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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's Illegal Hotels

Vancouver Fertility Travel Company Partners with Hawaiian Island IVF Institute

Cosmetic procedures still on the rise

The Ultimate Medical Tourism Marketing Resource You Have Never Heard Of

Professor Marcia Inhorn, Part Two

Sebastian Viramontes

Patient Perspectives

Cosmetic Surgery in Costa Rica: One woman's positive experience with Minerva Journeys

Industry News

Johns Hopkins Medicine International CEO Steven Thompson to Address "Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference"

Saudi follows Dubai's regional health tourism lead

US News & World Report Examines Healthcare in Latin America

Mondial Assistance Supports New Comprehensive Medical Travel Complications Insurance

Global Health Voyager to Offer 24/7 Registered Nurse Phone Consultation and Support to Medical Tourism Patients

Upcoming Events


Exotic Medical Tourism Congress & Expo 2012 

Israeli Trip to Improve Medical Tourism

Costa Rican Medical Tourism Conference in San Jose, Costa Rica April 22-26

Vancouver scores a hat trick in Medical Congress bid wins

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

Hotels Bridging Healthcare Conference Announced


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Global Health Voyager

Volume 6, Issue 7

by Amanda Haar, Editor


In this issue I'm happy to present Part Two of my conversation with Yale University's Marcia Inhorn on the subject of Cross-Border Reproductive Care (CBRC). I, for one, found her insights into the factors shaping and driving the industry to be fascinating. I think you will too. FYI, a link to Part One is included in case you missed it.

This week I also had the opportunity to speak with Sebastian Viramontes of Hospital San José Tec de Monterrey in Mexico. He shared with me how the institution's medical travel efforts have evolved over and time and what they're doing to overcome concerns regarding violence in the region. That interview is also featured below.

Plus, we have our first PATIENT PERSPECTIVE featuring one woman's story of a successful medical travel experience with Minerva Journeys.

Finally, I know many of our readers are packing their bags and heading out to the many conferences and events taking place around the globe in April. We invite you to send us your reports from the field or aisles and let us know what trends or concepts are capturing your attention. But more importantly, safe travels to all.


Amanda Haar, Editor

From the Aisles

Medical Travel Today's publisher Laura Carabello prepares to address the topic of medical travel to international employers at the Institute for Health and Productivity Management Meeting in Orlando, FL.

A report from the show will be featured in an upcoming issue.

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


Professor Marcia Inhorn, Part Two

Marcia C. Inhorn, William K. Lanman, Jr. Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at Yale University

Editor's Note: This is Part Two of a conversation with Marcia Inhorn,aprofessor of Anthropology and International Affairs at Yale University.Inhorn's recent presentation at the Center for Medical Tourism Research Conference in Austin, Texas, Reproductive Tourism: Global Trends, Middle Eastern Perspectives, garnered a lot of attention and praise. Medical Travel Today spoke with Inhorn after the conference to learn more on her studies in the world of Cross-Border Reproductive Care (CBRC) and trends in the reproductive travel industry.

To read Part One of this conversation click here.

MTT: How much do government restrictions on services drive the industry?

MI: It's significant. CBRC is fueled by restricted access to in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection(ICSI), and often to donor gametes. You hear a lot of talk about transnational gestational surrogacy in India, but that's really only a very small part of the total CBRC industry. It's just the part that makes for a good story in the media.

The reality is that most CBRC involves run-of-the-mill infertility issues - for example, older women with poor quality eggs seeking donor eggs. A lot of countries have restrictions on that, especially within the EU. There's a lot of intra-European travel from so-called "restrictive" countries to "permissive" countries for treatment. And it's a challenge for infertile European couples because Europe consists of a real patchwork of permissive and restrictive countries. There's absolutely no legal harmonization to be found.

You know Italy used to be the "Wild West" of European assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). Everything was done there beginning in the early 1980s. Then in 2004, they came down with a law inspired by theVatican that pretty much shut down reproductive services. Again, it didn't keep women or men from seeking ARTs, but rather it spawned a huge outmigration of Italians seeking services abroad. In fact, some Italian doctors simply moved their practices right across the border into permissive countries like Switzerland.

