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© 2012 Medical Travel Today

Medical Travel Today is a publication of CPR Strategic Marketing Communications, a public relations firm based near New York City that specializes in healthcare and life sciences, with an international clientele. CPR, its Partners, and clients are at the nexus of where medical travel is today, and where it will be tomorrow.

Publisher, Laura Carabello

Table of Contents

From the Editor

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

News in Review

Border Town Targets Underinsured For Medical Tourism

U.S. patients report inferior care

Medical tourism sets pulses racing

Websites Aim To Help Consumers Compare Healthcare Costs

Spotlight

Simon Hudson, Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism and Economic Development, University of South Carolina, PART TWO

Spotlight

David Mair, Soter Healthcare, Part One

Industry News

30 Days and Counting Until "WELL-BEING AND MEDICAL TRAVEL CONFERENCE 2012"

Andreini & Company names Jim DiFalco Vice President of Sales for Employee Benefit Captive Services Division

Osceola County Offers Workers Free Surgeries - Overseas

Medical tourism skyrockets; Three million patients go abroad for medical treatment every year

Patients Beyond Borders Launches Dubai Healthcare City Edition

Health Bargain Hunters Use Websites To Cut Doctor Bills

 

Upcoming Events

Certificate & Training Workshop in Medical Tourism Mumbai, India, June 1--June2, 2012.

WELL-BEING TRAVEL CONFERENCE 2012

Hotels Bridging Healthcare Conference Announced

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Global Health Voyager

THIS WEEK IN MEDICAL TRAVEL TODAY
Volume 6, Issue 11

by Amanda Haar, Editor

Greetings,

While major media seems to be focused on the big billion dollar opportunities and numbers that medical travel promises, there are a few folks who are keeping their focus a little closer to the ground and home.

In our first SPOTLIGHT we feature Part Two of our conversation with Dr. Simon Hudson of the Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism and Economic Development, University of South Carolina and learn what he thinks domestic facilities need to do to compete with global and local entities. He also has some interesting ideas about the role and necessity of facilitators when care stays in country.

Finally, please note there are only a few weeks left until the Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference on June 20-21 in Scottsdale, Ariz. Sponsors and attendees from around the world promise to make for some robust discussions and offer new ways of think about market opportunities. Who knows? Maybe you'll discover YOUR big-billion opportunity there.

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

Cheers,

Amanda Haar, Editor
ahaar@cpronline.com 

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CORRECTION

Editor's Note: In our last issue we ran a release from TravelMarketReport.com that contained an error. We thank Ian Youngman, an MTT reader and author of the incorrectly attributed report, for calling it to our attention. Mr. Youngman wrote:

The most recent issue of Medical Travel Today carried a feature from Travel Market Report 'Medical Travel Morphing into Niche Markets, Study Finds'

Unfortunately, the original feature badly mangled information on, and even got the title wrong, of my "Medical Tourism Facts and Figures 2012."

It wrongly stated that the International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ) publishes the study. This is false, and ironically shows how easy it is for misinformation to spread.

The report is one of many that I do on insurance, banking and medical travel.

I am the publisher, editor, researcher, writer, tea boy and dispatcher.

IMTJ, and the company behind it, has no input, editorial control or any other influence on the copy. They are one of five wholesalers of my reports in the USA, India, Ireland and the UK. None of these wholesalers even sees any copy as they do the sales and I send the report direct to customers.
 
One organization recently accused my report of "stabbing medical tourism in the back by being gloomy." Unlike many other report publishers I do not produce figures or make estimates to fill gaps in knowledge. I have spent five years collecting figures and information from round the globe. As a trained economist with professional insurance qualifications and 30 years of research experience, I analyze the available figures and comment on them. My "crime" is shooting down mythical projections such as one produced this week by a trade body - "it is a fact that medical tourism is growing by 35 percent a year" - no research, no proof, just rubbish to promote a conference.

I am currently working on "The potential for US domestic medical tourism - a guide for employers, hospitals, insurers, brokers, travel and medical tourism agencies, and consultants."

Ian Youngman
Norfolk, UK

Log onto Facebook and join the Medical Travel Today Group. Look for recent news, trends, and post discussions in the board. If you would like to see something in Medical Travel Today let us know in the discussion board. If you have a question, post it there!

