This week's issue is a good reminder of all factors affecting a consumer's choices for medical travel.
Even with all the research and medical advances made in the past decade, there’s still one word that strikes fear in the heart of men and women alike. That word is Cancer.
In this issue of Medical Travel Today, we’re pleased to present SPOTLIGHT interviews with two different leaders in cancer treatment.
In the first, we speak with Dr. Dan Sperling, a pioneer in MRI-guided transrectal laser ablation to treat prostate cancer. In addition to leading the charge to promote this highly effective and minimally invasive procedure, Dr. Sperling is also hoping to change the standard of care for prostate cancer.
In our second SPOTLIGHT, publisher Laura Carabello speaks with Stephen Bonner, p resident and chief executive officer, Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). Bonner assesses CTCA’s treatment efforts on the international market.
Amanda Haar, Editor
SPOTLIGHT: Dan Sperling, MD, DABR, President and CEO of Sperling Laser Associates
Editor’s Note: Dr. Dan Sperling is the president and CEO of Sperling Laser Associates (www.sperlinglaserassociates.com), Medical Director at the New Jersey Institute of Radiology, in Carlstadt, N.J., and a pioneer in MRI-guided transrectal laser ablation, a minimally invasive procedure to treat prostate cancer with virtually no risk of incontinence or impotence.
Medical Travel Today (MTT):Let’s start with the procedure for transrectal laser ablation. What exactly is it?
Dan Sperling (DS): Simply put, transrectal laser ablation allows us to precisely target and kill tumors and cancerous cells in and around the prostate without harming any healthy tissue or organs. The laser we use was initially developed for brain tumors. Obviously, in any type of brain procedure, precision is a key to success, as all tissue is vital.
By applying that same type of precision to the prostate procedure, we are better able to target cancers that we detect on an MRI and to do it without needlessly harming good tissue or other organs, like the bladder or rectum.
The other appeal for patients is that there’s no needle involved in the initial assessment.
When a patient is typically referred to us by their urologist, we first do an MRI that we analyze using three different methods. These three indices will show the presence of prostate cancer with a high degree of certainty. In fact, our detection rate runs at 95-plus percent.
Again, there’s no needle involved at this stage, so it’s obviously much more comfortable and less stressful for the patient.
What’s great about the procedure is that in the past, if you were determined to have a higher grade of cancer you, went for either radiation or a radical prostatectomy. But if you were low-grade, you still only had the same options. There was no sort of middle-ground treatment even if you were low-grade. And, consequently, you suffered with the same potential side effects including impotence and incontinence.
Ablation, however, provides a different, much more attractive option for the lower grade cases. Once we’ve identified cancer on the MRI, we insert a small tube into the rectum -- without anesthesia mind you -- and then insert the laser probe. Using the previous imaging, we can with pinpoint accuracy begin to kill the cancer cells.
MTT:And how about side effects compared to traditional approaches?
DS: Yes, side effects and potential subsequent outcomes are greatly altered for the better.
Unlike traditional radiation that reached not just the affected tissues, but often healthy tissue and nearby organs thereby increasing the risk of bladder or rectum or other cancers later, the laser doesn’t do that. In fact, there are built-in safety zones around critical structures. If the temperature of the laser gets too high, the machine automatically shuts off so it won’t harm other structures, like the urethra for example. The impact of the laser is very, very isolated. We can literally destroy tumors near the bladder or rectum without any concern of harming healthy tissue. There’s virtually no risk of incontinence or impotence using this procedure. In fact, in the more than 100 patients I’ve treated, not a single one has suffered from either incontinence or impotence post-procedure.
Plus, MRI lets us follow patients at set intervals and pick up any recurrence much quicker than any other technology.
MTT: I would imagine the reduced side effects and precision could really change the way patients view prostate cancer treatments.
DS: I’m hoping the change of thinking will extend beyond patients.
One of the things I’m trying to do along with others is change the paradigm of prostate cancer treatment. I believe it should not be seen as an acute disease that needs to be treated immediately and radically with a false sense of curing — prostate cancer can and does recur. Instead, prostate cancer should be seen as chronic disease state that you treat conservatively and monitor and follow just as you would any other chronic disease, such as diabetes.
MTT:Of the 100-plus procedures you’ve performed, how have the results differed from more traditional approaches?
DS: As I noted, in all the procedures I’ve done, I’ve not had a single incident of incontinence or impotence. That’s a significant difference. Plus, patients leave in a very comfortable state. They can go home without any restrictions and return to work — or the golf course — the next day.
MTT:How long have you been practicing it and where did you get your training?
DS: I am a board-certified radiologist and did two fellowships in nuclear radiography and another in cardiothoracic and body imaging. I’ve been following this technology from its earliest applications and have performed the most interventional procedures in the United States to this point.
I trained with Dr. Jurgen Fütterer, of UMC St. Radboud Nijmegen in Holland, one of the top MRI professionals in the world.
MTT:Where else is this procedure offered?
DS: I’m the only one in the United States offering this particular method. However, I am actively setting up multiple sites to make it more widely available in the United States. The plan is for me to travel to those sites to both perform the procedure and train others.
I’m currently partnering with many existing imaging facilities as well as looking to build a dedicated facility.
Having multiple sites will make it easier for more people in the United States to have the procedure.
