Can You Capitalize on or Participate in Medical Tourism?

Written by on February 28, 2014 in Practice tips - No comments

Quick!  What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words “Medical Tourism”?

Of course!  You think of Americans going overseas for cosmetic or dental surgery and medical procedures that costs a mere fraction of what it does here in the U.S.A.

You wouldn’t be wrong.  More people seek an enjoyable, affordable and safe alternative to having medical procedures done, especially if they have family outside our borders.

Reasons for rising popularity of travel abroad for medical care include:

  • Ease and cost of international travel (including frequent flyer miles)
  • Documented healthcare safety in certain foreign countries
  • International accreditation of foreign hospitals
  • American and British board certified surgeons operating abroad
  • Escalating improvement in technology and care standards in many countries
  • Insurance coverage not covering expensive dental work like implants
  • Insurance not covering expensive plastic surgery
  • 250 million Americans holding insurance policies with restricted coverage due to pre-existing conditions
  • Touring, shopping and relaxation can be done with recuperation- all for less than the cost of procedures in the U.S.

Medical Tourism Right Here in The U.S. (aka Inbound Medical Tourism)

Researchers at Rush University in Illinois discovered that for every dollar spent by Americans abroad for healthcare, international patients spend $5.64 here within our borders.

Reasons for American healthcare:

  • Long waiting lists for operations in countries practicing socialized medicine
  • Access to treatments unavailable at home
  • Access to quality care with high safety standards
  • International insurance for treatments
  • Special care and attention as a patient
  • Ability to pay from savings for care and travel

They’re coming to see a Doctor…Why not you?

There are many ways to participate in Medical Tourism here at home.

Two primary needs of American physicians in the process:

  1.  Follow-up care of Americans who have returned from their healthcare abroad and now need to be followed by a physician at home or who need further care if any complications ensue
  2. As the primary physician/surgeon performing the desired operation or treatment

Know Your Patient

It is not only important to know about the patient’s expectations so that you can determine if you wish to participate in the process with the specific individual, but also to be familiar medically with the patient.

In much the same way that you are treating your patients currently, there are health issues that need attention:

  • What is the medical and surgical history?
  • Why is the patient seeking care in the U.S.?
  • Where is the patient’s home?
  • Will an interpreter be needed?
  • Will the home physician be available for consultation/discussion?
  • Who will be the patient’s advocate? (Family, friend, professional)
  • Will the patient need a second opinion or medical clearance?
  • Will the patient need transportation to and from the medical facility?

Medical Tourism Association

The Medical Tourism Association Global Headquarters is located in Palm Beach, Florida.

By joining the association, you can avail yourself of the many hospital and physician programs, offering a myriad of options and initiatives including:

  • Enrollment in Training and Certification*
  • Guides to hospital destinations
  • Medical Tourism Management
  • Plan for Establishing a Brand
  • Market Reports
  • Videos
  • Social Network to participate in for answers and support
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Newsletter on the latest activities and news on Medical Tourism

Additionally, the Medical Tourism Association holds conferences throughout the country.

Benefits of Attending the Conference

Attending the event will:

  • Augment your group of international patients
  • Build an international brand
  • Exposing you to International buyers of healthcare, medical facilitators and vendors.

Benefits you can enjoy by getting certified:

  • Increases your patient base
  • Enhances your reputation in your field and community
  • Sets you apart from your colleagues
  • Shows that you have the knowledge and professionalism to manage a specific area of healthcare in the medical tourism program

Once you have joined the Medical Tourism Association and shown your commitment with meeting both professional and educational requirements, patient referrals and leads will be made to you.

Continuing education courses are required to keep certification but also serve to keep you abreast of any new developments or changes within the field.

The association will also advertise you and your practice abroad, further highlighting your name as an expert within your field.

Perhaps you hadn’t thought about Inbound Medical Tourism before. However with more people taking responsibility for their wellness and seeking out outstanding care, maybe Medical tourism is in YOUR future!

By Barbara Hales, M.D.

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