You can also follow Medical Travel Today on Twitter. For more information log onto www.medicaltraveltoday.com

Spotlight

Simon Hudson, Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism and Economic Development, University of South Carolina, PART TWO

Dr. Simon Hudson, Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism and Economic Development, University of South Carolina

Editor's Note: Earlier this year Dr. Simon Hudson and his colleague Xiang (Robert) Li published a research report entitled, Domestic Medical Tourism: A Neglected Dimension of Medical Tourism Research. Since then Hudson has presented at several medical travel events where his findings and ideas have been both challenged and lauded. Medical Travel Today caught up with Hudson to learn more about the findings in the report and the cause of the mixed reception. What follows is Part Two of our conversation. Part One can be viewed here.

MTT: How has the concept of domestic medical travel been received at the conferences where you presented?

SH: That depends on the audience. At one event where the focus was really on getting Americans to go abroad, I felt like an imposter. There I am touting how American facilities can compete and I got a lot of challenges from the audience. "American hospitals can't be cost competitive." "There's no such thing as personalized care." "The quality is the same and the experience is worse."

Again, these were folks actively looking to recruit Americans elsewhere. They sort of have an obligation to root for their team, if you will. But I think every time this idea is brought forward, you can see some light bulbs going on. And for a variety of reasons.

MTT: It's interesting. In spite of the challenges of getting to the needed competitive level, American hospitals do have a significant advantage in that they can learn from the successes and failures in the international medical travel business. Granted it's a slightly different wheel they need to build but in most areas, it operates on many of the same principles. I think that the cost of and timeframe for getting in the game here and now should be significantly less than it was for international players even just a few years ago.

SH: The US, with its strong pharmaceutical industry and high-tech hospitals, does have a head start, and cutting-edge research institutions like the Cleveland and Mayo Clinics and Johns Hopkins, have been targeting an international clientele for decades. But recent years have seen a flow in the opposite direction, with American patients traveling abroad in search of less expensive and often more luxurious healthcare.

This growth in medical tourism internationally is challenging American hospitals to rethink the way they do business, but I think that if hospital managers can improve the efficiency of their operations in order to reduce costs, offer more personalized care, and work with destination marketers to "package" medical tourism, then they will be able to compete. I would also suggest that US hospitals emphasize that patients treated in many foreign countries have limited legal remedies in the event of an adverse outcome caused by medical malpractice.

MTT: Do you think facilitators will play as big a role in domestic medical travel as they have in the international arena?

SH: Intermediaries or facilitators are important players in this industry. Since organizing healthcare in other countries requires purchasing air tickets, finding an appropriate medical facility and suitably qualified physicians, reserving hotel accommodations for accompanying travelers, negotiating prices and arranging payment, and transferring medical records, "medical brokerages", or "medical travel agencies" have emerged to bridge the gap between clients and caregivers. They link international healthcare facilities to prospective clients seeking inexpensive treatments. Medical brokers like Planet Hospital facilitate packages to Belgium, Costa Rica, India, Mexico, Singapore, Thailand, Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador, Panama, Uruguay and the US. Medical brokerages also provide the concierge services customers receive when they obtain healthcare abroad, and often promote exotic side trips such as visits to the vineyards of Stellenbosch in South Africa, or the Taj Mahal in India.

Because there is less uncertainty and risk in traveling domestically, intermediaries may not play such an important role as domestic medical tourism grows. In fact a key driver these days in the medical tourism phenomenon is the platform provided by the Internet for gaining access to healthcare information and advertising. However, there will always be a role for facilitators, and already we are seeing the emergence of medical tourism brokers for domestic travelers. Healthplace America, for example, offers a travel-for-care benefit directly to health plans that offer discounts, including travel and lodging on surgeries performed in 35 locations throughout the US. Likewise, Healthbase, a medical tourism company based in Newton, Mass., works with healthcare providers in California, Florida, Kansas and Nevada helping them fill beds for certain discounted surgeries

About Simon Hudson
The endowed chair for the South Carolina Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism and Economic Development, Dr. Simon Hudson joined the University of South Carolina in January 2010. He has held previous academic positions at universities in Canada and England, and has worked as a visiting professor in Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Fiji, New Zealand, the United States, and Australia.