MTT: So religion has a role where services are available?

: Yes and no. In Italy, yes. In Spain, also a Catholic country, no. In fact Spain is very permissive regarding ART. Latin America, too, has a booming IVF industry. And while you might think the Islamic world would be restrictive, it's actually much more permissive than Catholicism toward these technologies. They have a very different view of reproductive bioethics.

In the Muslim world, the majority of the population doesn't accept donor gametes -- but not in all countries. Iran and Lebanon are the two Muslim-majority countries where donor gametes are available. In fact, as early as 2003, there was already a cross-border movement within the Middle East to both of those countries for donor eggs. It's just done with a certain amount of secrecy, but at a good rate of success.

Another interesting and important phenomenon that's influencing treatment destination choices is what I call "return reproductive tourism." Today, we have huge diasporic immigrant communities around the world. When members of these communities want a baby, they often choose to go home. They trust their home country's medical system, where language is not an issue, they're comfortable with the way care is delivered, and they get to be surrounded by family. The Middle East is very advanced scientifically and technologically, and they have highly developed systems for delivering care. It makes perfect sense that someone would come home for access to all that, plus the cultural comfort that comes with being home. Plus, when you're dealing with something as sensitive as making an IVF baby, people want it done in line with their traditions and customs.

So, there is a massive movement of diasporic community members going home for healthcare services.

MTT: There are certainly a lot of factors at play in the industry. Even so, I'm going to ask the impossible question: what might the future hold for CRBC?

MI: I can say with confidence it's a booming industry and will continue to be one for some time to come. Exactly how and where the growth will come from is hard to nail down. Certainly clinics with robust websites are in a position to attract and receive foreign patients. Thailand, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and India are all doing it well.

As scholars, we see CBRC growing, but it's really not well studied. It would be extremely useful if there was an international registry to track the number of "sending" and"receiving" patients. It's unfortunate the data doesn't exist. We know tens of thousands of people travel for ART every year, but we can't prove it.

Nonetheless, it's a huge industry that will continue to grow, especially as the international middle class population grows. Travel for ART is largely a middle class phenomenon. It used to be the elite, but the Web has really leveled the playing field. Middle class people are Internet savvy and actively looking for where to go. Most IVF patients are not rich. They're career-oriented, cost-conscious individuals. This is a big decision on so many levels. They're being very thorough in their decision-making as it is often life and career changing.

The one thing that could really affect the entire future of the industry is the practice of social egg freezing. In the past, they were able to successfully freeze sperm and embryos but never eggs. Now they can. What this means is that middle class women who want to have children, but are in the middle of their careers, can now put their eggs on ice. Basically, eggs are harvested and frozen for later use. With this technology you can quite literally delay your biological clock. You harvest your eggs when you're younger and they're healthy, and put them on ice until you're ready.

Major clinics have already started creating egg banks. If social egg freezing takes off in Western societies, it could eliminate the need to travel out of country for egg donation services, and who knows what else.But even so, CRBC will always happen. The issues of access, quality of care and waiting lists will most certainly keep it alive for the foreseeable future and beyond.

 About Marcia C. Inhorn

Marcia C. Inhorn, Ph.D., MPH, is the William K. Lanman Jr., Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs in the Department of Anthropology and The Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University.She is the current and founding editor of the Journal of Middle East Women's Studies (JMEWS) and has served as director of the Council on Middle East Studies at Yale (2008-2011) and the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Michigan (2004-2006). She is one of seven medical anthropologists in Yale's Department of Anthropology. A specialist on Middle Eastern gender, religion, and health issues, Inhorn has conducted research on the social impact of infertility and assisted reproductive technologies in Egypt, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, and Arab America over the past 25 years.


Sebastian Viramontes

Sebastian Viramontes, Hospital San José Tec de Monterrey

Medical Travel Today (MTT): What is Hospital's history and experience in medical travel?

