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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

Readers Write

News in Review

India's Halal Hospital

Dubai to develop medical tourism initiative 

Advanced Healthcare Partners expands globally with medical tourism company

The Goodness Company Launches Medical Tourism Marketing Website

Medical Tourism and Travel: What it Means for Your Hospital

FAQs on ins, outs of medical travel plans


David Mair, Soter Healthcare, Part Two

Special Report

Exuma: New Community Hospital in Bahamas Serves Locals and Potentially Medical Tourists

Industry News

Self-Insurance Institute of America Reports on What's Motivating Self-Insured Employers to Offshore Their Employees' Surgical Care

Medical Travel for Employees has Benefits for Multiple Stakeholders

Wellness Travel Experience Worth $5,500 to Be Given Away at

BIMC Hospital Teams Up with Courtyard Marriott

A New Tool To Track The Progress Of The Healthcare System

The Dubai Health Authority Discusses Unified Medical Tourism Initiative for the Emirate of Dubai

Medical Lane Expedites Border Waiting Time at Calexico Port of Entry

DotHealth, LLC Applies for .Health New Generic Top Level Domain

Upcoming Events


Hotels Bridging Healthcare Conference Announced

5th Annual Middle East Healthcare Expansion Summit

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Global Health Voyager

Volume 6, Issue 12

by Amanda Haar, Editor


The Self-Insurer, a publication of the Self-Insurance Institute of America, recently shined a light on the value proposition of medical and surgical care abroad. Penned by David Boucher of Companion Global Healthcare, the piece examines the differentiators that are driving employers to offshore their employees' surgical care (see INDUSTRY NEWS).   It's an interesting read and its emphasis on employers' focus on safety first is an interesting contrast to other pieces in this issue that posit that potential cost-savings are what truly drives the industry.

I am not convinced, however, that cost is the driving factor of the industry. Yes, a $30,000-price difference makes for a great headline. But the fact that the media is filled more stories about savings than sloppy care, suggests that quality and safety measures are clearly in place, and arguably a key motivator for industry players.

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


Amanda Haar, Editor




The problem with our medical care here in the US is that it's based on an economic model that is a disaster. Quality has caved in to the adoption of directives here that remove the humanity from healthcare, employing hospitalists who do nothing other than provide the hospitals with more income. Putting all physicians in a particular discipline from the insurance companies point of view are all of equal education, knowledge, experience, compassion; "pick anyone from the list we sent you. They are all equal." Primary care is about to disappear if reimbursement stays so much below the "specialists." After all, it is the primary care physicians who provide them with the patients they see and charge inordinate amounts.

In today's Dallas newspaper, they talked about a man who had an aortic valve replaced and the total bill was over $95,000. That is where "medical tourism" has its place, again not because the care is better, but because it is cheaper.

But don't ever forget that the wealthy Indians, Thais, and others who have sufficient money, all want to come to the US, where cost is not a problem. In the Houston Medical Center, all signs from everything for hotels, transportation and all hospital directions are in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese. Those folks wouldn't stay in their home country for anything. So medical tourism is a way for the insurance companies to approve care overseas, ONLY BECAUSE IT WILL COST THEM LESS.

Dr. Bob Kramer
214 676 5692 office
214 522 8040 fax

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David Mair, Soter Healthcare, Managing Partner and CEO

David Mair, Soter Healthcare, Part Two

Editor's Note: In last week's issue of Medical Travel Today, we featured Part One of our conversation with David Mair of Soter Healthcare in which he offered insight into how Soter health plans integrate both domestic and international opportunities, including telemedicine, to reduce claim costs for the insurance plan and out-of-pocket costs. In Part Two we learn how consumers are currently using the plans, as well as Soter's facilitator services and credentialing process.

MTT: What's the nature of care most of your patients are seeking?

DM: I'd say the biggest use falls under the area of futile conditions. That is something that is too expensive to treat for the benefit that's gained. Stroke rehabilitation, organ transplant for certain stages of life, spinal cord injury, those all fall under that umbrella.

Our plan makes a collective world knowledge and experience available.

Things you wouldn't find in the US, like stem cell and some integrated programs of Western and Chinese medicine, specially designed acupuncture techniques and son on, these can be very effective for stroke and brain injury but, again, you can't get them here.

