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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

FG to ban foreign medical trips

Nature investigates unapproved stem cell clinics in China

Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospitals Teams With Ascension Health Alliance to Build Health City at Grand Cayman Narayana

The Takeaway: New Guide To Medical Tourism Worldwide

Spotlight
Dr. Marc Harrison, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi
Spotlight

Eric Grossman, Senior Partner, Mercer

From the Aisles

A Report from the 3rd Annual Center for Medical Tourism Research Conference

Industry News

The New Yorker and "The Takeaway" Examine the Lure of Healthcare Abroad for Americans

Study Finds Cancer Care Costs Higher in U.S. Than Europe, But Survival Longer - Top Cancer Expert Disagrees

Travelmarketreport: Medical Travel: The Time for Agents is Now

Upcoming Events

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

Exotic Medical Tourism Congress & Expo 2012

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

WELL-BEING TRAVEL CONFERENCE 2012 OPENS REGISTRATION

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Global Health Voyager

THIS WEEK IN MEDICAL TRAVEL TODAY
Volume 6, Issue 8

by Amanda Haar, Editor

Greetings,
 
After a week away for vacation, it was actually interesting to sift through the medical travel news that developed while I was away. The best news was that there really wasn't any bad news to be had. Medical travel continues to garner coverage in a diverse range of media outlets. And acceptance and understanding of the value proposition is as high as I I've ever seen it. It's almost as if we've evolved from that weird cousin at the family picnic that everyone tolerates to actually being a welcomed guest whose contributions to the conversation are finally considered worthwhile.
 
Well, let's just pass the biscuits/kimchee/samosas/kebab/jamon or whatever you're serving and keep it going.
 
We've added a few new listings to our UPCOMING EVENTS section. As always, it's difficult to decipher what's worthwhile and what's the same old same old.
 
If you're up to trying something truly different, consider the Well-Being Conference slated for June in Scottsdale, Ariz. This event creates a meaningful intersection of travel and medical tourism with representatives of both the medical travel professionals and travel sellers. It's a different angle to the usual slate of topics and one worth considering.

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

Amanda Haar, Editor
ahaar@cpronline.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

Spotlight

Dr. Marc Harrison, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi

A. Marc Harrison, M.D., Chief Executive Officer, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi

Editor's Note: One of the key objectives of the Government of Abu Dhabi is to improve quality of care by partnering with world-class organizations and reducing the need for patients to travel abroad for treatment. Scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2013, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD) currently represents one of the world's largest healthcare construction projects. Developed in partnership with Mubadala Healthcare, the 360-bed facility will serve local and international patients in a physician-led model of care that mirrors the care provided at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

Medical Travel Today recently spoke to the CCAD's chief executive officer, Dr. Marc Harrison, to learn more about Cleveland Clinic's decision to open the facility and how it's progressing.

Medical Travel Today (MTT): I read in your bio that you moved from Cleveland to Abu Dhabi to pursue this opportunity. What about it made you willing to move yourself and your family to the other side of the world?

Marc Harrison (MH): You're right. I had a great position in our campus in Cleveland working as the chief medical operations officer and, frankly, I wasn't thinking about a move. However, our CEO is a very persuasive guy. He convinced me to come take a look at what was being done and to get to know some of the key players. And let me say this about Abu Dhabi: It's a very compelling place. The amount of change that has taken place here and continues to take place, along with the quality of people, both nationals and expatriates, is extraordinary. I think right now our staff is made up of 26 or 27 different nationalities. Each brings a perspective and background that's unique and adds to what's being done.

Now, as it turns out, I'm someone who loves change, and I like feeling like I'm part of something big. This effort fits for me in both of those categories. Also, I met
Suhail Mahmood Al Ansari, the executive director of Mubadala Healthcare and, well, I just can't say enough about him...his vision, the intellect he brings to the project. All of that was more than I could say no to. It's really a once in a lifetime experience, and I'm so very glad I'm here.

MTT: How did Cleveland Clinic select Abu Dhabi as a location?

MH: One of the key objectives of the Government of Abu Dhabi is to improve quality of care by partnering with world-class organizations to establish facilities here. Cleveland Clinic was selected as the ideal partner for this specific project. Additionally, the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio has a long-standing relationship with people from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Over time the Clinic's chief executive officer and president, Dr. Delos Cosgrove, developed a relationship with both the business and political leaders, and a conversation evolved from there. Now, the vision is taking shape beautifully and quickly. Personally, I love the building and how it's coming together. I'm particularly excited about the terrific doctors and staff.