Sebastian Viramontes (SV): Hospital San Jose Tec de Monterrey is actually a university hospital. It was founded in 1969 and since then has provided care to many people in the community. In 1978 the hospital was granted to the Tec Monterrey System in order to found a school of medicine. At the beginning it was an 80-bed facility. Now we have 200 beds. A significant amount of that growth took place between 2000 and now. We've upgraded our technology to the highest standards - including a DaVinci in the surgery room, a PET CT and a CT Scan in our radiology service, just to name a few. At this point we really have everything needed to provide advanced specialty care.

International patients began coming from other countries in the late 1990s. The noted bariatric surgeon Roberto Rumbaut trained here and performed LAP band and gastric bypasses at the University of Padua in Italy with Dr. Franco Favretti long before US doctors began doing it. As a result, he has a great deal of experience and proficiency, which people seek out. Bariatric surgeries were the first reason people began to come here and today it still is our highest volume procedure.

Most of those foreign patients are Americans. They're from Texas, California, Minnesota, Alaska, really all over. So it's not just a geographic draw.

Plus, now we also see a number of US patients for bone marrow transplants and general surgeries.

MTT: What efforts are you currently undertaking to build this area?

SV: After our success with Dr. Rumbaut in drawing patients in, we began agreements with other physicians. Then, in 2008 we launched our international program in earnest. We received our Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation in March 2008. Simultaneously, we began putting together additional services that we knew were desired by international patients. We also made some internal adjustments -creating translated signage, making sure our physicians were proficient in English, creating an English website, as well as opening an international patient office to facilitate the decision-making and follow-up care.

MTT:Did those efforts result in more patients coming?

SV: Actually our current international patient numbers are lower than they were in 2008. That's largely due to the fact that in 2008, most volume came from bariatric surgery.

Even though we were pioneers in this area, by 2009 and 2010 so many providers in Mexico and Costa Rica, and even in the southern US, began performing more of it at lower prices. We tried for a time to compete on price but then realized that we're a tertiary care facility, and in our structure we have many costs tied to the safety and quality of the services we provide. We simply weren't willing to compromise quality. At that point we went back to focusing on our core strength - providing high-quality specialty care.

So while our volumes of patients are lower, they are now coming for procedures other than bariatrics. The demand now is for procedures of a higher complexity, like robotic prostectomies, bone marrow transplants, oncology care, and so on.

MTT:Where does international patient recruitment now fall on the organization's list of priorities?

SV: It's very important. We receive many patients from outside Monterrey - from South America and the US. Given the fact that we have built this high-specialty facility very close to the one we already have, well, we need more patients.

We recognize that one of our challenges, particularly for US patients, is the perception about security in Mexico. This has been very harmful to us in terms of attracting patients. The ones that come appreciate that we have all the security measures in place. Every logistic is covered - pick up at the airport, all transportation to and from, and so on, is covered. That's part of our strategy.

Now we believe that in the next year the perception of security in Mexico will change. At that time, we expect to launch a very aggressive strategy to make us more visible to US patients. But right now, there's not much upside to be had from a lot of marketing. There's simply too much to overcome.

MTT: I'm curious if your local government is stepping in to help you in any way?

SV: We actually have a number of hospitals in Monterrey that come together to discuss strategies on how best to bring patients in. Government officials also participate with an eye towards the economic benefit of international care in the city. The importance of solving this problem is top of mind for the hospitals and the government.

Editor's Note: FYI, travelmarketreport.com recently featured an interesting piece "Medical Travel to Mexico Stays Healthy, Despite Safety Fears." Click here to read.

MTT: Are you partnering with any facilitators or employers at this time?

SV: Very early on there were a lot of facilitators coming to meet with us and tour our facility with the promise of delivering patients. It didn't take long to realize that it made more sense to work with a few who were willing to showcase our services vis-à-visour competitors. At this point we work principally with three that once in a while send patients. Two are US-based and one is in Monterrey. Most of the patients they bring are from the US. The patients we get from South America mostly come directly to us via our website or through referrals.

MTT: I'm curious, do the reciprocal training programs you have in place contribute to your international patient base in any way?