And then there are simply outcomes and survival rates. If you go on our website you can see a comparison chart of clinical outcomes for various conditions. It's pretty compelling.
Another interesting component of our plan is telemedicine. We've actually integrated telemedicine on a global basis to reduce the number of patient visits to the doctor or ER when plan members are abroad.

If someone has a non-emergent medical need, they can access a US-based doctor group for a consultation. So let's say you're in Mexico and not feeling well. Rather than going to a hospital or clinic, where they may not speak English or have the level of care you're hoping for, you can contact our telemedicine service and get an assessment of your condition. The telemedicine doctors obviously can't diagnose everything, nor can they prescribe medication. They can provide some suggestions for relief or advise you to seek more care. We can then assist them in locating the care they need. Either way, it gives the patient peace of mind and reduces the overall cost of care.

MTT: Tell me about the facilitator side of your business.

DM: We launched the facilitator piece of Soter's business first and the insurance side evolved around it. 

But even that we do a bit differently. Unlike a lot of facilitators who tout the size of their network, we maintain one of the smaller networks. We do this intentionally for a couple reasons. First, we focus on medical centers of excellence, because we emphasize quality of care and medical outcomes over price and location. A hospital has to be able to meet or exceed the quality of its American peer hospitals and rank among the best in the world to be considered for our network. When we look at US peer hospitals we look at specialty facilities, not just regular hospitals. Second, we have stringent requirements for inclusion and for remaining in our network. We monitor very closely the performance of each hospital and its staff. They have to deliver at or above the levels that got them into the network, including in areas of patient experience.

We set the bar very high on both sides of the equation. The best hospitals are able to meet our requirements pretty easily. The marginal hospitals generally don't apply or don't meet Soter's standards for acceptance.

MTT: I imagine that bar alone limits how many facilities get in.

DM: That's true. We decline about eight hospitals that start the process for every one that makes it. There are a lot of hospitals that contact us and later don't even try to secure credentialing, because once they see the requirements they recognize it's not likely they're going to make it. There are many hospitals found in other facilitator's networks or that market themselves to international patients that don't meet our credentialing standards. That doesn't mean they aren't good hospitals in some respects. It just means they aren't great or they aren't sufficiently committed to providing the levels of care and support our clients expect.

MTT: What exactly are you looking at or for?

DM: We're looking at a range of things. We have a proprietary credentialing process that includes over 300 individual items to be evaluated. Some items are addressed by domestic and international accreditation agencies and others are specific to Soter.

MTT: What kinds of things are on that list?

DM: (laughing) For us, it's a little like the formula for Coca-Cola. We hold on to it pretty tightly. I can share some at a high level though.

We look at frequency and outcomes of medical procedures, physician experience and expertise, patient safety, international patient experience, hospital-acquired infection rates, among others. We look as well at patient experience items, like availability of 24-hour nursing care from English-speaking staff, frequency of linen changes, temperature control and on-site services. We also include how well a hospital is prepared to support our pre-treatment consultation and continuity of care requirements.

Another big area is the matter of resolving patient disputes. We contractually require our network hospitals to agree to a dispute resolution procedure. Even though it's rare for a malpractice issue to arise in medical travel, it continues to be the greatest area of concern for many people. We try to minimize that by requiring facilities to commit to a process if an issue arises. This way there's accountability on the part of every provider for every client. It also helps to ensure that both the care and continuity of care are performed with equal quality.

MTT: You actually offer a credentialing program. Can you describe that and how it compares to other options?

DM: It's not so much something we offer as much as it is our process for evaluating hospitals for inclusion in our network. What I mean by that is we don't offer it as a standalone service.
Our process consists of three phases. We price it for hospitals that are interested in joining our network in phases, so they only have to pay for them one at a time. The first is a baseline review focused on determining whether a hospital has the right commitment to international patient care and the resources to deliver well. The other two stages are the proprietary process I mentioned. They include on-site evaluations, discussions with staff and patients, and negotiations around the agreements needed to ensure care is always delivered and patients served well. The process includes features that were important to me during my time supporting Olympic athletes. We believe every patient needs and deserves that same level of service.

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 US 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 B.A., 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

ISpecial Report

Exuma: New Community Hospital in Bahamas Serves Locals and Potentially Medical Tourists

By Laura Carabello

Georgetown, Exuma - Directly across the road from the "Fish Fry" eateries on Queens Highway - the only paved end-to-end main artery on the sleepy 37 mile (60 km) island of Exuma - is the construction site of a 10- to12-bed community hospital.