Prior to working in academia, Dr. Hudson spent several years working in the tourism industry in Europe. Dr. Hudson has written five books: Snow Business; Sports and Adventure Tourism; Marketing for Tourism and Hospitality: A Canadian Perspective; Tourism and Hospitality Marketing: A Global Perspective ; and Golf Tourism. His next book on customer service will be published in January 2013. The marketing of tourism is the focus of his research, and, in addition to the books, he has published more than 45 journal articles from his work. Dr. Hudson is frequently invited to international tourism conferences as a keynote speaker. His personal website address is www.tourismgurus.com.

Spotlight

David Mair, Soter Healthcare, Managing Partner and CEO

David Mair, Soter Healthcare, Part One

Medical Travel Today (MTT): Let's start with your background and involvement in medical travel. What can you tell us?

David Mair (DM): I started in the international healthcare business when I served as the director of risk management and athlete benefits for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).

Going back to 1989, the USOC began offering a health insurance plan for top athletes. We developed a global benefits plan affiliated with quality providers around the world. The plan provided for 1,500 athletes as they traveled and competed on every continent and provided care 365 days a year no matter where they were.

I directed that program up until 2002, when I stepped into the consulting world for a time. I then got back into global health at a travel medical assistance company. The focus there was on the evacuation side of things and working with clients to plan for providing care wherever the need arises. I then joined China Connection Global Healthcare, a start up at the time, and served as its chief operating officer for two years. It was after that experience that I set out to launch Soter Healthcare with my partner, Rick Gallagher.

MTT: My recollection is that China Connection (now International Health) dealt directly with consumers. But it appears Soter is a bit more business centric. Is that correct?

DM: Yes. China Connection dealt only with the consumer market. In launching Soter, we were definitely looking at the potential in the business-to-business arena. In addition, China Connection really had a limited focus on a limited number of medical conditions and worked with hospitals in China alone.

Our aim from the start was to operate on a more global platform using several international centers of excellence and to bring opportunities to both the business community (i.e. employer groups) as well as individuals.

Once we built that out, we turned to the second part of our vision for growth: to craft a health insurance plan that includes destination medical care.

Today we work with clients to establish plans that include a full global benefit.

MTT: I'm curious. Do most of your clients have a multinational presence?

DM: I'd say fifty percent have global exposure. Actually, I think the fact that half don't really highlights the point that the plan makes sense no matter the scope of your organization.

The typical US health insurance policy will provide benefits for emergency medical care when you're outside the US, but you need to pay the costs up front and be reimbursed later. But it won't cover the costs of minor care. That cost is yours alone.
Here's where the odd nature of US-based health insurance becomes apparent.
If you're in Costa Rica on vacation, for example, and get hit by car, you may very well have coverage from your US health insurance company. However, if you get strep, in most cases, you're out of luck. Not only will your health insurance not provide benefits, the expenses you pay won't apply toward your deductible. So if you get strep in Costa Rica you might just want to step in front of a car. I know that's extreme but it points out how US insurance forces people to make silly decisions.

Another aspect worth noting about US care is your health underwriter plans and charges for you to have a 365-day exposure. You actually give them a break when you travel out of the country. From our perspective, it shouldn't matter whether the Paris you are in is in Texas or France, the Athens in Georgia or Greece or the Melbourne in Florida or Australia; if you're sick, you're sick. We treat your need the same no matter where you are. And it doesn't matter whether you're a leisure traveler, traveling for business or even on a short-term assignment. You're covered.

MTT: So what exactly are you offering clients in terms of a plan?

DM: We actually have two arrangements available, based on whether our client utilizes a self-funded or fully insured benefits plan, and whether they are using a plan we design for them or want to integrate Soter benefits and services into their existing plan. In either event, we integrate domestic opportunities, including telemedicine, to reduce claim costs for the insurance plan and out-of-pocket costs to the individual and a specialized financial design with medical reimbursement plans with international reach using our global centers of medical excellence. The international destination medical care benefit provides affordability to the plan and the individual and access to the latest in medical treatment and technology, including procedures not yet available to patients where they live.

MTT: What's the typical reception you get when first presenting the plan options?

