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© 2011 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

Medical Tourism: Will you be paying in cash, credit or airline miles?

35% Growth for Outbound Healthcare Tourism Expected in 2012

First PRC medical tourist group to arrive on Feb. 13, 2012

Could new top level domains provide funding for tourism organizations?

Qatar Sheiks Opt for Medical Treatment in Bulgaria

Top cities for hospital care not where you think

NCPA's John Goodman Health Policy Blog Focuses on Domestic Medical Travel


Farrah Walsh, Minerva Journeys


Dr. Neilesh Patel, HealthSouk, Part One


Israel Shows How Health Care Is Going Global

Editor's Note

Savoring the Possibilities of Medical Travel Technology Options

Industry News

Healthcare Futurist David Ellis and J. Edson Pontes, M.D., Explore Medical Tourism: Promise or Peril?

TTI Announces Launch of "Welcoming the World"

A Look At How Health Reform Is Driving Doctors Out Of Business

Ahmadinejad Stresses Iran's Growing Medical Tourism Industry

Bahama's 'Reverse Medical Tourism'

Handbook of Medical Tourism Program Development: Developing Globally Integrated Health Systems Now Available

Upcoming Events

3rd International Forum "Healthy Nation 2012" Ukraine Slated for February 15-17, 2012, in Kiev

The 3rd Annual International Medical Travel Conference

2012 Global Healthcare and Medical Tourism Conference: ‘Global Connected Care & 3rd MediTour Expo' Slated for May 6-8, 2012

EMTC 2012 Slated for April 25-27, 2012

Hotels Bridging Healthcare Conference Announced


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Global Health Voyager

Volume 6, Issue 2

by Amanda Haar, Editor


Innovating the innovative. That seems to be what much of medical travel is about these days: introducing new ideas to an already innovative approach to healthcare.

In this week's SPOTLIGHT we feature HealthSouk, an online marketplace for dental services where dentists can actually manage fees on a minute-by-minute basis to remain competitive and attract new patients.

We're also pleased to share a conversation with Farrah Walsh, founder of Minerva Journeys, a medical travel provider who goes beyond connecting patients with care but also offers meaningful recovery solutions. It's a refreshing approach that's capturing the interest (and business) of patients from around the globe.

Plus, this week's news features stories of a doctor in the Bahamas and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadineja paying closer attention to where their citizens are traveling for procedures and what they need to do to lure non-citizens to their country for care.

Perhaps they'll find a few ideas in this week's SPOTLIGHTs.

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


Amanda Haar, Editor

Attention Medical Travel Facilitators

Medical Travel Today is compiling a story on the changing roles of medical travel facilitators.
If you and your colleagues are interested in being featured in this story, please be in touch!

We are looking for:

  • Innovative platforms to generate patient inquiry volume
  • New capabilities that distinguish your organization
  • Opportunities to interface with US-based businesses and employers
  • Ways to partner with international medical travel companies

To be considered, please send an email with ‘Facilitator’ Story in the subject line to: editor@medicaltraveltoday.com

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


Farrah Walsh, Minerva Journeys, Part One


Farrah Walsh
Minerva Journeys

Editor's Note: When you conduct as many interviews as I have related to medical travel, you end up discovering many of the reasons that drive people to join the industry. There are those in pursuit of the pure business and financial opportunity. There are the tech people who like being at the front edge of innovation. There are the doctors and employers seeking to provide affordable care. And then there are people like Farrah Walsh whose motivation comes from personal experience and is driven straight from the heart.

Farrah Walsh is the founder of Minerva Journeys, a medical travel company that might be more appropriately described as a recovery and discovery company. I'll let the interview serve to explain why.

Medical Travel Today (MTT): Let's start with your background and what inspired you to start Minerva Journeys?

Farrah Walsh (FW): My background is in clinical research and drug development. I worked for a number of years in this industry, and am currently working with a large consulting firm involving two large clinical trials. So while I have a scientific background in developing medicine, it was a life-changing personal experience that brought me to medical travel.

I was involved in a very serious car accident in which I broke my neck and herniated two discs. As a result, I was paralyzed. The first option was surgery, but I wanted to try physical therapy at first. Unfortunately, my insurance company, which would have covered a very expensive surgery, didn't want to pay for my rehabilitation after a six-month period even though I was making great progress. And so I was stuck managing my own care, deciphering my options, finding providers, and so on. It was based on that experience that I decided there needed to be a company that would help people figure out how they can take charge of their own healthcare when their insurance company won't provide support.