MTT: Can you tell us anything about the recruiting effort for staff and physicians?

MH: Yes, but I want to note that the mission of CCAD is, first, to provide the people of the Emirates, and specifically Abu Dhabi, with world-class healthcare at home. We're hoping to create a credible alternative that will allow families to stay closer to home for care. That said, we will undoubtedly attract patients from elsewhere, but our first mission is to serve the community that's here.

One way we're doing that is by recruiting physician leadership from the Cleveland Clinic. In fact, 80 percent of our physician leadership is from the main campus. When we open, we'll have 175 doctors on staff, half of whom will be from the United States. Most will be from the Cleveland Clinic or have been trained there. The rest will come from other countries with impeccable medical training and care. The physician-led approach to care is really integral to the care delivered.

Our chief of staff, Tomislav Mihaljevic, is the world's best robotic heart surgeon. He's now recruited the best minimally invasive coronary thoracic surgeon to come on board. What we'll be able to offer when we open is really unmatched, and certainly unseen before, in this region. In the past, citizens of the UAE were traveling to North America or Europe for that kind of treatment. That type of travel simply won't be needed in the future.

MTT: The appeal to residents is obvious. What are your plans, if any, for recruiting international patients?

MH: We plan on replicating the same model used at our main campus. There, 90 percent of our patients come from Ohio and the contiguous states. But we do have a large number of patients coming to us from abroad.

In order to facilitate that same type of international patient draw, we're looking to promote first the quality of care and, second, how easy it is to reach us here. I didn't know this before but it turns out Abu Dhabi has more direct flights to other national capitals than any other city in the world. Getting here is simply not a challenge.

Once they're here, we're working to make sure they have the amenities desired. We're actually physically connected to the Rosewood Hotel, a five-star accommodation for patients and their families. And the city itself is really very chic. It's pedestrian-friendly and very cosmopolitan.

MTT: What's the expectation in terms of the types of patient care needs?

MH: Care will be focused around our five different institutes: digestive disease, eye, heart and vascular, neurological, respiratory, and critical care.

A long time ago the Cleveland Clinic recognized they couldn't be all things to all people, and instead decided to do what they did with depth and excellence. That's exactly what we'll be doing here. There's no reason the model shouldn't work just as well here as it does in the States.

In terms of the international patient base, I suspect we'll see some patients from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC -- BahrainKuwaitOmanQatarSaudi Arabia, and so on) because of the ease of travel related to proximity and flexible visa regulations. This will be a real opportunity for people from the Middle East to get culturally competent care and clinically excellent care. The Cleveland Clinic has developed a number of best practices that we fully intend to "steal" and implement here.

MTT: Does that mean you won't be doing anything differently?

EH: There are a few things we'll be improving. Our IT system will be unique. We'll be using the cloud model for IT support. And the use of CarePATH and order sets is also more sophisticated. There are a number of less glamorous operational things we're changing or building to improve upon old methods and models, but the care delivery model will stay the same.

MTT: So there's a lot of leveraging of existing systems and identity?

EH: Yes, we're leveraging systems and identity, but we're also bringing the culture. There are many institutions that have taken forays abroad, bringing small numbers of people from the home culture but not really seeking to replicate the model. That's where we're different. This isn't an offshoot of the Cleveland Clinic. This IS the Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi.

I can't express enough what an honor it is to have this opportunity. It's not often that people get the chance to do something that's disruptive but in a positive fashion. But we've been given that chance. We're going to make things better for the people who live here. We don't take that lightly. The goal is to leave things better than we found them, and we spend a lot of time thinking about how to help the Emirates build their healthcare structure to be the best in the world. If I do my job right, eventually the person who sits in this chair will be an Emirati. In my opinion, that would be the ultimate success.

About A. Marc Harrison, M.D.

Marc Harrison, M.D., MMM, FAAP, FCCM, is Chief Executive Officer of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. Dr. Harrison joined the staff of the Children's Hospital at the Cleveland Clinic in 1999, where he served as Medical Director of the PICU (2001-2004) and Chairman of the Department of Pediatric Critical Care (2004-2006). Dr. Harrison also served as Cleveland Clinic's Associate Chief of Staff (2006-2009), Director of Medical Operations (2006-2009), and Chief Medical Operations Officer (2009-2011). Dr. Harrison is particularly interested in using business principles to facilitate clinical outcomes, safety, quality, operational excellence, system integration, and strategic growth.
  