DM: Because our design and services are so outside the norm of what many people think about in terms of a health plan, our first meetings often start with a mix of interest, followed by skepticism. But by the time we really get into and reveal the quality of doctors and hospitals and explore the credentialing process for facilities in our network, the skepticism is usually gone and the executive with whom we're meeting is asking for a quote. Later, we go through a very similar process with many of the same reactions as we educate employees and families about this new, different design.

What the majority of people with a good strong benefits package are looking for are ways to save money and to provide access to care that provides positive medical outcomes.

MTT: And your plans do that?

DM: Absolutely. On the cost side, our average client reduces their health insurance cost by 22 percent.

And in terms of medical outcomes, many of the stories are beyond powerful.

One of the more personal situations for me involves my niece, Kara. She has cerebral palsy (CP) and until a couple years ago primarily used a wheelchair for mobility. She had little independent use of her left hand, had frequent seizures and had significant spasticity. She traveled to China for treatment with stem cells, and she's remarkably improved. Her gait is improved, and she now walks with a single crutch. Her vision has improved, and she can use her left hand independently. Her focus in school is better as a result of improvement in other areas. She's just one of the patients with CP we've been able to see benefit from this treatment that is not available in the United States.

More recently, we had a patient who had suffered two previous heart attacks, one around 40 years old and the second about 10 years later. Early last year, he began suffering very similar symptoms, was in pain and feeling weak. He went to physicians at three very good hospitals in the Twin Cities, none of whom were able to diagnose his problem. He met with us and decided to visit TEDA International Cardiovascular Hospital, one of the top hospitals in the world. He then went to China to a cardiovascular hospital and within 36 hours they discovered it wasn't a heart issue but rather a lung issue. Forty-eight hours later he had a complete change in medication and treatment and now he's back in full health.

MTT: What was the difference? The diagnostic tools?

DM: That and the approach to the problem. Their approach is more holistic and blends Western and Eastern approaches to understand how the body is or isn't functioning.

Part Two of this interview will be featured in Issue 12.

About David Mair
David Mair is a founding partner of Soter Healthcare, Inc., a global healthcare and benefits firm that designs and delivers insurance and medical care solutions for individuals and organizations. Soter Healthcare's unique blending of international destination medical care and value-added benefits provide cost control, financial relief, and access to a global network of medical centers of excellence, as well as the latest in medical treatment, technique and technology.

Mair is a 20-year international risk management, benefits and insurance executive. He began his international benefits career as director of Risk Management and Athlete Benefits for the United States Olympic Committee, where he oversaw the design and administration of the USOC's health insurance program for America's Olympic athletes. During his tenure, he was responsible for assisting athletes locate and access medical care around the world as they trained and competed in international events

Following his departure from the USOC in July 2002, Mr. Mair was president of Risk Excellence, a strategic risk and leadership consultancy with an emphasis on governmental and nonprofit entities, and later area vice president at Arthur J. Gallagher & Company. Prior to forming Soter Healthcare, he briefly served as director of Client Relations and Interim chief of emergency operations for MEDEX Global Group. 

Mair is a former president of the Risk and Insurance Management Society and served five years on its Executive Council. He also served two terms as president and seven years on the Board of Directors of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center (NORMAC). NORMAC, located in Washington, D.C., provides risk management education and support services to over 20,000 nonprofit and small public entities nationwide.

Mair received a Bachelor of Arts degree, with honors, from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1980 and a Master of Science degree in Sports Administration from the University of Oklahoma in 1987.

He can be reached at: David.mair@soterhealth.com

Industry News

30 Days and Counting Until...

"WELL-BEING AND MEDICAL TRAVEL CONFERENCE 2012"

In just under 30 days on June 20-21, 2012, the "Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference 2012" will kick off at The Phoenician luxury resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. (www.well-beingtravelconference.com).

"Travel and tourism has been making big news lately," said Anne Marie Moebes, executive vice president at Well-Being Travel. "Brand USA, the new tourism marketing entity responsible for promoting the US to world travelers, was recently launched. Earlier in the year, a task force on travel and competitiveness was formed by executive order. And several large corporations have announced their support of medical travel for their employees. With consumer confidence now starting to trend upwards, this is a good time for travel sellers to learn how to add a medical and wellness specialty to their travel offerings."