We’re also looking to attract an international patient base. Right now, I’ve done more of these procedures than anyone else in the world.
A strategic and targeted public relations campaign is underway to enhance awareness among industry professionals, consumers and other thought-leaders. The goal is to educate and inform prospective patients who can benefit from this approach and drive relationships with physicians and other referrers throughout the world.
While this is a relatively new approach, it is generating confidence among physicians and patients, alike. I am looking forward to developing relationships throughout the world and bringing this treatment to more men.
The media “buzz” in the United States is just beginning, and I look forward to delivering this message more widely over time. Patients are now traveling to access this specialized care, and I anticipate that additional media coverage will drive interest. There’s no reason why men should face prostate disease with fear and dread of impotence or incontinence. I intend to get this positive news out to the media and bring a new sense of hope and confidence to men throughout the world.
Patient education is important. There are many support groups for different types of cancers, most notably breast cancer, but there’s not much for prostate cancer. I’m working to fix that by setting up groups. The newly diagnosed really are eager for information and there are so many stories to tell. Men tend to be less vocal, but I’m working at becoming an advocate to help all men become better-educated about prostate cancer; to understand that it’s not a death sentence; and to understand their options for treatment. There’s nothing I like better than explaining the benefits of laser ablation to a worried patient. I think if more men knew about this option, you’d have more men getting checked out. That’s the ultimate victory in my book.
About Dr. Dan Sperling
Dan Sperling, MD, D.A.B.R., is President and CEO of Sperling Laser Associates and the Medical Director at the New Jersey Institute of Radiology, in Carlstadt, N.J. Certified by the American Board of Radiology and licensed in New York and New Jersey, Dr. Sperling completed a fellowship in Cardiothoracic/Body Imaging with Interventions at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in N.Y. and a second fellowship in Nuclear Radiology at Northshore University Hospital. He is a pioneer in MRI-guided transrectal laser ablation, a minimally invasive procedure to treat prostate tumors with virtually no risk of incontinence or impotence. Visit http://www.SperlingLaserAssociates.com, follow http://www.twitter.com/DrDanSperling, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll free 1-855-5-PROSTATE.
SPOTLIGHT: Stephen B. Bonner, Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA)
Editor’s Note: Readers in the United States are no doubt familiar with the Cancer
Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) thanks to their successful advertising campaigns. But their reach goes well beyond the shores of the United States. In fact, in 2010, CTCA received more than 10,000 international inquiries.
Medical Travel Today’s publisher, Laura Carabello, recently spoke to Stephen Bonner, president and CEO at CTCA, about what draws patients — and more recently, employers — to this outstanding Center of Excellence.
An excerpt of their conversation follows below.
MTT: Give our readers a little bit of a background about you and how you got started at CTCA.
Steve Bonner (SB): I am the president and CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America and have served in this role since July 1, 1999.So, I’m coming up on 12 years. I’m a lawyer who really grew up in financial services and worked for several companies — starting businesses, introducing new lines and doing some turnarounds. Along the way, I was introduced to Richard Stephenson, the founder of CTCA, and, after two years as a CTCA Board member, I stepped into the CEO role.
I came here because I think it’s a really unique offering in healthcare, and oncology in particular. When Dick created this company in 1988, he was at least a couple of decades ahead of the market in his vision, and I thought the market was moving toward the CTCA vision of patient empowerment, and a holistic and integrated style of care.
Dick Stephenson was motivated by a personal experience: His mother had cancer. Stephenson is a globalist and an international merchant banker who was able to find an array of promising therapies that could have helped his mother, but could not get the healthcare bureaucracy to try or even listen.
Sadly, his mother died and, in his opinion, hers was an unhappy and untimely death. He believed that no one’s mother should be subjected to that, so he created CTCA. By the time I came, the organization was about 10-11-years-old; it had grown to a certain level, but was not growing much.
I was attracted to how unique the company was, the value I thought it offered to patients and how it might help change some of the unhappy parts of the American healthcare system. I also spoke with patients who had come to CTCA and, when I looked them in the eye and they said if it wasn’t for CTCA they wouldn’t be here … I felt compelled to join them. Specifically, to offer life-saving hope and healing options to patients who say they can’t find elsewhere -- and then to add more talent and technology to improve continuously.
And that’s a pretty unique opportunity to have in this business.
MTT: I would say that could drive anybody to do business.
SB: We just boasted about this at our quarterly meeting with the Center for Health Transformation, the organization Newt Gingrich founded. CHT membership met at our CTCA hospital in Phoenix.
We always start important meetings with a patient of ours telling his or her story. The woman who talked to the group yesterday said before coming to CTCA she had been told she had six months to live, was undergoing horrible chemotherapy and was not effectively managed or communicated with. She came to us in January 2010, expecting to die within the next five months.
Yesterday, 14-months later, she stood up and told us she is actually cancer-free.
We seek to do good business. We can create a lot of great products, jobs and economic value, but to be in the business of saving lives and now innovating healthcare is a great place to be. As you say, it could drive anybody to do business!
MTT: I would say so. Congratulations! Let’s talk about the medical travel industry, how you see the industry growing and what part CTCA would play.
SB: I think we’re significantly into that market today if we define medical travel as healthcare consumers who have to leave communities to find services they value.