Minerva Journeys was born because a large portion of my healing took place in Costa Rica. Not only is Costa Rica a warm and welcoming country, it has world-class care, and, for me and many others, an environment that invites relaxation, introspection and healing well beyond the body. I wanted to share that experience and create a virtual resource where people in need could confidently research international hospitals and recovery centers while also having knowledgeable people to get them quotes, resumes for doctors, recommend good hospitals and places to stay for recovery, all within context of their budget. I knew from personal experience that trying to tackle each of those things is an enormous burden and effort - especially when you're operating from a point of need and not at your normal mental or physical capacity. So to have a resource to turn to, well, to me that's a dream come true for those in need.

And the experience here truly matches the expectation and need. Here you can surround yourself with natural beauty for a few days in advance, do a cleansing if necessary, and get your procedure done by competent and caring hands. Then after, the recovery is so different from that in the States. Here, for as little as $85 per day, you can stay at a center with full-time nursing, someone to drive you to appointments, three meals a day, many on-site therapies, and truly personalized attention. Short of living with a family member who can give up their job or life to care for you, it's very hard to find this kind of care -- the kind of stress-free care that lets you truly focus on healing and not worry about details and dollars.

Jungle canopy zipline is an exciting side tour option

MTT: What was the timeframe for conception and launch?

FW: When I first conceived of the idea, I knew I needed to do some serious research and determine the right, qualified resources. I spent several years doing that. It all came together in 2010. That same year, I attended a medical travel conference and created contracts and partnerships there. In March 2011, I launched the website www.minervajourneys.com .

MTT: By some estimates, you're a late starter to the industry. How has that served or hurt you?

FW: I think waiting till 2010 was a good idea. Not only for my research needs but because the acceptance and understanding of medical travel has come a long way in the past few years. There are still a lot of people who don't know or understand the concept, but people are always positive and open to hearing about it.

The lack of understanding is both an obstacle and an opportunity. How best do you reach out to the masses and let them know the option exists? And that it's not a little tin shack in a third world country?The challenge is to overcome that misperception with a story of great care, private rooms, affordable prices, fantastic surgeons, physical therapy in your room, and so on. It's a great story.

MTT: What facilities do you work with in Costa Rica?

We work with six different centers of care, all of which are JCI-accredited, with ambulatory centers that are US-accredited.

Plus, we work with several US-accredited clinics for dental surgery and care. This is an exciting area for the type of savings we can offer consumers. Quite literally a porcelain cap that might cost you $3,000 in the US only cost $300 in Costa Rica. So even with a flight and a little travel, if you like, you're still quite a bit ahead of the game.

The Operating Room of Dental Cosmetics Costa Rica

As for care, we're currently expanding our reach a bit. We've partnered with facilitators on Guatemala and Thailand, and will add India to our list of options in 2012. Also, we currently offer leading stem cell therapies in El Salvador for many severe autoimmune diseases - Crohn's Disease, Lupus, Hodgkin's Lymphomas, Type 1 Diabetes, which affects so many children. China is offering an exciting all-inclusive package (hotel, tours, plane tickets and more) for stem cell rejuvenation therapy, a new approach to anti-aging and replacing hormone therapy.

This year, we will be adding leading US Centers to our offerings as an option for people from the US and abroad. We recognize that the US still has some of the brightest and best medical doctors and researchers in the world. People are already travelling within the US to specialty centers like the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, or the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins and many more. Right now, we're looking to create those partnerships so that American centers are a part of the medical tourism movement, and not losing from it. It is also interesting to note that costs for a procedure such as heart surgery can vary about $40,000 depending on if you got it at UCLA in Los Angles or the Mayo Clinic, both leading centers in cardiology. When people are faced with a life threatening medical situation, they are already turning to Wikipedia to learn more about their condition. We are here to help them find the right center, setup travel and accommodations, and let them know about price savings even if they have health insurance since this all affects their co-pays - for the patient and their employer.

Part Two of this interview will be featured in Issue 3

About Farrah Walsh
The founder of Minerva Journeys Farrah Walsh has an extensive background in healthcare. Her experience includes working as a clinical research associate and as a contract CRA & program manager of medical operations for several major pharmaceutical companies. She has lived in India, Costa Rica and the United States and is fluent in six languages.