The two-day Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference 2012will provide specialized, in-depth education for travel sellers about all aspects of wellness travel and spa vacations, as well as selling to and servicing medical travelers. Travel sellers will gain the tools, knowledge and contacts they need to profit in this niche. Attendees will have opportunities to hear from and meet with top-level executives from key organizations including: medical travel facilitators, internationally accredited hospitals, corporate wellness programs, tourism ministries, destination spas and resorts and other travel suppliers. Participants will also leave the event with detailed action plans for selling medical and wellness travel.

Biggest Loser Contestant, Sione Fa, to Make Guest Appearance at "WELL-BEING AND MEDICAL TRAVEL CONFERENCE 2012"

Sione Fa, from Season 7 of the smash hit "The Biggest Loser," will make a guest appearance at the "Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference 2012" on June 20-21, 2012, at The Phoenician luxury resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. (www.well-beingtravelconference.com). Travel sellers attending the event will have the opportunity to meet him and hear his secrets about lifestyle transformation and insights into the magic of The Biggest Loser Resorts.

Just completing its 13th season, NBC's "The Biggest Loser" pits contestants against each other to inspire them to lose weight in a big way and develop healthy lifestyles. Sione Fa weighed 372 lbs. when he started his experience on the show. During the show and through his personal journey to weight loss, he developed a passion for wellness and training. Now at 245 lbs. and an AFAA-certified personal and group trainer, Sione is a full-time trainer at The Biggest Loser Resort and a sought-after motivational speaker.

To find out more about attending or sponsorships at the Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference 2012, visit www.well-beingtravelconference.com or contact Debbie Press (888-854-0339 or dpress@well-beingtravel.com).

Industry News

Andreini & Company names Jim DiFalco Vice President of Sales for Employee Benefit Captive Services Division

San Mateo, CA - Andreini & Company, one of the largest privately-held insurance brokerage firms, has named Jim DiFalco as vice president of Sales for their Employee Benefits Captive Services Division. Jim will be part of Andreini's Employee Benefits practice building upon the firm's already dominant position in the Captive Services business for mid-sized to large employers.

"We are very excited about adding Jim to our sales team," says Tia Andreini, COO of Andreini & Company. "Jim's insurance background and extensive work with self-funded employers, coupled with his general management and overall leadership skills, will enable us to further expand our captive sales capabilities, for which we have already experienced great success."

Jim's background includes five years with Blue Shield of California in the development and distribution of self-funded products to mid-size and large group employers (Taft Hartley and Public Sector.)

Most recently, Jim was vice president of Business Development for WorldMed Assist, a leader in medical travel facilitation for consumers. Jim was instrumental in expanding WorldMed's offering to the corporate market.

Jim has an undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College and an MBA from Pace University.

Andreini & Company was found in 1951. With headquarters in San Mateo, Calif., the company has grown to become one of the largest privately owned insurance brokers in the United States. The company consistently ranks in the Top 50 independently-owned insurance brokers and in the top 100 of all U.S. insurance brokers.

Industry News

Osceola County Offers Workers Free Surgeries - Overseas

Editor's Note: Recently journalist David Breen of the Orlando Sentinel was compiling a story on medical travel. In the course of his research, Breen reached out to Medical Travel Today's publisher Laura Carabello for comment. An excerpt of his story and a link to the complete piece follows below.

Patients who want to have their surgery for free, with a little foreign vacation on the side, may soon have that choice. Medical tourism, a concept that alarms some consumers and doctors alike, is slowly gaining national momentum, and it will soon be an option for Osceola County government employees.

The county's new health plan, which starts Oct. 1, offers employees an incentive to use less-expensive overseas doctors and hospitals in such countries as IndiaSingapore and Turkey. The new international feature will cover more than a dozen common elective procedures, including heart bypass, joint replacements, gastric procedures and hysterectomies.

To continue reading click here.

Industry News

Patients Beyond Borders Launches Dubai Healthcare City Edition


Patients Beyond Borders: Dubai Healthcare City Edition

First edition addressing medical tourism in the Middle East to be introduced at Arabian Travel Market conference

Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) and Healthy Travel Media are pleased to announce the official release of Patients Beyond Borders: Dubai Healthcare City Edition, which will be published in English and Arabic for international distribution. Supported by DHCC, the 156-page guidebook offers an in-depth overview of JCI-accredited hospitals, selected health travel agents, accommodations, and essential travel information for one of the world's top medical travel destinations.