Dr. Harrison grew Medical Operations from a team of six to more than 1,700 people and includes pharmacy, surgical operations, hospital operations, business intelligence, continuous improvement, critical care transport, systems optimization, among other functional areas.
 
He was also responsible for streamlining the hospital transfer process, creating a variety of clinical services, including Cleveland Clinic critical care transport and medical emergency teams, and re-vamping the day-to-day operations of many aspects of patient care. In conjunction with Finance, he has led the Cleveland Clinic's business intelligence enterprise into a model considered the gold standard for the healthcare industry. The team sought to "Serve Patients, Optimize Operations, Drive Innovation."
 
Dr. Harrison received a B.A. from Haverford College in 1986, a medical degree from Dartmouth Medical School in 1990, and a master's in Medical Management from Carnegie Mellon University in 2007. Dr. Harrison trained in Pediatrics and Pediatric Critical Care at the University of Utah. Dr. Harrison is a Fellow of both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Society of Critical Care Medicine.

Spotlight

Eric Grossman, Senior Partner, Mercer

Eric Grossman, Senior Partner, Mercer

Editor's Note: Medical Travel Today recently featured news of the Johns Hopkins-PepsiCo deal. In an effort to better understand the future of medical travel for employer groups, we decided to connect with Mercer, the organization responsible for bringing some of the largest employers and providers together. We're grateful to Eric Grossman, senior partner at Mercer, for sharing with us how these relationships came together and what future partnerships might - or might not - look like.

Medical Travel Today (MTT): How do the Lowe's/Cleveland Clinic and PepsiCo/Johns Hopkins partnerships compare?

Eric Grossman (EG): The deals are pretty comparable at the highest level. They're similar in terms of the procedures covered, methodology of payment, and the number of eligible members.

While both focus on cardiac procedures, PepsiCo added complex joint procedures, specifically revisions of hip and knee replacements - but only revisions.

MTT: Why is that?

EG: Revisions are much more complex than first-time replacements. Both programs could offer first-time replacements, but the issue is that there are many places that do that really well. That puts the whole value proposition into question. Why put someone on a plane for something that they can get within 50 miles?

MTT: Do you think either might expand coverage offerings in the future?

EG: There is potential to add certain types of spinal surgery. And we might look at first-time knees and hips, but I think that approach will be a regional one. It just makes more sense.

MTT: Is it possible to declare either of these programs a success just yet?

EG: In the case of Lowe's, which has been up and running for two years, the answer is absolutely yes. They've had a meaningful number of people flow through the program, the clinical results have been extremely strong, and member satisfaction is through the roof. I mean at levels you don't see in the world of healthcare. Plus, it's been a really big employee-relations win for Lowe's. Think about the message: "You're willing to pay for me to go to one of the best places in world for my healthcare needs." That's a really powerful statement.

In the case of PepsiCo, it's way too new to say anything credible.

MTT: Do you have a sense of how the programs have been promoted internally? Did they use similar approaches?

EG: Lowe's has the benefit of the program being in place for a couple of years. Their employee awareness is very high thanks to periodic reminders and announcements. This type of program requires regular communication. A one-off mention just won't cut it. Of course PepsiCo doesn't have that kind of communication history yet just because it's so new but even so, there's a good flow of inquiries and people are already in the process of preparing to travel to Johns Hopkins.

MTT: I'm curious. What types of procedures are seeing the most action?

EG: In the case of Johns Hopkins, the inquiries are pretty balanced between both cardio and the joint surgeries. Ultimately, we expect a higher volume of cardio procedures simply because joint revisions are pretty uncommon.

MTT: What's your sense of employer interest in the medical travel option, and are their expectations realistic?

EG: We have a number of employers in the process, a few of whom will be launching in the next couple of months, some a little later.

But overall, we don't expect a large uptake of this for two key reasons.

First, programs like this, at least today, are really only for VERY large employers. It's purely about prevalence. Let's say you have a smaller employer. They might have two employees who might travel to Cleveland Clinic for heart procedures. You have to question whether entering into a contract is worth it. You need the scale to drive volume. Also, on the surface a partnership like this sounds easy, but it's really not. There are contractual relationships to work out, administrative procedures to put in place, communication issues to be dealt with and then refreshed, and the program needs to fit in with the overall employee offering.

