians and expats in mind. But to varying degrees, they've been upgrading with an eye toward medical tourists as well.

Hungarian Tourism Promotes Medical Tourism
Imtj.com — Hungarian Tourism Plc is now actively promoting medical tourism globally, but targeted mostly at Western Europe. Hungary is one of the flagship countries of European medical tourism. A quarter of all medical students at Hungarian universities come from abroad, and many Hungarian specialists teach and practice internationally. The main reasons for Hungary's leading role in European medical tourism are long experience and practice in the international market.

Boao Lecheng to be Built into a World-Class Medical Travel Destination
Whatsonsanya.com — The government of Hainan announced at the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference 2013 that a special plan for the Boao Lecheng International Medical Tourism Pilot Zone has been finalized.

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.