Today, while we don’t see that much international travel at CTCA, our average patient travels 514 miles one way to come to us for care.
MTT: Five-hundred-and-fourteen miles?
SB: Yes! Obviously, they are all driving by their own community oncology offerings. Many of them bypass Mayo, MD Anderson and Sloan Kettering to get to us.
Individuals stay with us for extended periods of time. In order to serve them, we don’t simply offer cancer treatment facilities. We have guest quarters that we built as a part of our centers and we have relationships with local hotels and “Bed and Breakfast” places that provide access and knowledgeable support about hosting cancer patients.
We also have cars, limos, shuttles and drivers that move patients, pick them up at the airport, bring them to the hospital, take them back again and also make dining, recreation and shopping available while they are with us. So in the travel business, I know we’re very active. We see quite a few patients from Alaska and Hawaii and the Caribbean islands, for example.
Internationally, we host a fair amount of information-seekers on our Web site, but we have still only seen just a trickle of patients.
MTT: Have you gone after them? Have you marketed to the international community?
SB: No, we haven’t, other than on the web, of course. That is a growing interest for us, especially since we are seeing so many of them on our website.
We have just done a fresh analysis of international medical tourism. I think we’ve done a good job of sizing the market of both inbound and outbound patients, although the research we did reflects some wild disparity among the experts in terms of how big this market is.
MTT: Who did your research?
SB: We assembled research from DeLoitte and McKinsey, and also from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and from the Office of Economic Cooperation and Development (ECD). Just looking at the estimated annual inbound medical tourists to the United States, the research pointed to a range under 100,000-400,000 annually. The outbound ranged from almost nothing, according to McKinsey, up to almost 1.5 million, according to ECD.
MTT: There’s a lot of discussion in the industry about those numbers and what is real. One of the questions is how is medical travel reported? Does CTCA record the patients coming from another state or another region of the U.S., and do you really track that number?
SB: Yes, we sure do.
Part of our founder’s vision for making sure we were patient-centric was to not let government bureaucracy, hospitals or doctors get in the way of innovation. That is what we’re built upon — almost a pure direct to consumer model. We think of ourselves as the most active advertiser in the non-pharma sector of healthcare, and certainly in the hospital sector.
As a result, if you have studied us, you’d see us behaving very much like a traditional direct marketer. We advertise, we track media and our messages and match that to our response from initial inquiry to arrival of a patient.
We obviously then track them geographically because we want to match our advertising activities to media placement to geography. We want to know what is working and what isn’t.
MTT: Good for you. How many patients do you treat annually, and would you say that you’re a court-of-last-resort for these patients or is it the first choice?
SB: We’re hosting about 4,300 new patients each year and that’s been growing about 20 percent annually for the last several years. We’re probably seeing around 12,000–14,000 patients annually, which would be the new patients plus those returning. We hope we are the court-of-last-resort and that none of our patients need to seek another court of higher jurisdiction. Our average patient is diagnosed somewhere else, they’re treated on average two other places and then come to us. We hope they find lots of reasons to stay in our care.
So, they are very savvy, experienced and generally unhappy with the care they’ve received by the time they arrive. We also tend to see later-stage and complex cancer patients largely because of the way the market works. So to stay with your analogy, in about 1/3 of our patients, we are the first court; for 2/3 we take appeals from other providers.
MTT: Can you describe the typical process a patient goes through to choose a cancer hospital?
SB: A patient begins with a terrifying cancer diagnosis from a trusted family physician, who says, “Go to Dr. Smith, she’s my oncologist.” The patient has a pretty strong instinct to keep these relationships intact and do what their doctor tells them.
Off they go, and they don’t even think about CTCA or other alternatives, and they get treated by Dr. Smith. If treatment works, that’s fine and they are all happy and they go about their lives. CTCA does not enter the picture.
Typically, it’s when treatment doesn’t work that they start looking around for options. I should note that even this time-honored process is changing. Today, even the first referral is considered more carefully by the patient. When they come back to their diagnosing physician for a second visit, the patient knows more about the disease than the referring physician.
Patients and their families are on the web, in their networks and they’re looking, and we see them on the web site we host. There are more than 8 million unique visitors each year on our web site.
MTT: Is the web becoming even more important in this process of finding the right care?
SB: Without any doubt. The quest for information — national and international — is certainly exploding in oncology.
Our data says that around 10,000 international inquirers visited our web site in 2010. We have people staffing our inbound phones 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, including oncology information specialists who can talk with patients and chat with them over the web. This allows the patient to discover information without coming here. They learn what we offer, and what it might add or not add to the care that they have received.
They then decide to come. But because of the prevailing relationship-driven, community referral-based model in healthcare, we don’t usually see patients early in their disease. Generally, when care is not going well and they are losing hope, they look to the horizon for hopeful options. That’s what we restore … hope.
Often times, hope has been taken away; like the woman I mentioned in Phoenix who thought she had no alternative but to prepare to die. She was writing notes for her children to open on their birthdays, when they got their drivers’ licenses and so on. She came to us and we offered legitimate and hopeful options that are working.
MTT: Do people talk to you on SKYPE on the international level?
SB: Not to my knowledge, but we do have growing video confession tools. And we are becoming more active in social networking.