I think these types of programs will be restricted to large employers. And the number may be in the dozens, but it won't be in the hundreds.

The second reason is that, for the most part, large employers have medical care covered with big carriers which all have centers of excellence. Some have centers in the area of heart and orthopedics. Those that don't are developing them. For many employers those programs fit the bill. There are lots of hospitals in the carrier's networks across the country so there's very little travel involved.

MTT: In your opinion, where does the greatest potential lie for these types of programs? Is it domestic or foreign? Condition specific?

EG: Domestic. Without any question. We work with a LOT of employers across the full spectrum - from small fully-insured organizations to the jumbos with hundreds of thousands of employees.

If you go back three or four years, international medical travel surgery was all the rage. I don't mean people were doing it, but it was a very hot area of discussion. The few companies that did it didn't achieve much. At this point if international medical travel is a topic of discussion, it's far down on the list, if it's there at all. On the flipside, domestic medical travel is a hot topic.

MTT: Are there other trends or aspects of care that people should take note of?

EG: One thing that comes up quite frequently is the idea of negotiated, bundled episodic payments. This is the structure used in both the Lowe's and PepsiCo deal. It's very clean and attractive in that there are no individual bills that read like a great American novel.
With the bundled structure you can basically say to the employer that pays most, or all, of the bill, "A valve replacement costs $X" All-in, period.

This is very different than the way reimbursement works in pretty much every other area of healthcare.

This is proving to be very attractive to employers and to many hospitals. It's the leading edge of where we expect to see a movement in the future.

MTT: What's the appeal?

EG: On a smaller scale than major and very expensive procedures, the ability to bundle charges and payments supports accountability from providers and transparency for employers and patients.

If you need a medical procedure, whether something relatively simple like a colonoscopy or something complex like a cardiac bypass graft, you can see the cost and what your portion of the cost share is. It's that clean. It's much, much easier for members than having them look at the cost of surgery, the hospital, labs, anesthesia, and so on.

Honestly, if you ask the typical person to put together all those pieces, well, forget it. But if you give them an all-in estimate, they can put their arms around it. They understand it.
There is a lot of movement towards this approach. And not just for surgeries. There's definitely movement around longer-term episodes related to chronic conditions, too. It's an area to watch.

About Eric Grossman
Eric Grossman is a Senior Partner in Mercer's Health and Benefits business. He is an expert in the strategic development, design, financing and management of healthcare and group benefit programs. Eric has contributed to employer innovation in health and cost management, including the measurement and evaluation of provider performance, and the application of performance metrics to yield advantages for plan sponsors and their plan members.

Eric consults with major employers on a broad range of strategic benefits issues. He is the U.S. innovation leader for Mercer Health and Benefits.

Eric has over 30 years of experience in the benefits business, including over 20 years with Mercer. He has been a frequent speaker at regional and national forums on employee benefit issues and has contributed to a variety of studies and surveys on corporate benefit practices.

Eric received a B.A in Mathematics and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries.

From the Aisles

A Report from the 3rd Annual Center for Medical Tourism Research Conference

Prepared by Christine A. Sandoval, University of the Incarnate Word, Undergraduate Student

The 3rd Annual Center for Medical Tourism Research (CMTR) Conference took place Feb. 13-15, 2012, in San Antonio, Texas.

This year's conference featured associate professor Dr. Tricia Johnson from Rush University, who served as the keynote speaker. Johnson's presentation focused on inbound travel to the United States. Data suggests that both inbound and outbound health travel decreased in 2009. Now that there are more hospitals in the U.S. that cater to international patients, the cases appear to be more complex and there is higher profit from treating international patients. "For every dollar spent by Americans on healthcare abroad, $5.64 is spent by international patients within the U.S."

Assistant professor of Law Nathan Cortez from Southern Methodist University (SMU) was also a featured speaker. Cortez spoke about the legal risks of cross-border healthcare. His presentations included why medical tourism patients should care about the legal aspects, the patients' rights to sue overseas, and what can be done as rights coming from the private sector and public sector.

Professor of Anthropology Dr. Marcia Inhorn also served as a guest speaker. Inhorn's topic of discussion was on reproductive tourism, which focused on infertility in the Middle East. Her presentation included the usage of in vitro fertilization (IVF), bio-ethical dilemmas, religious views, adoptive processes, and the commercial market for "sex cells."