A $14 million building project, not including expenditures for furniture, equipment or other fittings, began in April 2012. The 31,500 square foot facility is expected to take about 15 months to complete. The Exuma government also anticipates moving its municipal and government buildings to adjacent properties, with construction of a new housing subdivision and a school.

The single-story building will offer full healthcare services, including dental and medical capabilities, and will house the following services:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Laboratory
  • Exam Rooms
  • Trauma Center
  • Emergency Room
  • Dispensary
  • Operating Room
  • Recovery Room
  • X-Ray
  • Electrocardiography Mammography
  • Outpatient Center
  • Ambulance Service
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Administrative Offices
  • Morgue and Mechanical equipment in two auxiliary buildings

Construction Site and Crew

According to the on-site construction manager, Vernon Wells of Reef Construction Ltd, Freeport, Bahamas vwells@reefconstructionbahamas.com, "The Exuma National Insurance Board is fully behind this project, with additional private sector endowments from many locals who have substantial residences on the island. It is expected that the hospital, which had been promised to the local population for many years, will also serve neighboring islands that need more advanced healthcare services."

It should be noted that Reef Construction Ltd handled all renovations of the Rand Memorial Hospital in Freeport.

Existing Clinic in Exuma Municipal Offices

According to reports in The Nassau Guardian, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham says that the government is commencing the construction of community hospitals in Exuma and Abaco, with proposals to build hospitals in Eleuthera and Long Island. This development of community hospitals is a critical part of his government's strategic plan for the development of the Family Islands, including investing in an array of public services and infrastructure such as airports, roads, ports and on-island access to services such as those offered by the Public treasury and other government entities.

Ingraham says that the new port, hospital facility and bypass road are being built to improve the quality of life of hotel employees traveling to work, mothers receiving pre-natal and neo-natal care, farmers shipping their produce, and small business people seeking to expand their businesses.

Did you know...

Fish Fry Eateries in Exuma

Exuma is a district of the Bahamas, consisting of over 360 islands (or cays). The largest of the cays is Great Exuma, which is 37 miles (60 km) in length and joined to another island, Little Exuma, by a small bridge. The capital and largest city in the district is George Town (permanent population 1,000), founded 1793 and located on Great Exuma. The Tropic of Cancer runs across a beach close to the city. The entire island chain is 130 miles (209 km) long and 27 square miles (72 km) in area.

Between 2000 and 2010, the population of Exuma more than doubled, reflecting the construction of large and small resort properties, and the related increased direct airlift to Great Exuma from locations as distant as Toronto, Canada.

Brief History of Exuma
The island was settled in or around 1783 by American loyalists fleeing the Revolutionary War. The expatriates brought a cotton plantation economy to the islands. George Town was named in honor of George III, to whom the settlers maintained their loyalty.

Lord John Rolle, a major Loyalist settler of the Exumas, is a major figure in the islands' heritage. Upon his death in 1835, he bestowed all of his significant Exuma land holdings to his slaves. As a result, a number of towns on Great Exuma have been named after him (such as Rolleville and Rolletown).

The islands are a popular spot for fishing, yachting, sailing, diving, and coral reef and cave exploring.

Industry News

Self-Insurance Institute of America Reports on What's Motivating Self-Insured Employers to Offshore Their Employees' Surgical Care

Editor's Note: Just as this issue was getting ready to publish, we were alerted to an article in the May issue of The Self-Insurer, a publication of the Self-Insurance Institute of America. Written by David Boucher of Companion Global Healthcare, the story's focus is the factors compelling American employers to consider incentivizing employees to seek care abroad. It's interesting to note that savings came in last on the list of three factors.

To read the story click here. See page 2.

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

Medical Travel for Employees has Benefits for Multiple Stakeholders

Travelmarketreport.com - Adding medical travel to the employee benefit menu can be a plus both for the employer and for its corporate travel department. One obvious benefit - the additional air and hotel volume associated with medical travel --count toward contract performance minimums and rebate thresholds.

And one less-obvious benefit - travel department input into medical travel -- helps control costs.

HR meets T&E
"Medical travel crosses the boundary between travel and human resources," said Farrah Walsh, president of medical travel arranger Minerva Journeys. "HR knows medical benefits and the advantages of selecting medical centers based on outcomes and costs of medical care. Travel knows about managing the travel element. 