MTT: When you market directly to consumers, does that encompass employers?
SB: It does. Increasingly it does.
MTT: In what way? Tell me something about your relationship with employers.
SB: We have a team whose sole responsibility is to get out and talk to employers who are looking to buy healthcare intelligently in this burgeoning environment of wellness investment.
In this health transformation, we know more and more major employers are buying healthcare directly, and we are participating.
We have people that are out presenting CTCA to employers, and we do have direct contracts with employers.
MTT: What we hear from the marketplace is that employers and payers are looking for quality benchmarks, and that’s what may be missing from some of these international hospitals – they are not willing or able to report outcomes. Are you able to report outcomes?
SB: You’re touching on one of our favorite subjects.
Patient access to comparable, reliable results is a huge deficiency in healthcare today, and that information will be a cornerstone for a high quality, a low cost healthcare system. As we move toward a more patient-empowered system, all of the sudden we will see a more disciplined healthcare market, the way it is in every other consumer-driven market.
But, to get there, we’ve got to provide the consumer reliable, accessible, easy-to-understand information to compare among the different services that are available. We feel compelled to do this.
We have been tracking our length-of-life outcomes and publishing this data on our web site for a couple of years. We believe we were the first in oncology to do so. We also study quality-of-life, and publish that data on our web site. Finally, we study patient experience, using survey instruments that allow us to watch on a daily basis what is working and what isn’t, and to be able to fix things that aren’t working to perfection.
MTT: What tool do you utilize?
SB: Bain & Company developed a “Net Promoter Score technology,” and it’s the most rigorous measurement of patient loyalty we can find.
It’s an 11-box score platform. The top scores indicate that consumers feel so strongly about the experience that they want to go out and actively promote the service to others they know..
The top two boxes are promoters, the bottom six are detractors and the others are neutrals. We run the survey, total the top two boxes and subtract the bottom six boxes. That gives us a “net promoter score.”
About three years ago, Bain wrote a book that said the CTCA consistently produces the highest net promoter scores of any company they have found in any industry that they have studied. And we publish that data on our web site, as well.
MTT: Are you working with other industry providers to promote this type of activity?
SB: Yes. We’re putting together a coalition led by a trusted consumer research organization and supported by oncology providers like us to conduct consumer quality research.
The goal is to define what quality means to the consumer, and we envision a component on the patient, their family members and their employers to really understand how they define quality.
We’re assuming that length-of life, quality of life and the patient experience are reasonable proxies for this measurement, but we’re trying to move the industry to let the consumer teach us what quality means to them --and give them reliable metrics to select the best provider … for them.
MTT: Are you familiar with the LeapFrog Group? Its CEO Leah Binder told us a few months ago that they were going to be coming out with international ratings for hospitals. How would you think you’d stack up against Albert Einstein in Brazil or Bumrungrad?
SB: We’re very active participants in the LeapFrog Group. It will be interesting to see.
Leah Binder also says that they promise to come out with oncology-based measurements rather than lumping all of the hospitals together. We know Leah very well, we have great admiration for each other and we cooperate well together.
We want to help LeapFrog get there because, right now, measuring oncology quality against quality in GYN or general surgery is not very meaningful to patients, employers or insurers that are looking at us.
MTT: What about pricing? Can you compete for the medical traveler?
SB: Yes. After reliable quality information, price is the next critical piece of the equation.
An empowered consumer needs pricing information, and that’s virtually impossible to get. We’re as weak as anyone in dealing with this issue today.
But we’ve taken on that challenge, and we’re close to coming to market with a guaranteed array of comprehensive services and a guaranteed price for the evaluation phase of care. In the next two years, we’ve committed to the delivery of guaranteed prices for the treatment phase, as well.
Once the consumer has that kind of information, they can do what they do in high quality industries: shop for price and value.
They can look not only nationally, but also internationally; and make a much more informed judgment about where the quality is, where the value is, and where the price/quality combinations lie. They will start to buy accordingly, like they already do under Health Savings Accounts and in self-pay segments, such as Lasik surgery.
MTT: Would you say that you provide treatment or procedures that can’t be found anywhere else?
SB: I would say that we offer a combination of therapies that can’t be found anywhere on the highly integrated, under-one-roof model that we offer.
As you can imagine, if you’re in oncology and your dominant customer has complex cancer, then you’ve got to have the most sophisticated traditional therapies including radiation, chemotherapy and surgery. We have that.
We need to offer those traditional therapies that treat the tumors. Since the core of the problem resides in the immune system, we must support the immune system … to re-engage it to battle the cancer.
But there is also the double-whammy that traditional therapies also tend to assault and further debilitate the immune system. So, we surround those traditional therapies with what we believe to be the most intense nutritional support that can exist in any cancer facility. We add to that naturopathic support, the mind body connection, spiritual support, exercise, pain management, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, humor therapy, laughter therapy, pet therapy … and on and on. We see architecture and environment as part of the healing process. So our centers feel and look more like hotels or spas than hospitals.
MTT: You have chiropractors?
SB: We sure do. We have full-time chiropractors on staff in our hospitals, and we have wonderful relationships with the chiropractic community that we continue to invest in. Chiropractors are a wonderful group of healers and are greatly valued by our patients, their family members and our stakeholders.