SV: No, not at this time. Our international collaboration agreements are based on academic exchanges. So it's really the school of medicine program. Students at our school have a chance to go to Johns Hopkins, Baylor or Methodist to further their training. There is a potential that, down the road, it could create opportunities for attracting patients. At this point we're focusing on increasing our clinical affiliations in the area of cardiology.

Beyond that, we are trying to really set a new vision for the way that healthcare is provided in Mexico. Since 2011, we have had a new leader, Guillermo Torre. Guillermo is actually an alumnus of our medical school. He then went on to practice in Houston where he was the director of the heart transplant center at Methodist Hospital in Houston. Last year he returned to Monterrey and is now leading our efforts to elevate quality of care and safety in our institutes and medical centers. A major milestone for us was organizing our doctors into private medical practices within our institutes, including Women's, Rehabilitation, Internal Medicine, Neuroscience, Surgery, and our Research Center. We also launched our Institute of Cardiology and Vascular medicine. We're excited about this as it brings together a group of cardiology doctors who create a plan of care, do reviews and measure outcomes on an individual patient basis.

About Sebastian Viramontes

Sebastian Viramontes is currently the head of the International Program at Hospital San José Tec de Monterrey, where he has been granted the responsibility of running its international department and direction for commercial affairs. Previously he was in charge of executing the trade and investment promotion of Mexican companies in Belgium and Luxemburg at the Embassy of Mexico in Brussels. Prior to this appointment, he was economic advisor of the Undersecretary for Economic Relations and International Cooperation at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Before joining the public sector, he worked as a strategic management analyst for a global textile/chemical conglomerate. He has a B.A. in Economics from the Tecnologico de Monterrey and a Master's in Public Policy with a concentration in quantitative analysis and non-for-profit management from the University of Michigan, Gerald R. Ford School. Mr. Viramontes is fluent in English, Spanish and French. He is married and the proud father of two children.

Patient Perspectives

Cosmetic Surgery in Costa Rica: One woman's positive experience with Minerva Journeys

Farah Walsh
CEO Minerva Journeys

Patient Profile: A 44-year-old computer professional living in Tennessee

Medical Travel Today editors interviewed this individual who chooses to remain anonymous - but we heard her story first-hand. For this article, we will call her Jane Doe.

Jane Doe, a single mother living in Tennessee, was interested in getting a partial facelift, but couldn't afford a fancy price tag, and her insurance does not cover plastic/cosmetic surgery. Jane was thinking about it for a very long time, and finally went to the Internet to explore her options.

She discovered Minerva Journeys and Farah Walsh, who leads the company.

"Actually I thought about doing it in Thailand or another Asian country, but then I discovered Costa Rica," says Jane. "First of all, it is closer to the U.S., and second of all, they speak English and Spanish - and I can understand a little bit of Spanish."

Costa Rica turned out to be less expensive than Thailand - and closer to home. So Jane opted to go last September.

Farah Walsh was a great help to her, every step of the way. They had a few phone calls, and Walsh provided a lot of information.

"Farah provided me some things to do besides surgery, so I could be at the beach and enjoy some activities during my visit," Jane reports.

Jane also visited the renowned Costa Rican rain forest, saw some volcanoes - and even did the Zip Line! All told, she was away for 12 days.

While chatting with other medical tourists at the Recovery Center, Jane realized that some of them did not have a chance to enjoy these activities that Minerva Journeys had integrated into the medical vacation package. Jane Doe even got invited to a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert by a fellow medical traveler, and enjoyed her stay at the Recovery Center.

Jane's experience with the doctor was "first class."

"The people were very nice and it was avery good experience," she reports. "The quality was good."

Doe has not required any medical follow-up care, and is quite pleased with what she sees in the mirror.

"I wasn't expecting dramatic results since it was only the lower part of my face," she says. "People don't see anything, no big changes. That's a good thing - my scars are fading."

Would she go back to Costa Rica again?

"Yes, I think I would," Jane says.

Total Cost: "With all my expenses it was around $5,000."