Farrah can be reached at either: fwalsh@minervajourneys.com or reservations@minervajourneys.com


Dr. Neilesh Patel, HealthSouk, Part One

Dr. Neilesh Patel, Strategic Director, HealthSouk


Editor's Note:The founder of HealthCare Volunteer and HealthCare Tourism International (now-defunct), Neilesh Patel has a long-standing interest in global healthcare. He recently stepped firmly back into the medical industry with the launch of HealthSouk, an online marketplace for dental services.

Medical Travel Today had the opportunity to speak with him regarding his re-entry into the industry and vision for HealthSouk.

Medical Travel Today (MTT): Let's start with the obvious question: why now? What makes you so confident that now is a good time to launch HealthSouk?

Neilesh Patel (NP): I've been watching the healthcare industry for several years. It's been very interesting to watch the industry develop, change, develop again, and change again. I think that there's now a level of understanding and knowledge among consumers that makes selling medical services significantly easier. I really think at this point it's got viability, especially on the dentistry side.

In the US alone, people spend $42.5 billion in cash on dentistry. That's a figure well ahead of any other type of cash-paid procedure. That's a lot of money in a tough economic time. And people are working hard to make their money go further. In countries like Brazil, dental insurance products have only penetrated about nine percent of the population. So with a growing Middle Class in countries such as India and Brazil, a marketplace could prove to have extraordinary reach because consumers already pay cash for dental services.

When I was in practice in Las Vegas, I overheard a patient negotiating for a better price on a needed procedure in the clinic. It was the first time I'd heard that kind of haggling in a dental practice with an office manager. It actually reminded me of being back in a souk or marketplace. That was the real light bulb moment for me. For the first time, it was clear that, at this point, people are willing to negotiate for what they need. Four out of ten Americans claim that cost is the number one problem in healthcare today. They want the care, but it has to be affordable. And the truth that no one realizes is that90 percent of dentists are willing to move their price according to market demands. In fact, dentists already do this.

Given that negotiation is an option, and that I am a dentist and have a firm handle on the ins and outs of global care, now seemed like a very good time to bring consumers as many options as possible in a "market style" format. That led to the concept of a souk, an open-air market where consumers can shop for dental services.

MTT:That sounds somewhat easy to pull together...

NP:No, no it wasn't easy. We have been working on this for over a year now and have pulled countless all-nighters trying to get it right.

And the reason it wasn't easy was that we took the time to do everything up front, including working with the industry and dentists.

One of the biggest challenges revolved around the codes for different dental procedures, which are one of the biggest challenges in medical travel. As it relates to dentistry, the US has ADA - CDT codes, but most other countries use ICD9 codes. We built on those and created new codes for things like a snap-on smile that simply didn't have codes.

In addition, we created packages that bundle procedures together. Let's say you're someone who hasn't been to the dentist in a number of years, when you go for that first routine exam, without question you're also going to need a set of x-rays. Our packages tie those items together. So exams with x-rays, root canals with crowns...it just makes sense.

MTT:But how does a patient actually know what they need?

NP: The idea is you go to your local dentist and get a diagnosis or treatment plan, and probably a quote. You then load your personalized treatment plan into our system. Our system takes into consideration the specifics of each person's needs. For example, you may need a root canal but a root canal on a back tooth is far more difficult, and expensive, than one done on a front tooth.

With HealthSouk, you can get pricing and options from providers in your area or across the country specific to your condition. You might think prices for a root canal wouldn't vary much, but a root canal done in Beverly Hills can be three to four times as much as one done only 100 miles away. And when you're talking big procedures and large treatment plans, you're talking big money. HealthSouk helps you find those savings.

We realize that dentists all have different opinions and diagnoses. Uploading your treatment plan into our system can be changed multiple times, so even if you get multiple opinions, you can update your treatment plan online at any time. Healthsouk also offers a second opinion service for a set $5 fee, so any patient can get a second opinion on either their treatment plan or a diagnosis made for them.