MTT: Now, I have a $64,000 dollar question for you: Are you building outside of the United States?
SB: And the $64,000 dollar answer is: not yet.
MTT: Are you partnering with anybody outside the United States?
SB: Yes. We partner with researchers and innovators in other countries, but not as robustly as we’d like.
MTT: Is that something that you would find intriguing?
SB: Yes, we absolutely would.
Our founder has extensive experience offshore and is very comfortable doing business outside their.
A few years ago, we looked at the healthcare city Dubai is building. We were intrigued by the possibility of being their specialty cancer provider, but decided we didn’t know that market well enough and we still had a lot to do to build our footprint in the United States.
So we passed. In the United States, we are now four hospitals; at the time we looked at Dubai we were three hospitals. And we just made another commitment to break ground for the fifth in Atlanta, where we expect to open next year. We’re looking at other expansion opportunities in the United States.
We’ve just done a fresh analysis on the international market, both inbound and outbound, and we’re curious.
MTT: So if Dubai is not the right location, are there any other areas closer to home that would be more appealing? Everyone is talking about the Caribbean, Central America and Brazil.
SM: We’ve actually seen a trickle of patients from the Caribbean, but not significant. Certainly, the proximity to the United States and our familiarity with some of those islands will draw our attention.
MTT: So inbound medical travel from that region is also of interest?
Basically, many patients come thru Miami, where many of them stay.
MTT: During an interview with the CEO of Jackson Memorial International, he reported that they attract 2,500 patients a year internationally — mostly from the Caribbean.
SB: Through Atlanta?
MTT: No, into Miami. There’s also interest among Europeans for traveling here.
SB: We are intrigued by oncology innovation in Europe and by the interest Europeans have shown in the United States for quality care.
It’s likely that we would deepen our market analysis before making any plans. We have a pretty reasonable and effective array of strategic filters that we apply as we look at major decisions.
MTT: Would an offshore hospital allow you to perform procedures and treatments that are not yet FDA-approved — HIFU? Stem cell? Drugs? People are traveling to access care not available in the United States.
SB: Theoretically, we sure could, and our instinct is also to break down the barriers to providing those types of therapies to patients in the USA.
We helped pioneer the creation of the FDA “compassionate use” exception. If you’re not familiar with this, it gives caregiver the ability to go to the FDA with a promising therapy and get a one-time exception on an accelerated basis to help a patient who has no other options. Our government needs our help to enhance quality and speed of care, and to keep healthcare in the United States at the forefront internationally.
MTT: Tell us more.
SB: The FDA needs to keep up with rapid innovations in healthcare.
At the Center for Health Transformation meeting, we discussed how slow the FDA bureaucracy can be, and how its structure doesn’t consider therapies that are being developed in the world of technology and economics. I don’t mean to approve new therapies. They aren’t even sure who to contact to review innovations with the FDA.
MTT: Can you share information about your revenues?
SB: We’re privately held, and still owned entirely by our founder and his family. We don’t publish our financials.
I can assure our key audiences that we are growing, financially sound and confident that as long as we provide great care and a wonderful experience, markets will reward us appropriately.
About Stephen T. Bonner
Steve Bonner joined CTCA in 1999 as president and chief executive officer, and has refined the company’s patient-centered model of cancer care and expanded delivery into Illinois, Oklahoma, Washington, Pennsylvania and Arizona. Georgia has also approved CTCA for construction of a regional center, which will open in the fall of 2012.
Prior to joining CTCA, Bonner served as executive vice president of Keyport Life Insurance Company, where he led the development of a new annuity market. He has also served as president, Construction Information Group of The McGraw-Hill Companies, and was vice president, Individual Insurance Services of the Prudential Insurance Company of America, Newark, N.J., where he created Prudential’s consumer banking operation.
Bonner is the former president, National Liberty Corporation Valley Forge, Pa.; executive vice president and general counsel of Capital Holding Corporation; and served in various legal functions at The Prudential.
His experience as a director includes the following boards: Cancer Treatment Centers of America; Eastern Regional Medical Center; Western Regional Medical Center; The National Foundation of Women Legislators; Laurentian Capital Corporation (AMEX); The American Architectural Foundation; The Tennis Opportunity Program; William Mitchell College of Law; and as chairman of both Prudential Bank and Trust, and the Prudential Savings Bank.
Bonner earned a B.A.in political science from Amherst College and a J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law.
He and his wife, Lisa, live in Chicago with their children, Mark and Alexis, and he also enjoys his other children, Ted, Ann and Leslie as well as five grandchildren.
About Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) is a national network of hospitals providing a comprehensive, fully integrated approach to cancer treatment. CTCA serves patients with complex cancer from all 50 states at facilities located in suburban Chicago, Philadelphia, Tulsa and suburban Phoenix. Known for delivering the Mother Standard® of care and Patient Empowerment Medicine®, CTCA provides patients with information about cancer and their treatment options so they can control their treatment decisions. For more information about CTCA, go to www.cancercenter.com .
Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida Signs Bundled Surgical Services Agreement with Mobile Surgery International
Jacksonville and Aventura, FL — In its continuing effort to bring affordable and quality healthcare solutions to members, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF) has agreed to initiate an innovative pilot program with Mobile Surgery International (MSI) to deliver transparently priced, bundled, minimally invasive, laparoscopic radical prostatectomy surgery service packages to BCBSF members. Initially, these packages will be available in South Florida until expansion is developed.