Toll Free: 1.888.843.7022


Industry News

Johns Hopkins Medicine International CEO Steven Thompson to Address "Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference"

Steven J. Thompson, CEO, Johns Hopkins Medicine International

Steven J. Thompson, M.B.A., chief executive officer for Johns Hopkins Medicine International, will address the constituents at the "Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference 2012." The event will take place on June 20-21, 2012, at The Phoenician luxury resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. (www.well-beingtravelconference.com).

Mr. Thompson was recently appointed by the President to the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. With over 25 years of experience in various positions within academic medicine and academic health centers, he is the founder and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine International. The organization was established as the arm of Johns Hopkins Medicine providing a focus for all international activities. Its purpose is to establish international programs and businesses thatare consistent with and support the Johns Hopkins Medicine mission of excellence in clinical care, research and teaching. Mr. Thompson has a particular interest in identifying innovative ways for Johns Hopkins to collaborate with a wide range of partners to work towards the common objective of improving health and the quality of healthcare delivery around the world.

"Steven Thompson's appointment to the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board demonstrates the value that health-related travel and tourism contributes to the U.S. economy," said Anne Marie Moebes, executive vice president of Well-Being Travel, one of the co-sponsors of the upcoming conference. "Our Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference 2012 is an educational event. But it's also a gathering of thought leaders that will spark innovations and propel the medical and wellness travel industries to new levels of adoption by consumers."

The "Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference 2012" 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 exchanging insights on critical topics with travel providers and travel sellers who have worldwide customer databases.

To find out more about attending the Well-Being and Medical 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).

Industry News

Saudi follows Dubai's regional health tourism lead

Constructionweekonline.com -Saudi Arabia is promoting increased specialization in its hospitals to account for domestic lifestyle factors, private healthcare requirements for expats, and a growing regional demand for top class healthcare facilities.

The emergence of lifestyle-related diseases has created new opportunities for growth, according to the Colliers Q1 2012 'Healthcare Overview.' With sector expertise already established, government investment is providing opportunities for ambitious healthcare projects.

The healthcare budget in Saudi Arabia more than doubled between 2008, when it was $8bn (6.3% of the total budget), and 2011, when it was $18.bn (11.8% of the total budget).

Medical cities are receiving extensive government investment. These facilities have considerable resources for dealing with non-communicable diseases and rare conditions, and act as regional centers of expertise. In December,$114.6m worth of contracts were signed for medical cities.

Other facilities are being developed that specifically target health tourism. In January, HRH Prince Abdulaziz Bin Mishaal Al Saud, CEO of Al Shoula Holding Group, reached an agreement with a Brazilian company to design a luxury female-only healthcare complex.

Industry News

US News & World Report Examines Healthcare in Latin America

Editor's Note:Ostensibly about retiring abroad, a recent piece in US News & World Report offered some insight into a city-sponsored medical tourism program. The featured program, based in Cuenca, Ecuador, provides patients with access to five of the region's top hospitals, as well as discounts for lodging, dining and tourist attractions.

To read the article click

Industry News

Mondial Assistance Supports New Comprehensive Medical Travel Complications Insurance

International Private Medical Insurance Magazine (IPMI.com) - Medical tourism becomes safer for medical tourists with the launch of insurance specifically for people traveling abroad to obtain medical treatment.
"Episodes Medical Travel Insurance offers travelers protection against certain risks of surgery, along with safeguards against medical emergencies, lost luggage and trip delays," says Stephen K. Watkins, CEO of Mondial Assistance (Thailand) Co. Ltd, which is providing in-country support in Thailand. "Episodes coverage is unique, combining standard travel insurance with coverage for complications of plastic surgery, dental treatment and major surgery. Mondial Assistance (Thailand) is based in the world's leading medical destination and we are part of the world's leading travel insurance and assistance company. We are the best company to provide the support that this kind of insurance requires."