Part Two of this interview will be featured in Issue 3

About Neilesh Patel
Dr. Neilesh Patel is the Founder of HealthSouk, a software engineer and a U.S.-based practicing dentist. At age 17, he founded StudentsHelp.org Consulting, the world's largest student-run volunteer computer consulting organization, which ultimately served millions of people and non-profits worldwide. From 1997-2002, Mr. Patel worked at over a dozen technology companies such as Netscape (acquired by AOL Time Warner) and OnePage (acquired by Sybase). From 2002-2004, Mr. Patel worked in regulatory affairs at Medtronic Inc. He currently has several medical device patents pending with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). He has been featured on CNN and in several dozen print publications, including Financial Times, New York Times, S.F. Examiner and The Columbus Dispatch.


Israel Shows How Health Care Is Going Global

By Gregory W. Moore, Esq., Healthcare Practice Group Leader, Clark Hill PLC

Gregory W. Moore, Esq.

It may be one of the smallest countries in the world in terms of its land area. But, when it comes to healthcare technology and medical tourism, Israel is becoming a major hotspot.

I had the pleasure of visiting Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem and surrounding communities in late September. As an attorney specializing in forming global healthcare partnerships, I made time for this trip to investigate the Israeli healthcare system and visit various facilities looking to expand their international patient base.

Naren Balasubramaniam, President and Chief Executive Officer of GCI Global Healthcare Solutions, LLC, accompanied me on the trip. GCI is a Farmington Hills, Michigan-based company offering self-insured employers 21st Century solutions to raising healthcare costs. Our hosts for the trip were Geoff Moss, Vice President of Business Development at PlanetHospital, and Danny Pavell, Vice President of Marketing for MTI Medical Tourism Israel. PlanetHospital is one of the original and the largest medical travel companies in the world. Their US office is based in Calabasas, Calif., and they focus primarily upon retail medical travel.

The trend is clear - more and more Americans are considering medical value travel. A Deloitte study for 2012 shows the number of Americans traveling outside the United States for medical care is estimated to be 1.6 million. Israel has an opportunity to capitalize on that trend.

The Ella Institute for Treatment and Research of Melanoma and Skin Cancer, located within The Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer in Israel, is currently offering cutting-edge treatment for metastatic melanoma, which is not offered anywhere else in the world, except for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, Maryland. Certain cellular immunotherapy developed at the NCI Laboratories has been successfully implemented at the Sheba Medical Center since 2004. Specifically, The Ella Institute at Sheba is the only place in the world - other than the NIC - where Adoptive Cell Therapy with Autologous Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes (TIL) is being performed.

NCI has rather strict admission criteria for its TIL protocol. The advantage being that if one is admitted, the treatment is paid in full by the US taxpayers. But, where is one left if they are a borderline candidate with Stage 4 metastatic melanoma who is rejected by the NCI? It just so happens that I have a close friend in this precise predicament. One can imagine my surprise as I was sitting in a presentation at the Sheba Medical Center when they began talking about the TIL protocol and the success they were having with it. I was texting my friend immediately and began efforts to have him admitted to the TIL protocol at the Ella Institute.

While in Israel, our group visited:

  • the Sheba Medical Center, which is part of The Hospital of Israel
  • The Assuta Hospital, located in Tel-Aviv and part of a leading private hospital network, as well as the largest surgical center in Israel, performing approximately 90,000 surgeries and procedures annually, including 5,000 heart catheterization procedures and 5,000 IVF treatment cycles
  • the Herzliya Medical Center, a private luxury hospital right on the Mediterranean coast
  • Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Zerifin, an 850-bed facility with 21 state-of-the-art operating rooms and cardiac and respiratory intensive care units featuring state-of-the-art equipment

My work in the global healthcare space has taken me to hospitals and medical centers all around the globe. I do not recall ever having a consistent jaw-dropping reaction when entering facility after facility in a country. The physical structures and their contents were impressive, all the way from the advanced technologies and equipment to the layout and patient flow of each facility to the warmth of patient rooms and the quality cuisine. Aside from the physical plant of each, I was overwhelmed by the readily available statistics regarding outcomes and quality indicators. Playing in the international healthcare space, one must market outcomes and quality indicators above even price. The Israel healthcare community gets it. 

All in all, I left Israel with memories of a pleasant cultural experience and the impression of a world leader in biotechnology and medical R&D that offers innovative medical advancements and outstanding healthcare standards at a fraction of the cost. While statistics regarding the volume of international patients and the procedures being performed where not readily available, each institution pointed to a high volume of international patients in their IVF programs - attributable to the pricing structure and success rates - orthopedic surgery programs, cancer treatment programs, as well as cardiac intervention programs.