Perhaps one of the most anticipated sessions at the conference was the presentation by Ph.D. candidate Elliott Bowen from Binghamton University. Bowen's presentation entitled, "Making the 'Mecca of the American Syphilitic' Medical Tourism, Syphilis, and Hot Springs, Arkansas, 1890-1930," focused on how medical tourism is not a new and controversial topic. His presentation explained how Hot Springs, Ark., served as the go-to health resort for those in search of the cure for syphilis. Patients who went for treatment didn't have to conceal their disease or be ashamed. Instead, they found medical wisdom.

Being a student, it was an amazing opportunity to be able to be in the presence of many professionals in the medical tourism industry, and to be able to learn all the new cutting-edge information.

According to director/founder of the Center for Medical Tourism Research, Dr. David G. Vequist IV, if you're considering attending next year's conference be ready to travel to Germany.

To learn more about the Center for Medical Tourism Research click here.

 

Industry News

The New Yorker and "The Takeaway" Examine the Lure of Healthcare Abroad for Americans

Editor's Note: The April 16 issue of The New Yorker featured an interesting piece by staff writer James Surowiecki, called "Club Med." In it, Surowiecki explores not just the phenomena of medical travel, including impressive numbers for inbound travel to Thailand, Malaysia, and South Korea, but also the potential for even greater growth thanks to the ailing American healthcare system.

Surowiecki elaborated on his views on the potential for medical travel on the radio talk show "The Takeaway." Surowiecki and Paul Vehorn, a radio host, behavioral psychologist and experienced medical traveler, discussed the rise of medical tourism with host Kristen Meinzer.

To read the story from The New Yorker, click here.

To hear the interview on "The Takeaway," click here.

Industry News

Study Finds Cancer Care Costs Higher in U.S. Than Europe, But Survival Longer - Top Cancer Expert Disagrees

Editor's Note: HealthDay.com recently featured an article regarding a debate over a study on the actual cost of cancer care in the United States. Led by Tomas Philipson, the chair in Public Policy at theUniversity of Chicago, the study looked at cancer care in the United States and in 10 European countries from 1983 to 1999. Investigators found that for most cancers, U.S. patients lived longer than Europeans, with Americans living an average of 11.1 years after diagnosis while Europeans survived an average 9.3 years. Based on the data gathered, Philipson argues the dollar value of care provided in the United States is greater than that in Europe.

However, Dr. Otis Brawley, the chief medical officer and executive vice president at the American Cancer Society, does not agree, noting "this paper has a huge fatal flaw in it."

To read the complete story, click here.

Industry News

Travelmarketreport: Medical Travel: The Time for Agents is Now

Josef Woodman

by Maria Lenhart, travelmarketreport.com -
News articles about medical tourism often focus on the exotic - patients traveling to India for invasive heart surgery and the like. But for travel agents, the best opportunities in this burgeoning market are far less complex and much closer to home.

"Agents should focus on the non-critical health traveler," including travel for diagnostic procedures, exams or dentistry, advised medical travel expert Josef Woodman, publisher of Patients Beyond Borders.

Woodman, a featured speaker at the Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference, will examine medical tourism's most-promising opportunities for travel agents in his presentation. 

Too big to ignore
He will also discuss how and why medical tourism is evolving into a market too big for agents to ignore.

With an aging Baby Boomer population that has a vested interest in finding affordable medical and anti-aging procedures, demographics bode well for medical travel, he said. 

So too does the phenomenal growth of accredited healthcare infrastructure serving medical travelers in destinations around the world. 

These are just a few of the reasons why Woodman believes travel agents have a lot to gain by attending the Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference 2012, which takes place June 20-21 at the Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Is there a type of medical client that agents should focus on?
Woodman: The likely candidate is not someone going to India for a serious procedure like a heart bypass. We really try to dispel this notion. 

Agents should focus on the non-critical health traveler, people traveling to have testing or extensive physical exams, MRIs or light dentistry. 

People, especially if they are uninsured or have high deductible plans, are finding they can save a lot of money on these procedures. They save enough to pay for the trip and get a vacation out of it. 

For instance, an MRI that costs $2,300 in the U.S. can be had in Mexico for $500. Any kind of blood work or testing is much less overseas. 

At the conference, I will be discussing some of the procedures that are most conducive for medical travel - procedures where there is a short recovery time and a predictable outcome.