"Combining that expertise can give employees of the company the best possible medical care while keeping travel costs under control," said Walsh, who will be a featured panelist at the Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., June 20-21.

Traveling for Treatment
While traveling to receive top-flight medical care isn't a new concept, companies tend not to think about sending employees much farther than the nearest hospital for elective procedures like heart bypass or knee replacement surgeries. 

But that's changing. Loews, PepsiCo and other major companies have already cut deals with Mayo Clinic and other medical centers to treat employees from around the country. 

Minerva Journeys and other medical travel facilitators are seeking to expand the scope of medical travel to destinations around the globe, including Costa Rica, Hungary, India and Thailand. Minerva also has several US hospitals in its network. 

Big Savings
The idea is the same - spend a little on travel to save a lot on high-quality medical care.

"Even if you stay within the US, there are significant cost savings from selecting treatment in one state versus another or even one hospital versus another in the same state," Walsh said. "People don't realize how dramatically costs for the same procedure can vary from one hospital to the next." 

The economics can be attractive. A colonoscopy to screen for colorectal cancer can cost upwards of $3,500 in the US, Walsh said. The same procedure costs $350 in Costa Rica. 

Whether that price difference is enough to merit sending employees to Costa Rica or elsewhere for the procedure depends on the company, its employee benefit design and its health coverage costs.

The corporate mindset
"Medical travel is a way to provide employees with more options for healthcare. The company saves on care costs and employees save on co-pays," Walsh said. 

"The hurdle is showing companies how they can integrate medical travel into their employee benefit plans without changing plan providers." 

Looking beyond cost
Medical travel isn't only about cutting costs, according to Walsh. It is about improving the quality of medical care that employees receive as well. 

When it comes to high-performance procedures such as a coronary artery bypass graft, hospitals and surgeons with more experience tend to do a better job. One reason that centers of excellence like the Mayo Clinic or the University of California Los Angeles produce better outcomes than the typical community hospital is that they perform hundreds of such operations every year.

International care
High-volume, high-quality centers in the US are also-rans compared to cardiac specialty hospitals in India, according to Walsh.

"The top medical travel hospital in India does hundreds of [cardiac procedures] every month," Walsh explained. "They have some of the most experienced surgeons and surgical teams in the world. Their outcomes are second to none and their pricing is unbelievable by US standards."

Comparing costs
The typical coronary artery bypass graft that costs $50,000 at the Mayo Clinic or $90,000 at UCLA costs $4,000 in India or $10,000 in Costa Rica, she said. Even when the costs of international travel for the patient and a companion are added in, the cost savings are still significant.

"If a procedure costs more than $4,000 to $5,000, you will probably start to see price savings by going to another country," she said. "As the procedure gets more expensive, you see more cost savings without losing medical quality."

Industry News

Wellness Travel Experience Worth $5,500 to Be Given Away at "WELL-BEING AND MEDICAL TRAVEL CONFERENCE 2012"

It was recently announced that a spectacular wellness travel experience worth $5,500 will be given away at this month's "Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference 2012" on June 20-21, 2012, at The Phoenician luxury resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. (www.well-beingtravelconference.com).

Participants at the event's trade show will have the opportunity to play the "Passport to Health" game, and those who complete the activity will be entered into a sweepstakes that includes this grand prize among other awards. One lucky attendee will win the four-day wellness travel experience that is sponsored by the acclaimed Anadolu Medical Center, which is based in Turkey and affiliated with Johns Hopkins Medicine. The wellness package includes: a premium check-up with two days of examinations and tests; spa treatment at the Titanic Hotel; tour of the European side of Istanbul (with an English-speaking guide featuring the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Hippodrome, Topkapi Palace, and Rustem Pasa Mosque); and tour of Princes Islands (including a cruise on the Marmara Sea, horse-drawn carriage ride and visits to historical buildings). Part of the package are round-trip airfare during the month of September, airport pick-up and drop-off, five-night stay at the Titanic Hotel with breakfast, and tour expenses.