Israel is in many ways leading the pack among countries looking to develop medical travel as an industry. If you are in need of treatment, or if you are looking to establish a partnership to grow your business, Israel is certainly worthy of your consideration.

About Gregory W. Moore
Gregory W. Moore is a Member at Clark Hill PLC and leader of the firm's Healthcare Practice Group. He has focused his career on representing and counseling healthcare providers, ranging in size from sole physician offices to some of the largest physician practice groups and hospital systems in the United States. He specializes is developing global partnerships among healthcare providers, governments and business entities. Greg can be reached at gmoore@clarkhill.com. For more information, visit www.clarkhill.com.

Editor's Note

Savoring the Possibilities of Medical Travel Technology Options

Salted caramel ice cream. Jumbo lump crabcakes. Duck-fat French fries. These are just a few of the reasons I recently spent far too much time on dishtip.com.

Self-described as "a sophisticated food discovery application that analyzes millions of reviews, photos and related content across the Web to help you find the best dishes at restaurants" Dish Tip is a nifty little app for anyone traveling in a new city or looking to satisfy a specific craving in their own backyard. For example, (and I promise this relates to medical travel eventually), if you're in Baltimore (maybe a PepsiCo employee getting care) and you just have to have something as specific as cilantro, Dish Tip will drill down and find you the top dishes in the Baltimore area with cilantro as a key ingredient. Beyond ingredients, it also searches by courses, flavors, cuisines and prices. Plus, you can exclude what you don't want (i.e. coconut or meat or Mexican).

So as I sat drooling at all the food options available to me, I was struck by the notion that a similar granular search is what's needed in medical travel.

Similar to choosing a restaurant, there are certain parameters to consumer healthcare selection.

For example, an individual knows they need their hip replaced. They know they aren't a candidate for a particular device. They know how much they have to spend. They know they want JCI-accredited. They know they don't want to travel more than 'x' miles from home. They know they need rehabilitation services after. And so on...

So why not a similar application that searches and sorts their options online? You think about it while I go get something to eat.

Industry News

Healthcare Futurist David Ellis and J. Edson Pontes, M.D., Explore Medical Tourism: Promise or Peril?

Editor's Note: In a recent issue of Hospital & Health Networks Daily (hhnmag.com)
futurist, author and consultant David Ellis and urologist J. Edson Ponte, M.D., examine the impact of medical travel of US-based hospitals and offer a look at some of the options to prevent further loss of international and American patients.

To view the entire article click here.

Industry News

Patients Beyond Borders® and Medeguide™ Form Strategic Alliance

Partnership creates one-stop shop for international
healthcare consumers in search of safe, affordable medical care

Text Box:  Chapel Hill, N.C., US, and Bangkok, Thailand -Patients Beyond Borders®, the world's leading source of consumer and industry information about international health travel, and Medeguide™, the world's leading online international doctor directory, have formed a strategic alliance to provide patients with robust search tools for global healthcare options, and to provide hospitals and health travel third parties with a unique offering of branding and marketing tools for the international patient.

Patients Beyond Borders and Medeguide will exchange their information and services, allowing patients everywhere to search hundreds of leading international hospitals and thousands of the world's best doctors throughout Asia, Latin America, Europe and the US by specialty, procedure, region and cost. Healthcare providers and networks can take advantage of a wide offering of marketing and branding tools tailored to maximize international visibility through online, mobile and light device apps, video, social communications and traditional publishing channels.

"Merging our respective product lines will create a comprehensive program for those ready to take their international marketing campaign to the next level, and will create a win-win for healthcare consumers seeking reliable healthcare information," says Ruben Toral, CEO and founder of Medeguide.

"Access to trusted, vetted information is key to millions of patients worldwide who are seeking quality and cost options, whether across town or across oceans," says Josef Woodman, CEO of Patients Beyond Borders. "Our alliance is a big step toward connecting leading international hospitals and doctors to healthcare consumers in this currently underserved global marketplace."

Industry News

MTTI Announces Launch of "Welcoming the World"

Medical Tourism Training Inc. has announced the first-of-its-kind on-line and on-site program, "Welcoming the World: Building an Outstanding International Patient Department." Created by its team of internationally recognized healthcare and training experts, "Welcoming the World" is a fully scalable and flexible package for both new and established International Patient Departments.