Do you think that most medical travel business for agents will be international or domestic?  
Woodman: Both. However, agents would be well-advised to focus on the short-haul traveler, rather than the stereotypically exotic traveling patient portrayed in the media.

Are a growing number of hospitals in the U.S. targeting travelers, including domestic travelers?
Woodman: Yes. The whole hospital landscape is changing. Hospitals are growing more specialized, so people who need a certain procedure are more likely to travel to a specialty facility such as a cancer treatment center that is beyond their backyard. 

The good news for agents is that they don't need to have a lot of expertise to handle this kind of travel. These specialty hospitals market to travelers and are used to handling the traveling patient. They can handle the medical side. 

The agent can defer all the medical questions to the treating hospital and focus on the travel piece.

Is medical travel a particularly profitable niche? 
Woodman: It can be, with focus, and as medical travel packages become commonplace. 

Medical travel is widely acknowledged to be high-ticket when procedure costs and longer stays are factored in.  Also, medical travelers tend to bring companions, who have separate travel and tourism needs. 

How are destinations and infrastructure making it conducive for travel agents to get involved with medical travel?  
Woodman: With Mexico and the Caribbean on the rise as medical and health travel destinations, agents can now offer more options to medical travelers. 

In addition, hospitals and clinics are becoming savvier about marketing their services, including discounted packages and bundled offers with hotels and airlines.  Increasingly, agents don't need to be highly-trained specialists to participate.

Will we see a growing number of destinations pursuing medical travel?  
Woodman: Yes. The market is growing in terms of the number of destinations offering high quality healthcare.  

For example, five years ago Mexico had no hospitals that were JCI-accredited. (JCI, the Joint Commission International, accredits hospitals in the U.S. and overseas.) Mexico was known chiefly as a 'border destination' for dentistry and cosmetic surgery. 

Today there are nine JCI-accredited hospitals in Mexico, along with several large new multi-specialty facilities, offering new options for the North American short-haul traveler. 

Can U.S. consumers feel confident about the quality of overseas facilities geared for medical travel?
Woodman: There are now over 500 non-U.S. hospitals that are accredited by JCI, which also accredits hospitals in the U.S. So you are getting the same standard of care abroad as at home. In 2004, there were only 27 JCI-accredited hospitals outside the U.S. 

About the Conference
Agents can learn more about the opportunities in medical travel by attending the Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference, June 20-21, 2012, at the Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Co-sponsored by Travel Market Report and Well-Being Travel, the conference will provide in-depth education for agents about all aspects of selling to and servicing medical travelers, including how to tap the market.

Registration for agents is $199.

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.


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.


WELL-BEING TRAVEL CONFERENCE 2012 OPENS REGISTRATION

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

FG to ban foreign medical trips
vanguardngr.com - The federal government is to ban public officers from traveling abroad for medical treatment, the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, told journalists, in Abuja yesterday.

He said that Nigerians traveling abroad for medical treatment is not acceptable and that he is preparing a memo for the Federal Executive council (FEC), which will stop public officers from wasting public funds on foreign medical trips.

Nature investigates unapproved stem cell clinics in China

scopeblog.stanford.edu - ...Organizations using stem cells must register their research and clinical activities, the source of the stem cells and ethical procedures. The ministry asked local health authorities to halt any unapproved clinical use of stem cells in their regions. And it called for a nationwide moratorium on new clinical trials for stem cell therapies, adding that patients in existing clinical trials should not be charged.

Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospitals Teams With Ascension Health Alliance to Build Health City at Grand Cayman NarayanaHrudayalaya Hospitals of India has entered into a partnership with Ascension Health Alliance of the United States to bring innovative healthcare services to the Cayman Islands.

Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospitals (NH) is led by chairman and managing director Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty, a world-renowned cardiovascular surgeon with extensive experience in providing high-quality/low-cost healthcare at medical facilities in India. Ascension Health Alliance is a Catholic healthcare organization dedicated to the transformation of healthcare through excellent clinical care throughout the continuum and through innovation. Its subsidiaries include Ascension Health, the United States' largest Catholic and largest nonprofit health system.

The Takeaway: New Guide To Medical Tourism Worldwide
aarp.org — Traveling4Health & Retirement (THR) has just launched an interactive online map of overseas medical resources, including places for “medical tourism“—traveling to foreign countries specifically for lower-cost medical care. With the ever-increasing costs of U.S. healthcare, it’s a practice more Americans have been embracing in recent years.

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.