The bundled service arrangement will include quality-focused, patient-centric, “no wait” support, education and service; appropriate supplies; and everything necessary for conduct of radical prostatectomy and related procedures including surgeon, surgeon’s assistant, operative technical team, anesthesia, pathology, nursing care, operating room, recovery room, medications, and room and board. The arrangement will bring value and administrative simplification for BCBSF and its members.
“BCBSF is constantly seeking opportunities to offer innovative, high-quality, high-value services to its members,” said Jonathan Gavras, M.D., senior vice president and chief medical officer for BCBSF. “This agreement with MSI provides BCBSF with a unique opportunity to pilot a 21st century business model that offers high-quality and convenient patient care for a common type of surgery within a value-generating bundled payment agreement.”
Radical prostatectomy, the standard treatment for localized prostate cancer, surgically removes the prostate gland and seminal vesicles. Minimally invasive, laparoscopic radical prostatectomy is performed through tiny punctures in the abdomen. First carried out on a regular clinical basis in the United States by Arnon Krongrad, M.D., the chief executive officer of MSI, the procedure involves tiny punctures in the abdomen. The procedure is considered less painful without reduced intraoperative bleeding and recovery times than traditional open radical prostatectomy.
“Development of this agreement has allowed us to work closely with BCBSF to address some of the challenges that even Florida’s largest payer faces in offering treatment choice, clinical quality and value,” said Krongrad. “BCBSF’s ‘can-do’ attitude and innovative spirit has allowed us to initiate a partnership based on a first set of bundled surgical services as we continue to innovate and learn from each other. Over time, MSI hopes to work closely with BCBSF to develop an expanded set of services that will increasingly optimize choice, ensure quality and manage cost for BCBSF and its members.”
The Future of American Medicine May be Offshore
By Manoj Jain
Washington Post — When my father had a toothache, he saw a dentist in Boston who recommended a root canal and dental crown costing about $2,000. He decided to wait until he was in India, his native land, for holidays and had the procedure done there for $200. Extremely satisfied with the service and price, my mother had her two front teeth replaced, thereby eliminating a wide gap that tarnished her smile while saving her about $3,000.
Health Tourism Continuing Education and Professional Development
healthCare cybernetics, through its Health Tourism Enterprise Practice “Education Unit” has announced the launching and administration of the Health Tourism Continuing Education and Professional Development Scheme (CEPD).
Health Tourism CEPD Accreditation is provided to “Providers” for specific activities (see below, Health Tourism CEPD Providers and CEPD Activities Categories).
The Health Tourism CEPD Office (a virtual office) provides administrative support to the Accreditation Committee (see below).
Currently, the following comprise the CEPD Accreditation Committee:
Logging and Processing of the Continuing Education Points is undertaken by the Health Tourism CEPD Office – in collaboration with the Accredited Health Tourism CEPD Providers.
healthCare cybernetics decided to undertake the task of developing and administering the Health Tourism Continuing Education and Professional Development Scheme because of its:
Academic and Professional background and interests
Health Tourism Pedigree and Credentials
Health Tourism CEPD Accreditation Providers are “Entities” which have applied for and been granted Health Tourism CEPD Accreditation.
These can be:
CEPD Activities fall under 3 Categories / Levels:
The cost of Health Tourism CEPD Accreditation for an Activity is determined according to a schedule related to the type and duration of the specific activity.
Pricing Details are provided at the Health Tourism education Site.
All Proceeds from CEPD Accreditations will be lodged with the Health Tourism Research Institute Fund – and be used towards funding Research.
For all Enquiries call +30 6945857642 or send eMail: email@example.com
WellTek, Inc. Acquires Stem Cells for Hope, Inc.
Expands Into Estimated $20.6 Billion Global Stem Cell Therapeutics Market
ORLANDO, FL--(Marketwire - April 12, 2011) - WellTek, Inc. (OTCBB: WTKN ), a global health, fitness and wellness company, today announced the acquisition of Stem Cells for Hope, Inc. (SCFH), a leading provider of stem cell transplantation therapy technologies for patients worldwide. The acquisition is uniquely slated to further develop and expand WellTek's existing health and wellness offerings to serve patients with neuro-degenerative diseases and otherwise incurable physiological injuries. The shareholders of SCFH received 15 million shares of WellTek restricted common stock in consideration for 100% of the stock of SCFH.
The acquisition will allow SCFH to build on its international network of hospitals and clinics that specialize in stem cell transplantation therapies, as well as associated developments in stem cell biological products and protocols. It will also provide an expansive avenue of complete concierge-like medical services, of which WellTek and SCFH will manage all logistics such as travel, lodging, transportation and VIP customs passage during the treatment period to assure a relaxing and stress-free experience for patients.
This acquisition facilitates WellTek's entry into the $100 billion medical tourism market where patients travel across international borders to access health care or medical attention.
"WellTek has been working with doctors and hospitals around the world through sales of our MedX equipment line for many years," explained Randy Lubinsky, CEO of WellTek, Inc. "Because of this, we are confident that the company can leverage those relationships to expand SCFH and other strategic acquisitions in the medical tourism space."