Located in the heart of Dubai, DHCC is one of the world's largest healthcare developments, at 4.1 million square feet. DHCC is home to two JCI-accredited hospitals, more than 100 medical centers that follow stringent standards in healthcare delivery, and more than 180 healthcare support providers. With over 3,500 medical professionals, DHCC hosts some of the leading healthcare providers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Among DHCC's currently operational medical centers and diagnostic laboratories are: American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital, Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Center, Dubai Bone & Joint Center, German Medical Center, London Center for Aesthetic Surgery, Magrabi Eye Hospital, Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai, Nicolas and Asp University College, and The City Hospital. Several world-renowned pharmaceutical companies are also based in DHCC, such as AstraZeneca, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi Aventis, and Pfizer.
"Centrally located at the crossroads of Asia, Europe, and Africa, Dubai now boasts 25 American-accredited hospitals, facilities, and programs-nearly half of all the JCI-accredited programs in the UAE," says Josef Woodman, CEO of Patients Beyond Borders. "With its culturally compatible surroundings and accessible, convenient tourism infrastructure, Dubai Healthcare City is poised to become a leading medical travel destination for patients near and far."

"Dubai Healthcare City has made great strides in recent years, and we are pleased to be partnering with Healthy Travel Media to produce Patients Beyond Borders: Dubai Healthcare City Edition," says Dr. Ayesha Abdullah, managing director for DHCC. "In line with our vision to attract medical tourism to Dubai, we are confident the world's leading consumer reference guide for medical tourism will bring even greater awareness of DHCC as a world-class medical center to healthcare consumers throughout the region and the world."

Woodman, an advocate of affordable, high-quality medical care for healthcare consumers and author of Patients Beyond Borders: Dubai Healthcare City Edition, will be on hand to officially launch both the English and Arabic editions at Arabian Travel Market 2012, which takes place at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Center from April 30--May 3. The event, held this year under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, historically attracts more than 22,000 healthcare industry professionals from around the world.

Industry News

Health Bargain Hunters Use Websites To Cut Doctor Bills

Surgery to remove your appendix in one California hospital could cost $180,000. Have the operation at a different facility in the same state and the bill might be as little as $1,500.

That kind of disparity, typical across the country, combined with escalating medical spending and the increasing amount of data available online, has prompted several startups to get into the business of helping companies and their employees save health-care dollars.

"This is about changing the way people shop for healthcare, and as a consequence, changing the way care gets delivered," said Giovanni Colella, co-founder of Castlight Health Inc., a San Francisco-based company that helps patients shop for medical care.

Upcoming Events

Certificate & Training Workshop in Medical Tourism Mumbai, India, June 1--June2, 2012.

With an aim to address these challenges and help participants to understand and develop an effective strategy to not only survive but succeed in medical tourism industry, Constellation Communications & Events, an Indian arm of Lifeline Healthcare, Dubai is organizing a Two Day Certificate Program for medical tourism professionals in India.

To learn more or to register, click here.


WELL-BEING TRAVEL CONFERENCE 2012

Medical Travel Today Publisher Laura Carabello featured opening day speaker

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Ground-Breaking Event Merges Health, Wellness and Medical Industries with Travel Sellers Around the Globe

Registration is now open for the ground-breaking "Well-Being Travel Conference 2012" which will take place on June 20-21, 2012, at The Phoenician luxury resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. (www.well-beingtravelconference.com). The three-day event is positioned to make a major impact on the global health, wellness and medical travel industries because, for the first time, medical and wellness representatives will be placed face-to-face with travel providers and travel sellers who have worldwide customer databases.

Participants from around the world are expected to attend, including key representatives from medical facilities, hospitals, dental facilities, spa/wellness facilities, insurance companies, tourist boards, travel agencies, and travel providers (including hotels and resorts, airlines, tour operators, cruise lines, car rental companies and ancillary travel services).

The co-sponsors of the event are Well-Being Travel (the go-to resource for medical and wellness travel) and Travel Market Report (an online travel trade publication that represents the voice of travel sellers worldwide).