"Anadolu Medical Center, in affiliation with Johns Hopkins Medicine, is not just a hospital but a multi-disciplinary health complex with center-of-excellence programs in: oncology, general surgery, cardiac care, neurosciences, women's health, in vitro fertilization and orthopedics. These leading programs are recognized in Turkey and beyond. Anadolu Medical Center serves patients from 30 countries, providing innovative and integrated medical services based on a patient-focused care approach," said Burcu Dagistanli, International Services specialist at the Anadolu Medical Center.

Travel sellers who attend the Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference 2012will not only have a chance at winning this fabulous prize, but they will also gain a specialized, in-depth education about all aspects of wellness travel and spa vacations, as well as selling to and servicing medical travelers. They 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 leave the event with detailed action plans for selling medical and wellness travel. And they can earn five continuing education units (CEUs) per day from The Travel Institute.

To find out more about attending 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

BIMC Hospital Teams Up with Courtyard Marriott
traveldailynews.com - BIMC Hospital Group has announced a partnership with the Courtyard by Marriott Bali to provide the country's first-ever medical tourism packages and services to inbound travelers visiting Asia's most popular island destination. 

Inaugurated on May 5 by Indonesian Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Mari Elka Pangestu, along with officials from the Ministry of Health and the Balinese government, the internationally managed BIMC Hospital is well equipped to offer visitors the country's most advanced dialysis treatments, surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures, as well as dental care.

Located along a palm-lined boulevard neighboring BIMC Hospital in the integrated resort complex of Nusa Dua, the Courtyard by Marriott Bali has added specific aftercare services to its range of hospitality in preparation for the launch of the medical facility.
To continue reading click here.

Industry News

A New Tool To Track The Progress Of The Healthcare System

Editor's Note: healthaffairs.org recently ran an interesting piece on an effort by the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department to track how the US health system is performing. The Health System Measurement Project allows people to track the progress being made toward providing all Americans with access to affordable, high-quality healthcare and toward reducing health disparities. Through the presentation of data, including Percentage of People Who Did Not Receive or Delayed Needed Care Due to Cost in the Past 12 Months , Percentage of People Who Reported Difficulty Seeing a Specialist , Percentage of Families with High Out-of-Pocket Medical Expenses for Care , and so on, the data offers new insights into the delivery of care and potentially points to new opportunities.

To read the piece click here.

Industry News

The Dubai Health Authority Discusses Unified Medical Tourism Initiative for the Emirate of Dubai

wam.ae - The Dubai Health Authority met with private sector organizations, Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA) and Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing to discuss and develop a unified medical tourism initiative for the Emirate.

Qadhi Saeed Al Murooshid, director-general of the Dubai Health Authority, said, "In line with the instructions of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, Dubai is keen to foster the medical tourism sector and implement several new initiatives to boost medical tourism in cooperation with other government departments, the DHCA and the private healthcare sector. We strongly believe that the private sector plays a key role in this, and thus we will work with the sector and key relevant government departments, airlines and tourism companies to ensure we develop successful medical tourism initiatives for Dubai.

"The Emirate offers internationally accredited state-of-the-art healthcare facilities, has highly qualified healthcare professionals and an efficient regulatory system that ensures safe and quality healthcare as well as promotes investment in the health sector."

Laila Al Jassmi, CEO of Health Policy and Strategy Sector, said, "Providing a world-class integrated health system and promoting Dubai as a globally recognized destination for healthcare is in line with the vision of the Dubai Health Strategy 2011-2013.

"There are several factors that make Dubai a destination of choice for medical tourism. Dubai has visitors from across the globe coming here for business, exhibitions and conferences, shopping and entertainment or on their annual family holiday. Dubai is well poised to address the healthcare needs of this market as we satisfy the key criteria for healthcare that they're looking for - large number of highly qualified medical professionals, strong private sector health infrastructure, ease of access and the added advantage of multi-lingual skills, given Dubai's diversity.

"Dubai has over 4,750 doctors/physicians speaking over 40 languages. We have amongst the best tourism infrastructure in the world, and we are seeing tourism numbers growing over 10 percent year on year. Dubai has the highest hotel occupancy in the world with the highest revenue per available room. We believe we also have the clinical expertise for certain services that can be further marketed to tourists in Dubai."

In terms of the medical services that Dubai has to offer, Al Jassmi said, "Dubai has a number of leading world-class health facilities that are well equipped for medical tourism. Services could range from cardiac surgeries, such as open heart surgeries and catherization procedures, minimally invasive cardiac procedures for children with congenital heart defects, knee replacement surgeries, reconstructive surgeries for injuries and burns, LASIK procedures, as well as aesthetic, cosmetic and dental procedures along with wellness packages and alternative medicine."