Thailand's top hospitals, Bumrungrad International (www.bumrungrad.com) and Bangkok Hospital (www.bangkokhospital.com), Medical Travel Quality Alliance (www.mtqua.org), and Mondial helped with the development of Episodes Medical Travel Insurance to ensure the best possible benefits for medical tourists. Episodes insurance covers medical tourists for complications of surgery and anesthesia, cardiopulmonary events or post-operative complications that may occur during an episode of care even after they return home. Medical tourists may buy complications insurance or complete medical travel coverageexclusively online.
Travel insurance companies typically refuse to provide even standard travel cover to anyone specifically planning to travel overseas for medical care. Other medical travel coverage is limited by a traveler's country of origin or is expensive. Episodes insurance premiums match the savings expected from medical tourism providers. Episodes Medical Travel Insurance is available now to anyone who is traveling to Thailand for medical treatment.

Other medical destinations will be rolled out as demand warrants. The insurance policy is underwritten by a subsidiary of a leading global insurance company and serviced by Mondial Assistance (Thailand) in Bangkok. Register for the live informational online seminar. Mondial Assistance (Thailand) Co. Ltd. (www.mondial-assistance.co.th) has been operating in Thailand since 2000. The company has established a leading position in the Thai market as a service provider to the travel, healthcare and automotive industries. It is part of the Mondial Assistance Group, which operates a worldwide network of 400,000 service providers serving 250 million people on six continents. Mondial Assistance is a member of the Allianz Group.

Industry News

Global Health Voyager to Offer 24/7 Registered Nurse Phone Consultation and Support to Medical Tourism Patients

Global Health Voyager, Inc., a publiclytraded, full-service, international medical tourism company, announced a new round-the-clock nursing support service for its users.

"Our upcoming phone support option will give patients 24-hour access to highly-qualified registered nurses," said Ali Moussavi, CEO of Global Health Voyager. "We match nurses with patients based on their particular ailment or condition. This solution is especially valuable in today's confusing and costly healthcare system. It gives the patient the confidence and peace of mind they need when evaluating health services, scheduling procedures and actually going through with treatments."

The new service is just one of several value-added Global Health Voyager offerings that include:

  • A leading-edge medical tourism smart phone app
  • An HSA (Health Savings Account) cash rewards program
  • Access to cutting-edge medical treatments
  • Advanced surgical care abroad from leading international medical facilities

"All of our services are designed to put power back into the hands of the patient," said Moussavi. "They need affordable, high-quality access to treatment choices, surgery options, aftercare and nursing support."

The new 24-hour nursing support services are scheduled to launch in the second quarter of 2012. The cost structure and tiered support offerings are currently under consideration. Moussavi expects to offer the service to current Global Health Voyager members for a small fee. That fee will be waived for one year if the person schedules a qualifying Global Health Voyager procedure.

Global Health Voyager is a leader in the medical tourism industry. The company guides patients through the process of selecting a foreign medical facility for medical procedures. Many patients are attracted to international medical services because:

  • Specific services are not available in their country
  • Their health insurance does not cover the full cost of the procedures
  • They are unwilling to endanger their health because of high treatment costs in their local country

"Healthcare costs have skyrocketed in recent years," said Moussavi. "However, international travel costs are reasonable, and healthcare technology advancements are now readily available all over the world."

Communication resources and educational opportunities have played a significant role.
As a result, patients can find quality consulting, procedures and aftercare in countries where healthcare costs are lower. "The open flow of education and scientific resources means that more affordable, high-quality healthcare is readily available," said Moussavi.

Upcoming Events

The First Diyarbakir Health Tourism Congress to be held May 11-13, 2012

The I. International Diyarbakir Health Tourism Congress to be held in Diyarbakir will be attended by Ministers, Members of Parliament, public institutions, Chambers of Trade and Commerce and Municipalities, representatives of various hospitals and healthcare organizations and many non-governmental organizations, along with high ranking representatives of the World Health Organization, the European Union, D-8 Countries, Black Sea Economic Cooperation Countries and the Middle East.

Slated speakers and guests include representative of Germany, United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, France, Russia, Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Topics to be addressed include: "The Duties and Responsibilities of Politics in the Development of Diyarbakir's and the Region's Health Tourism Potential" and "Cooperation and Investment in Developing Health Tourism in Diyarbakir and the Region".