Providers small and large will benefit from the training, systems, forms and structure of this uniquely designed offering. "Welcoming the World" is perfect for dental and medical providers from single offices to multi-hospital chains which serve domestic and international patients from outside their usual service areas. With a focus on the customer experience, the program offers practical and detailed information about staffing, department infrastructure, forms and systems, billing and financial issues, and concierge services.

According to Pam Frank, former Director of International Health Services at Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, "We focused on the basic information dental and medical care providers need to build or improve services for patients coming from different countries or regions. These valuable clients and their family members notice every detail from arrival to departure, plus they serve as word-of-mouth advertising, both good and bad. To succeed, healthcare providers must deliver a patient experience that is better than their competitors. The comprehensive, yet flexible design of "Welcoming the World" ensures the competitive edge for our clients."

The affordable on-line course gives users the option to study at their own pace, in the comfort of home or office. With a running time of more than five hours plus, knowledge checks and reviewing sample documents, it is a complete "Do It Yourself" kit. Clients can take advantage of adding additional support with essay questions, including expert feedback, or by purchasing online consulting services to answer specific questions.
Medical Tourism Training, Inc. offers stand-alone consulting services in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic for clients who want the company's team of experts to provide services on-site to build or improve patient services. These options appeal to health and wellness providers of every size and for every budget.

Elizabeth Ziemba, President of Medical Tourism Training, offers words of advice for clients new to online study in her article, "Tips to Maximize the Investment in On-line Learning," saying, "Setting goals, scheduling time and sharing the information with co-workers contribute to improved learning, sharing content and implementing what is learned. Turning individualized learning into team work generates the most value for employees and employers."

To register for courses or to get more information about training and consulting services, visit www.MedicalTourismTraining.com today.

Industry News

A Look At How Health Reform Is Driving Doctors Out Of Business

Businessinsider.com-American doctors are facing a financial crisis. 
According to Parija Kavilanz of CNN Money, physicians blame "shrinking insurance reimbursements, changing regulations, and rising business and drug costs" for their recent financial troubles. 

As private practices become victims of healthcare reform and Medicare and Medicaid cuts, many doctors are being forced to shut their doors.  

To continue reading click here.

Industry News

Ahmadinejad Stresses Iran's Growing Medical Tourism Industry

Farnews.com - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stressed Iran's high capabilities in medical fields, and added that many people from around the world now choose Iran for receiving medical treatment.

Addressing a conference on medical research here in Tehran on Tuesday (1/17), Ahmadineja said that 30,000 people come to Iran each year to receive medical treatment...

To continue reading click here.

Industry News

Bahama's 'Reverse Medical Tourism'

Tribune242.com - Bahamians pump millions of dollars each year into the South Florida's medical tourism sector, a leading doctor told Tribune Business yesterday, adding that this nation provides the largest international client base for several hospitals in the area.

Dr. Brown said: "Medical tourism will be a benefit because of our proximity to the United States, even though Bahamians tend to be some of the biggest reverse medical tourists. I use the term guardedly because a medical tourist travels specifically for health care, and who does that more than Bahamians?

"We travel to South Florida, and we deposit millions of dollars into the South Florida economy each year. The insurance companies do likewise, paying for millions of dollars of services in the South Florida economy and elsewhere in the US for a number of services that can, quite frankly, be done in the Bahamas - although not all of them but quite a few of them."

To continue reading click here.

Industry News

Handbook of Medical Tourism Program Development: Developing Globally Integrated Health Systems Now Available

Denver, Colorado USA - The recently published Handbook of Medical Tourism Program Development: Developing Globally Integrated Health Systems, authored by Dr. Maria K. Todd, Lisa Beichl, MBA, and Tracy Simmons,offers government ministries, hoteliers, spa owners and medical tourism provider networks with tips and techniques for succeeding in the industry.

Opening with a foreword penned by Keith Pollard of IMTJ, the volume invites readers to learn more about the techniques of globally integrated healthcare delivery, ways to improve provider skill sets, technology, infrastructure, communications, quality, safety and get new marketing ideas.

Published by CRC/Productivity Press, a division of Taylor and Francis, the book is available on amazon.com via this link.

Industry News

The Clinic Finder is now completely free.