Global Stem Cell Market on the Rise
The U.S. is the most notable stem cell market in the world. The market has recently increased following the lifting of the 8-year-old ban on Federal funding for embryonic stem cell research in March 2009. Europe is the next largest and fastest-growing market, with Canada, Asia and the United Kingdom following suit.
Stem Cell Therapeutics: A New, But Not So New Treatment
WellTek and SCFH's therapies include stem cell transplants that contain a patient's own adult stem cells, harvested cord blood stem cells, and a proprietary stem cell biological solution. These transplants are ideal for people suffering with neuro-degenerative diseases and physiological injuries. A sample of medical conditions currently being treated at associated hospitals and clinics (and their general statistics), as well as
WellTek's target vertical markets include the following:
Furthermore, the National Library of Medicine reports that 5 million patients have already been treated using stem cell therapy globally.
"We are excited to be joining the WellTek team and look forward to expanding SCFH through organic growth and potential strategic acquisitions," stated Mr. Kravchenko.
Treatments and therapies are currently available through the companies' associate facilities in Mexico and the Ukraine. To learn more about the acquisition or stem cell technologies and treatment offerings, please visit www.stemcellsforhope.com .
About WellTek Incorporated
Medical Tourism: Economic Impact of Hospitals in Southeast Missouri
Melissa Miller, Southeast Missourian — You don't have to be an economist to realize the impact of hospitals in Cape Girardeau. With more than 4,700 employees combined, SoutheastHEALTH and Saint Francis Medical Center are the Cape Girardeau County's two largest employers.
Beyond their direct spending on payroll and supplies, hospitals and other medical care providers in Cape Girardeau are attracting "medical tourists."
The Missouri Hospital Association's study looked at the effect of "medical tourism" on Southeast Missouri.
To read more click here .
Marketresearch.com — Turkey has emerged as a popular destination in Europe for medical tourism. The country’s medical tourism industry has unprecedentedly grown during the past few years.
The Turkish medical tourism industry’s revenue is expected to double in the coming years due to its vast potential as both a destination and source market. T Medical tourists are expected to increase at a CAGR of around 26 percent during 2010-2014, on account of rising popularity of cost-effective services and government support, which has been financing promotional activities to boost the nation’s medical tourism industry.
With very low cost of treatments and hospitals equipped with technology similar to international standards, the number of medical tourists will rise in the coming years. To support this evidence, we have done an extensive analysis of various segments of the Turkish medical tourism market.
India Emerges as Hot Destination for Kenyan Patients
Business Wire India — The number of patients travelling from Kenya to India is expected to more than double to 50,000 during the current year because of the reduced cost of treatment.
TourNCare Improves Facebook Accessibility
PR.com — The medical tourism social networking site, www.TourNCare.com, announced that new users can login using Facebook.\
TourNCare is hopeful that this feature will make it easier medical tourists, facilitators and hospitals to share stories..
European Medical Travel Conference 2011 Set for April 27th to 29th in Barcelona
Encouraged by partners and sponsors, EMTC will once again bring together prominent speakers, important stakeholders, trendsetting thinkers and successful market players for its 2011 conference in Barcelona, Spain. Offering improved networking opportunities, this is a chance to see what the Spanish market has to offer for travelling patients. All healthcare providers in Spain are encouraged to participate. It will be a milestone event for the Mediterranean Medical Travel.
Destination Health Set to Return to London Olympia April 15-16, 2011
As Europe's largest buyers of medical tourism services, demand from U.K. patients who are planning to travel abroad for treatment is growing every year. The show is expected to attract thousands of people from all walks of life who are actively planning to travel abroad for treatment. In addition, visitors will also include health and medical professionals who are looking to establish business partnerships with health care providers from around the world.
Patients visiting Destination Health are interested in the following treatments:
Exhibiting at Destination Health provides you with direct access to thousands of potential patients who are looking to travel abroad for various types of medical treatments - allowing you to promote your services to people who are eager and willing to spend money on their needs.
Complete the online Exhibitor Enquiry Form or contact:
Nav Mann Event Director , Destination Health
Tel: + 44 (0)208 230 0066 Fax: + 44 (0)208 230 0067
Costa Rica to Host Latin American Medical Tourism Congress, May 2-4
90 Percent of Exhibition Space Reserved * New Speakers List Confirmed
Less than two months before the start of the Medical Travel International Business Summit, 90 percent of all available exhibit space has been reserved.
The congress, May 2-4 in Jan Jose and Guanacaste, will include lectures about promotion, market opportunities, safety, quality and service certification. by companies and experts from the United States, Canada, Thailand, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Latin American doctors, clinics, hospitals and hotels will have an opportunity to develop new business relationships with foreign buyers looking for quality and better prices.
Sponsored by the Council for the International Promotion of Costa Rica Medicine(PROMED) , Costa Rica Tourism Board, Costa Rican Foreign Trade Promoter (PROCOMER) and organizations in the medical and tourism sectors, the congress offers Latin American doctors, clinics, hospitals and hotels an opportunity to develop new business relationships with foreign buyers looking for quality and better prices.