Chairwoman of the Middle East Health Tourism Council Surgeon, Dr. Esin Tan stated that with this congress aims to be a first great step towards contributing to regional economic development by increasing the international recognition and the branding of Diyarbakir and regional cities in the field of health tourism.

For detailed information on the subject you can visit: www.orsakon.org

Exotic Medical Tourism Congress & Expo 2012 

The Exotic Medical Tourism Congress & Expo 2012 will be held in the Maldives islands May 7-11, 2012. The Congress is intended to serve as an excellent platform to discuss strategies and trends in the emerging medical tourism sphere, as well as to network in the exotic setting of the Maldives.

The Congress will feature leading healthcare and business professionals, health insurance companies, medical tourism facilitators, international hospitals and medical service providers, law firms, government officials, and associated partners from around the globe to participate, exhibit, and share. To learn more or register click here.

The Institute for HealthCare Consumerism Announces FORUM East 2012 Conference

On April 12-13, HR executives, benefits management professionals, brokers and health plan administrators will gather in Atlanta's Cobb Galleria Centre for The Institute for HealthCare Consumerism's (IHC) FORUM East conference. Its counterpart, IHC FORUM West, will be held in Las Vegas on Sept. 6-7.

Now in its third year, the IHC FORUM (formerly CDHC Solutions FORUM) remains the only conference series 100 percent dedicated to innovative health and benefits management. This year's theme, The Journey to HealthCare Consumerism, focuses on equipping businesses to transition successfully to cost-effective consumer-driven health plans while complying with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

True to the IHC's tagline, the event offers numerous opportunities to LEARN, CONNECT and SHARE.  With 24 workshops and five general sessions led by the industry's foremost thought leaders and policymakers, the event promises to arm attendees with practical tools they need to successfully navigate the country's shifting health and benefits landscape. FORUM attendees also will have the chance to glean best practices from peers who have effectively implemented healthcare consumerism programs, and network with professionals from across the entire health and benefits spectrum.

"Companies today are challenged with reducing healthcare spend, complying with new healthcare laws and turning disengaged employees into involved, well-educated consumers," says Doug Field, IHC founder and CEO. "We've lined up top-notch speakers and workshops to give our attendees proven, real-life solutions at a fraction of the cost of other conferences. We're really excited about this year's FORUM."  

Join us at the only event 100% dedicated to HealthCare Consumerism,
the 3rd Annual IHC FORUM in Atlanta, Georgia on April 12-13, 2012


  • Our conference is on the Cutting Edge of what is going on with Health Care Benefits today - HR Certification Credits available
  • Workshops for All Stages and Phases of where your health benefits are now and where you want to go
  • Consumerism 101 Pre-Conference Workshop for those just learning about health care consumerism
  • Small Round Table Sharing Sessions with your peers and an industry leader
  • Innovation Showcase to see the latest innovations and products that you can use today to save your company money
  • Take-away's you can start using right away to save on your health benefit costs

Registration includes:

Five general sessions led by top industry thought leaders and subject matter experts
• Your choice of three hands-on workshops
• Opening Night reception
Free breakfast and lunch
• Conference workbook
• Online access to all workshop presentations
• Chance to win multiple sponsor prizes


Costa Rican Medical Tourism Conference in San Jose, Costa Rica April 22-26

PROMED, the Council for the International Promotion of Costa Rica Medicine is once again hosting the 3rd Annual Medical Travel Conference in Costa Rican on April 22-26. PROMED is a private not-for-profit organization, which coordinates the quality control and international promotion efforts of the medical tourism industry. Its goal is to ensure the quality of services provided by the private health industry in Costa Rica as the country becomes a major center for global medicine and medical tourism.

The purpose of this conference is to give insurance company executives, employee benefit managers, health underwriters, insurance agents, third-party administrators and other interested parties the opportunity to experience first- hand what the hospitals and physicians of Costa Rica and other Latin American countries have to offer. This conference will generate more than 750 business meetings, and the organizers expect more than 400 participants and 75 exhibitors from throughout Latin America. Top-level healthcare industry speakers, many from the US, will address topics related to the medical tourism industry and healthcare. 