Following The Clinic Finder's global launch the site is now completely free. From 1 January 2012 they no longer charge introduction fees. Clinics are also listed in their medical tourism section absolutely free. They have also reduced the prices of their Enhanced Listings.
David Nicholls, Managing Director and one of the founders of The Clinic Finder, said:
"We are committed to bringing our clinics new patients in the most cost effective manner we can, especially in these testing times. Our growth is strongly linked to the number of clinics on the site, and we see this move as an important step in reducing any possible barriers to entry. Free sign up, no introduction fees and free medical tourism listing are powerful features. There really is no reason not to get listed. We recognize that 2012 will be at the very least a challenging time for healthcare professionals, and we hope this helps them.
"Don't get us wrong, we haven't turned into a charity, but understand that growth for all parties depends upon a solid base for our clinics, our searchers and us. The more clinics we have, the more chance there is that patients will find what they are looking for. That improves our reputation and encourages more clinics in. It's great news for everyone.
"We are attracting more and more clinics from all over the world and we will soon have our 750,000th search, which is phenomenal from a standing start in April."
To find out more, go to: http://www.theclinicfinder.com

Upcoming Events

3rd International Forum "Healthy Nation 2012" Ukraine Slated for February 15-17, 2012, in Kiev

Text Box:

The 3rd International Forum "Healthy Nation 2012" Ukraine will take place in Kiev February 15-17, 2012.

Designed to introduce and showcase state-of-the-art approaches to healthcare delivery, healthy living, longevity, nutrition and fitness, the Forum consists of specialized trade fairs, seminars and conferences, master classes, and presentations divided into three areas: "Line of Life," "Quality of Life" and "Tempo of Life," and features the following exhibitions:

"Line of Life" -- Medical equipment, supplies, drugs, dentistry, maternity, transfusion, prevention, rehabilitation, plastic surgery, cosmetology, and SPA technology and equipment
"Quality of Life" -- Organic foods and beverages, renewable energy, ecology, insurance, medical and wellness tourism
"Tempo of Life" -- Aquatics, sport and fitness

Also taking place at the event is the Global Congress"Dent Life" Ukraine which brings together respected specialists and speakers from Ukraine and around the world. The exhibition will feature recognized producers of dental materials and equipment. Master classes will also be offered.

Additional Congresses being offered include:
"Aesthetic Life" Ukraine 2012 Congress
 "Tour Life" Ukraine 2012 Congress

"Healthy Nation" Ukraine 2011 was attended by more than 10,000 visitors, including top managers of medical companies, distributors, representatives of profile Ministries and Associations, government authorities, doctors representing private and government clinics and hospitals, SPA specialists, private clinic owners, SPA clubs, resorts and hotels, fitness centers, scientific research institutes, travel agencies, and consumers interested in treatment and health improvement abroad.

If you are interested in developing and growing your business in Ukraine, The 3rd International Forum "Healthy Nation 2012" Ukraine provides an ideal starting point and networking opportunity. For more information visit our website www.treex.com.ua/en.

The 3rd Annual International Medical Travel Conference


The 3rd Annual International Medical Travel Conference will be held on April 23rd-25th 2012. This year's host hotel will be the beautiful five-star Inter-Continental Hotel located in Escazu, just outside San Jose, Costa Rica.

This Medical Travel Conference in Costa Rica offers an excellent opportunity for insurance company executives, employee benefit managers, health underwriters, insurance agents, third-party administrators, and anyone interested in medical or dental travel to experience first hand what the hospitals, dental clinics and physicians of Costa Rica and other Latin American countries have to offer. The past conferences have developed many new business opportunities with foreign buyers searching for quality dental and medical care at affordable prices.

The International Medical Travel Conference is sponsored by The Council for International Promotion of Costa Rica Medicine (PROMED) and the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (ICT). Massimo Manzi, Executive Director of PROMED, stated, "Costa Rica is proud to host the 3rd International Medical Travel Conference, and this event has grown every year. We expect more than 500 people to attend this year and we have upgraded the location using the five star Inter-Continental Hotel."

"If you're considering Medical Tourism for yourself, your company or your clients, the Medical Travel Conference in Costa Rica is the only Medical Tourism conference you need to attend," said Tim Morales of Costa Rican Medical Tourism. "After the short flight to Costa Rica, you will visit the hospitals and dental clinics and meet the dentists, doctors and their staffs. You need to see, feel and touch the quality of care Costa Rica offers for yourself. This is something you cannot experience in a convention hall in the states."