“We are really satisfied with the results achieved so far,” said Dr. Jorges Cortes, PROMED president. “The response from national and regional business people has been excellent. As well, we are very pleased to confirm the presence of most of the countries in the area, since we are convinced that the great potential of medical tourism creates opportunities for many participants.”
Business alliances and roundtables
Date: May 2 - 4, 2011.
To increase the number of buyers this congress, established several international alliances with facilitating companies including Companion Global Healthcare, Global Medical Connections, Costa Rican Medical Care, Health Choices International and International Healthcare Access. Thanks to these companies, we already have 50 confirmed buyers including insurance companies, self-insured companies, benefit consultants and more.
Business roundtables will be held May 2-3 at the Ramada Plaza Herradura Hotel Convention Center, in San Jose. In partnership with PROCOMER, representatives from 75 Latin American companies will have exclusive space to generate business and alliances with medical-travel-buying companies.
The congress will be held, May 4, at the Hilton Papagayo Hotel, in Guanacaste, where attendants will participate in training workshops, experience natural attractions and learn about medical tourism projects in the North Pacific area of Costa Rica.
“Legal Forum: Medical Tourism-Related Risk Management,” Steve Weiner, Mintz Levin, Boston.
“How to Sell to Corporate Buyers, “Laura Carabello, director, CPR Strategic Marketing Communications, New Jersey.
“New Market Niches for Medical Tourism,” Dr. Jeff Dugas, International Sports Surgeons.
“Globalization and Health,” Costa Rican Coalition for Development Initiatives, CINDE.
MEDCON- International Medical Conference & Exhibition, Oman
This exhibition, aims to contribute in meeting the growing requirements of clinics and hospitals as well as the public demand for effective health products and services. We are confident that MEDCON 2011 will serve as an effective venue for promoting products, equipment and services that play an important role in ensuring and maintaining good health. Al Nimr Expo — is the leading organizer of trade and consumer shows in the Sultanate of Oman and MEDCON is in its first edition is taking place on May 10-12, 2011 in the Oman International Exhibition centre, showcasing the four major sectors:
1) Medical Tourism and Treatment Abroad
2) Hospital Equipment and Technology
3) Hospital Infrastructure and Planning
4) Health Zone & Wellness
Special offers and discounts available to international exhibitors.
For stand reservations or for more information on how your Association and members can take part in the event, please contact Ms Ulrika Varela, Project Manager, Al Nimr Expo on mobile no. +968-94049090, Tel no. +928- 24790369, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.alnimrexpo.com /medcon
MediTour Expo Announces its May 2011 World Medical Tourism Conference: Pioneering the Future in Global Healthcare
Leading medical tourism professionals will come together to strategically discuss how to further develop global healthcare and increase patient numbers.
MediTour Expo's two-day medical tourism conference held May 23-24, 2011 at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada will feature specialized topics on the globalization of healthcare. Leading industry and legal professionals from the medical and wellness travel industries will come together to present and discuss new medical tourism marketing strategies, the latest trends in wellness and spa tourism, facility development, insurance coverage, hospital quality control and certification, follow up care, legal issues, retirement abroad, business opportunities for travel and tour operators, e-health and telemedicine. The conference will include presentations by some of healthcare tourism's most influential leaders. Expecting to draw delegates from all around the world, this event is a must for people looking to increase their contacts in the international healthcare industry.
In addition to presentations, the conference will offer exhibit halls, discussion panels, and workshops. There will be numerous networking opportunities throughout the event.
According to Ian Jacobs, CEO of MediTour Expo, “This conference will address both the risks and benefits of international medical travel. In particular, issues and concerns surrounding healthcare quality control will be examined, with a special focus on opportunities in Mexico.”
Below are some of the event's highlights:
For information and registration, visithttp://meditourexpo.net . For sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities, please e-mail: Joanne(at)meditourexpo(dot)net.
Global Reproductive and Fertility Tourism Congress and Expo
All aspects of fertility and medical treatment abroad will be addressed at the Global Reproductive and Fertility Tourism Congress and Expo to be held July 12-15, 2011 in Barcelona Spain.
Doctors will be talking about the latest advances in fertility care. Attorneys will be discussing the legal aspects involved within health tourism globally. Representatives from insurance companies and tourism agencies will also attend. The expo is a globally promoted event specific to tourism as it applies to reproductive infertility health.
Costs of fertility treatments are causing some American women to consider traveling abroad for procedures. Along with the allure of exotic destinations, traveling abroad may cost thousands of dollars less than they would at home. Pamela Madsen, executive director and founder of the American Fertility Association estimates the average cost for in vitro fertilization (IVF) in the U.S. to be approximately $12,000 per cycle. Some women have to go through several cycles.
Problems that experts are cautioning American women against include a decreased success rate compared to a U.S. procedure and egg donors not giving complete informed consent, which was the case recently at one Romanian clinic.
SEEKING OPPORTUNITY: Leyah Cole
My goal is to obtain employment or internship in health care related industries; with a long-term goal of owning my own medical tourism company. Based on my prior work experiences, academic knowledge with a degree in International Business (Spanish Intensive) and similar career interest I believe I’d be best suited for positions, such as: business administration, research and development, consulting and/or management.
What I can offer is:
For more details, I'd be happy to send you my most current resume.
To submit your job posting or a description of your desired position to email@example.com. Please keep text to 100 words or less.