It is an ideal time for employee benefit providers, insurance companies, TPAs, health insurance agents and anyone who is concerned about the rising cost of healthcare to learn about the benefits of medical tourism, especially in nearby Latin America. One of the main ways to bring down healthcare costs in the US is for employers to offer a medical and dental tourism option.

Healthcare costs in the US have exploded in recent years, and costs will continue to grow as more health and dental benefits are cut and the number of doctor's drop out of the system. However, these same procedures are very affordable in Costa Rica. People are saving up to 70% on dental and medical procedures using internationally accredited providers in Costa Rica. Many people and/or employers who have to pay out of pocket do not realize they have other options like medical tourism, which can keep them healthy and save money at the same time. Working with the finest private hospitals and physicians in Costa Rica will help people save hundreds if not thousands of dollars on certain dental and medical care procedures.

"If you're considering medical tourism for your company or for your clients, the Medical Travel Summit in Costa Rica is the only medical tourism conference you need to attend," said Tim Morales of Costa Rican Medical Care. "With many of the providers being centrally located, you will visit as part of the Summit many of the hospitals and dental clinics. You'll have the chance to meet the dentists, doctors and their staffs. You'll really get a feel of the quality of the providers, and you'll be able to interact and ask questions. Many past attendees will be returning for their third trip."

If you would like more information on attending this conference in Costa Rican, please visit their website http://www.costaricanmedicaltourism.com or call 262-834-8199

Vancouver scores a hat trick in Medical Congress bid wins

Tourism Vancouver and the Vancouver Convention Centre have announced that Vancouver has been selected as the host city for three prestigious medical conferences taking place in 2015. 
All three conventions resulted from the leadership and dedication demonstrated by influential Vancouverites who worked with Tourism Vancouver's Be A Host program to bring their associations' meetings to the city. 

The latest batch of successful bid proposals include:

  1. World Congress of Dermatology. The world's largest international gathering of dermatologists will meet in Vancouver in June of 2015.
  2. International Society for Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism (ISCBFM). In late June 2015, approximately 1,000 delegates will travel to Vancouver for the ISCBFM's 26th symposium.
  3. International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) World Congress. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada proposed a bid to host the FIGO World Congress in Vancouver during their 2006 meeting in the city.  

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's Illegal Hotels
theSundaily.com - For the past few years, residents of several private apartment complexes in Penang have encountered thousands of strange "guests" who come and go with their loads of baggage. These people, mostly Indonesians, are part of the relatively new economic wave brought about by what has come to be known as the "medical tourism" draw of Malaysia.

Vancouver Fertility Travel Company Partners with Hawaiian Island IVF Institute
Webwire.com - IVF Vacation Center, a Vancouver, British Columbia, medical tourism company specializing in arranging overseas fertility treatments, announced today that they are now partnering with the Fertility Institute of Hawaii to provide IVF in Hawaii
Cosmetic procedures still on the rise
Femalefirst.co.uk - Despite the current financial climate, the number of cosmetic procedures carried out in the US increased by nearly 9 percent during 2010, according to figures released by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery(ASAPS) this month.

The Ultimate Medical Tourism Marketing Resource You Have Never Heard Of
medicaltourismbusinessnetwork.com - This marketing resource is a dream come true for every medical tourism business owner. For some businesses, this new marketing source brings in more traffic and customers than the big three - Facebook, Twitter and Google+. So what is this new resource which has got all the marketing managers of medical tourism companies so excited?

Leading Online PHR Provider ZweenaHealth.com Promoting Medical Tourism with Health Travel Guides Partnership
Virtualstrategy.com — ZweenaHealth.com, the leading patient portal for creating and managing a fully digital Personal Health Record was selected by Health Travel Guides (HTG), a medical tourism company providing the most comprehensive technology platform for health travel management in 2011 to power its PHR service for consumers seeking health services internationally, and that partnership is yielding results.

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.