Al Jasmi added that Dubai has internationally accredited hospitals and several renowned specialty centers such the Thalassemia Centre, The Dubai Cord Blood and Research Center, Dubai Gynecology and Fertility Centre, Dubai Genetics Centre, and so on,  while the Private Hospitals and Clinics have various centers of excellence for a number of specialties which are already catering to medical tourists.

She added that Dubai is already a known destination for medical tourism and over the next years the authority expects to see a rise in the number of patients from GCC countries, Middle East North Africa region (MENA), South Asia, Western Europe, Baltic States, Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries and parts of Africa.

Al Jassmi added, "In 2011, Dubai welcomed more than 9.3 million hotel guests, and tourist arrivals are only expected to grow. Health tourism in the city is expected to generate Dhs6.1bn by the end of 2012. Dubai's private sector investment in the healthcare sector has also surged 12 percent to $8 billion in 2010-11.These figures reconfirm the Emirate's growing demand as a medical tourism destination.

"Dubai is already known to be one of the top tourism destinations in the world. Supportive infrastructure for medical tourism exists such as airlines network, hotels, shopping centers and festivals. Moreover, the multicultural social fabric and the absence of language barriers give an opportunity for the growth of this sector. The DHA is further building its healthcare capabilities, policies and regulations to ensure that Dubai enjoys the leading position as a healthcare destination on the global medical tourism map."

Industry News

Medical Lane Expedites Border Waiting Time at Calexico Port of Entry

Kswt.com - Border waiting time for US patients crossing into Mexico to use medical services has been expedited thanks to the new medical lane created next to the SENTRI lane at the Calexico port of entry.

One man said he traveled about four hours to see a Mexicali doctor.

"It's excellent, look at all the time we saved," Jose Antonio Becerra said.
A woman from Indio, Calif., said she travels once a month for medical services, as well.

"It benefits us because the line is long and we don't have to wait that much or waste all our afternoon waiting in line," Jessica Moreno said.

Mexicali's department of tourism officials said about 120,000 people cross into Mexico to use medical services.

They say the lane, which was created recently, aims to boost medical tourism and Mexicali's economy.

To continue reading click here.

Industry News

DotHealth, LLC Applies for .Health New Generic Top Level Domain

Businesswire.com --In support of its mission and vision to establish the .Health new generic top-level domain (gTLD) as a safer and more secure online namespace for global health stakeholders, DotHealth, LLC is pleased to announce it has applied to Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for the exclusive rights to operate the .Health top-level domain registry. DotHealth has the support of health sciences industry organizations throughout the world because of its commitment to providing a safe and secure online namespace, using distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) threat mitigation and compliance monitoring services.

".Health will improve user's ability and confidence to discover, access and utilize health-related information and resources in a trusted and secure environment," says Andy Weissberg, CEO of DotHealth. "With increased adoption of the Internet and its expanded role in strengthening healthcare systems worldwide, we believe that a broad and diverse range of registrants will value .Health as an attractive solution for promoting and delivering their products and services."

To ensure that launch and operations of the .Health registry are aligned with the needs and interests of health stakeholders, DotHealth has secured affirmations of policy support from numerous health sciences industry organizations throughout the world, including: the National Association of Boards of PharmacyThe Inter-American College of Physicians and SurgeonsThe Association of Black CardiologistsThe Regulatory Harmonization Institute and The World Federation of Chiropractic, a non-governmental organization or NGO in official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO). Collectively, these organizations represent the interests of hundreds of thousands of physicians, pharmacists, nurses, complementary and alternative healthcare professionals, insurance providers, hospitals, integrated delivery systems, manufacturers and service providers spanning numerous segments of the global healthcare ecosystem.

"To foster large-scale awareness and global adoption of .Health, should DotHealth achieve delegation as the registry operator by ICANN, DotHealth plans to work proactively with these organizations and others representing the public health and private sector interests of the health and wellness industries," says Weissberg.

To ensure that the .Health gTLD is a safe and secure online environment, DotHealth will use Neustar's DDoS Mitigation Services and established relationships with international law enforcement agencies in order to identify, detect, catalog, and disrupt malicious activities within the .Health namespace, such as phishing, malware distribution, exploit hosting, and botnets.