"There are a variety of medical travel events being offered in the marketplace today, but none of them has yet provided a solution for a strong distribution system that effectively reaches consumers," said Anne Marie Moebes, Executive Vice President of Well-Being Travel. "That system must include: travel sellers who are already booking all types of travel for their dedicated clients; destinations who want to promote their countries to medical travelers; hospitals and doctors who provide the procedures and pre/post medical care; wellness practitioners who administer alternative treatments; and travel industry suppliers who need to understand what products and services this special market segment needs. The Well-Being Travel Conference 2012 brings together all the key players for the greatest benefit of patient travelers."
The event will explore medical and wellness tourism opportunities and set a direction for the future of this specialty market. Speakers from the world's best health and travel organizations will educate and motivate on topics such as:

- Marketing and sales strategies to effectively reach consumers
- Setting global accreditation standards
- How Ministries of Health and Ministries of Tourism can work together to boost the economy
- Insights from actual patient travelers
- Future of wellness and medical travel product innovations
- Growth in preventive wellness treatments abroad
- Trends in employee health benefits programs

At the Well-Being Travel Conference 2012, resources will be provided so that participants from every segment of each industry involved in medical and wellness travel will depart from the event with an action plan to implement specialized travel offerings.

To find out more about attending the Well-Being Travel Conference 2012 or participating as a sponsor, visit www.well-beingtravelconference.com or contact Debbie Press (888-854-0339 or dpress@well-beingtravel.com).


Hotels Bridging Healthcare Conference Announced

Registration is now open for June 2012 Hotels Bridging Healthcare conference

Registration is now open for Hotels Bridging Healthcare (H2H), a conference on hotel, wellness and medical tourism entrepreneurship designed to provide an overview of medical tourism today and the future and concept of H2H with wellness spas.

Organized by co-chairs Ali Poorani and Frederick DeMicco of the Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management at the University of Delaware, the conference will focus on the development, operation and branding of medical tourism services developed between hotels, resorts and medical facilities.

The conference will be held Saturday, June 16, through Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz Wellbeing and Medical Health Center in Switzerland. Participants can register online using the conference website

Other agenda items include panel presentations and discussions on the operational model of Bad Ragaz, the branding of cities and towns for medical tourism, financial and investment issues, potential infrastructure and legal issues and the impact on doctor/patient communication.

Max Koppel, M.D., clinical associate professor at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, has collaborated with Poorani and DeMicco and will preside as the H2H conference medical advisor.

According to Koppel, "the conference will advance the international availability of the highest quality care with fewer bureaucratic barriers. The conference will also focus on patient dignity, safety and expanded freedom of choice through the hospitality concept," said Koppel.

The conference is sponsored by Hospitality Associates for Research and Training (HART); the University of Delaware; the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics; the Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management; and the College of Health Sciences.

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

Border Town Targets Underinsured For Medical Tourism
Fronteradesk.org - On a recent Saturday morning, a group of strangers gathered in the parking lot of the Boulevard Mall in Las Vegas. There they boarded a van with Baja California, Mexico, license plates that would take them to prearranged dentist and doctor's visits in the Mexican border town of Mexicali.

The new monthly van service from Las Vegas is subsidized by the Mexicali tourism board. The cost for each patient is just $30 round trip.
U.S. patients report inferior care

Fiercehealthcare.com - Not only are sick Americans facing serious financial problems from high healthcare costs (43 percent), but many are experiencing problems with healthcare quality, according to a new poll released yesterday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NPR and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Medical tourism sets pulses racing
themalaysianinsider.com - ... "Everyone wants their share of the pie," Sanjiv Malik, director of DM Healthcare, a Dubai-based network of hospitals, said at a recent conference on medical tourism attended by more than 300 professionals here. The "pie" is getting bigger. Nearly three million patients go abroad for medical treatment every year. Turnover is expected to total 100 billion dollars in 2012, compared with 79 billion in 2010, and increase to 130 billion by 2015, according to global consultancy firm, KPMG. 

Websites Aim To Help Consumers Compare Healthcare Costs
ihealthbeat.org - More startup companies are offering online resources for employers and individuals to find and compare the costs of medical services, Bloomberg reports.

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