There is special early bird pricing for the first 20 people who sign up for this event. This savings opportunity is limited, and early enrollment is encouraged.

2012 Global Healthcare and Medical Tourism Conference: ‘Global Connected Care & 3rd MediTour Expo' Slated for May 6-8, 2012

MediTour Expo announced its 2012 Global Healthcare and Medical Tourism Conference: "Global Connected Care & 3rd MediTour Expo," will be held May 6-8, 2012, at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

This two-day conference will feature specialized topics on the globalization of healthcare. Leading technology and healthcare professionals will come together to present and discuss new global healthcare strategies, the latest trends in telemedicine and technology applications as well as insurance and quality issues. The conference will showcase presentations by some of global healthcare's most influential leaders including Dr. Jay Sanders, M.D., FACP, FACAAI, president and CEO of the Global Telemedicine Group, adjunct professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and founding board member and president emeritus of the American Telemedicine Association. Expecting to draw delegates from all around the world, this event is a must for those looking to increase contacts in the international healthcare industry.

The conference will also offer exhibit halls, discussion panels and workshops and numerous networking opportunities throughout.

According to Ian Jacobs, CEO of MediTour Expo and Arlen Meyers, M.D., MBA, president of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, this conference will provide education, business opportunities and a networking forum for the global healthcare and medical tourism Industry while identifying and removing barriers to adoption and diffusion. 

Below are some of the event's highlights:

  • Global Physician Referral Networks and Patient Care - How to Build a Global Practice 

  • Self-Funded Insurance Groups -- Providing Healthcare Travel Alternatives

  • M-health, Telemedicine and Electronic Healthcare Information Platforms

  • Business Processes and Advanced Global Healthcare Marketing Strategies

  • Integrating Global Healthcare Technologies with Medical Travel  

  • Legal Issues in Global Care

  • Workshops in Global Practice Management, Insurance Reimbursement & Payment, Business Processes, and Legal & Regulatory issues in Global Care

  • Private meeting rooms for business meetings

For information and registration, visit http://meditourexpo.net. For sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities, email: Joanne@meditourexpo.net.

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.


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 19-21, 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.

An early bird registration rate will be available through January 31, 2012. 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).


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

Medical Tourism: Will you be paying in cash, credit or airline miles?
Walletblog.com - While renting the Hangover II is probably the closest most of us have come to visiting Thailand recently, thousands of people from the United States visit the country each year for a variety of reasons, which, interestingly enough, include the increasingly popular trend of medical tourism.

35% Growth for Outbound Healthcare Tourism Expected in 2012
Travel Market Report-Increased sophistication of medical tourism operations, demand for cosmetic surgery, and access to low-cost global transportation are cited by Deloitte as the major factors for growth. The firm also forecast that inbound medical travel will experience ...

First PRC medical tourist group to arrive on Feb. 13, 2012
taipeitimes.com - The first application for Chinese seeking medical treatment in Taiwan was submitted to immigration officials yesterday, one day after the new initiative took effect.

The application was filed by Taipei-based Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital, which is expecting to receive a 26-member group from Liaoning Province, the National Immigration Agency said.

Could new top level domains provide funding for tourism organizations?
Tnooz.com - As we enter a brave new world of top-level domain names (TLDs), brought about by the recent approval and registration process from ICANN, what are the opportunities for DMOs and CVBs?

Qatar Sheiks Opt for Medical Treatment in Bulgaria
Bulgarian doctors will treat sheiks from Qatar. It is not, though, that Bulgarian doctors are lured to work in the rich Arab emirates, but just the opposite - wealthy people from Qatar will be treated in Bulgarian hospitals. In March Bulgarian Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism will organize an investment forum in Qatar to present Bulgaria as a propitious destination for investments in food processing industry and medical tourism.

Top cities for hospital care not where you think
Fiercehealth.com - A new list from HealthGrades indicates that the best quality hospital care occurs at some smaller cities that beat out major cities, with Baltimore ranking as number one in the nation. 

NCPA's John Goodman Health Policy Blog Focuses on Domestic Medical Travel
Editor's Note: Culling from a recent article on healthcare for the affluent from The New York Times , the NCPA's John Goodman has created an interesting blog post that may be of interest. To access it, click here.

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.