Furthering its enterprise commitments to safety and security, and to monitor registrant compliance with its Acceptable Use Policies for .Health, DotHealth also has executed an exclusive agreement with LegitScript LLC, to vigilantly monitor the .Health namespace for the illicit promotion or sale of prescription drugs, controlled substances, tainted dietary supplements, ingredients for psychoactive highs, and others which have been validated by regulatory authorities as safety concerns. LegitScript is the only verification and monitoring service for Internet pharmacies recognized by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), the non-profit organization that represents the government agencies that license and regulate pharmacies and pharmacists in the US, Canada, and other jurisdictions.

DotHealth, LLC is backed by two of the most recognized, well respected and successful names in the domain name registry business: Neustar Inc., well known for its highly reliable and secure registry; DNS technology services for .BIZ, .US and several other TLD's and internationalized domain names (IDNs); and Straat Investments, LLC, which provided the initial funding for the launch of the .CO ccTLD which now boasts over 1.5 million registrations.

According to Jose Ignacio Rasco, managing director of Straat Investments, LLC, "As the Internet gets set to expand through new gTLDs, it also will become more specialized for end-users. Based upon the increasing demand for memorable domain names in the health space which are largely unavailable in other TLDs, .Health represents a meaningful opportunity to enable new online channels and health destinations that create value for registrants and their target audiences, and our Company."

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.


Medical Travel Today Publisher Laura Carabello featured opening day speaker


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.

5th Annual Middle East Healthcare Expansion Summit

October 10 & 11, 2012, Abu Dhabi

The Healthcare - IT industry has always been growing, and with the advent of mobile health, telecom leaders have also joined the league. In the Middle East, the healthcare segment is a primary focus area for the IT as well as telecom industry with opportunities in areas such as diagnostics applications, interactive mobile applications, self-care, hospital information systems and integration of IT platforms with mobile health apps.

The 5th Annual Middle East Healthcare Expansion Summit aims at addressing the challenges and opportunities of the healthcare information and communications technology (ICT) industry through a forum of healthcare providers, ICT industry leaders and government representatives who will brainstorm on how to meet challenges and adopt new and upcoming technologies to the healthcare sector in the Middle East.

To register or learn more 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

India's Halal Hospital
Onislam.net - Hoping to boost medical tourism from Muslim countries, Chennai's Global Health Center, in the eastern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, has acquired a halal certificate for its hospital services to assure Muslim patients on the quality of the services offered to them, Two Circles website reported.

Dubai to develop medical tourism initiative 
tradearabia.com - The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has met with private sector organizations Dubai Healthcare City Authority and Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing to discuss and develop a unified medical tourism initiative for the Emirate.

Advanced Healthcare Partners expands globally with medical tourism company
Tampa Bay Business Journal - Advanced Healthcare Partners has collaborated with Henghao Consulting Limited to form a medical tourism company with a focus on cardiovascular surgery.

The Goodness Company Launches Medical Tourism Marketing Website
PR.com - Recognized as global leaders in medical tourism and international healthcare marketing, The Goodness Company, with offices in the US and Latin America, has launched a new website to build awareness of their global medical tourism marketing services. The new website, www.MedicalTourismMarketing.com highlights the company's work in the medical travel market with clients in Costa Rica, Mexico, Colombia, the Bahamas, Nicaragua, Canada, Europe, Asia and the US.

Medical Tourism and Travel: What it Means for Your Hospital
beckershospitalreview.com - Many hospitals and other players in the healthcare industry have been taking careful note of the increasing talk of "medical tourism" and "medical travel," often with an eye on strategic investments related to what is apparently a fast-growing market. With healthcare organizations under pressure to enhance payor mix, and facing tough competition for patients, it is reasonable to ask, "why not bring in distant patients who are willing to travel to receive care?" 

FAQs on ins, outs of medical travel plans
Detroitnews.com - Domestic medical travel is attracting more attention from employers who self-fund their medical plans, meaning they hold the risk and must write checks to health care providers for their employees' care.
Livonia-based Phillips Service Industries Inc. is offering voluntary surgical travel benefits in a bid to increase quality and lower costs. Participating hospitals agree to a negotiated price. Phillips contracts with GCI Global Healthcare Solutions for surgical travel, with GCI receiving a percentage of Phillips' savings.

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.