Category Archives: Medical Tourism

MedVoy’s Blog related to medical tourism industry and its offerings towards medical travel

The Doctors View of Medical Facilitators

One of the major barriers to expansion of medical tourism on a mass scale is the willingness of doctors to participate in the process. There are several things getting in the way:

1. With a shortage of physicians in the US, doctors are busy enough. The are eager to shift their payor mixes from low reimbursment to higher paying patients, but , with the exception of doctors starting practice, they don’t need more patients that might be a headache.

2. Doctors are used to a doctor-to-doctor referral model, not a patient- to- facilitator to institution model. They will continue to push back until there is a comfortable global healthcare referral platform.

3. Doctors are suspect about the value offered by facilitators. Unless they see a tangible return on investment, they are unlikely to engage intermediaries who they see as non-medical professional trying to skim revenue from an industry that is overhyped.

Medical travel is in the early stages of its life cycle. One of the tipping points will be when providers have confidence in the system and the business model.

Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA

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Chat with MedVoy

The MedVoy website now has chat functionality enabled. Patients can now chat in real time with an expert which allows patients’ questions to be answered immediately and to deliver high quality customer service.

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Success factors for inbound US medical travel destinations

Several US based hospitals and provider organizations are looking for answers when it comes to how to attract inbound, non-US patients to their facilities and providers. In some instances, for example, as much as 1.5-2.0% of gross revenue can originate from inbound medical travelers, many of which pay for care with cash.

Here are some success factors to consider when building an inbound medical travel unit:
1. Tight referral networks to non-US physicians
2. Hospital infrastructure dedicated to inbound patients
3. A physician staff willing and able to accomodate the needs of inbound patients
4. Travel and hospitality destinations that are attractive to inbound patients
5. Non-hospital travel services that are user friendly-airport, customs, visas, etc
6. Profitable product and service offerings
7. Telehealth and telemedicine connections for pre and post care
8. Accomodations for insurance, cash or other revenue cycle management
9. Strong sales and marketing functions
10. Easy to get to
11.Package pricing with transparency
12.Quality metrics with transparency

Consider this “doctor’s dozen” when trying to attract foreign patients. Experience indicates that successfully accomodating non-US patients requires a substantial modification of existing policies and procedures.

Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA

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New Medvoy Website

Thanks for joining us at Medvoy on our new website. Medvoy is a physician led, doctor to doctor globally integrated referral platform. Our goal is to provide our professional community of members with tools they need to remove the barriers to global care.

In addition, we have created a global care social network at . Please join us there for free.

Thanks for joining us. Please send your comments and suggestions to

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How to make money investing in the medical travel industry

By now, you’ve heard all the hype about the potential growth of the medical travel industry and how US patients are fleeing the country to get affordable care. Unfortunately, the experts agree, that there are few reliable statistics about the size and growth of the market, there are no common definitions of a medical traveler, comparisons of revenues and costs are hard to make, and there remain persistent, nagging barriers to widespread adoption by patients, payers and physicians.

That said, investors are still clinging to the promise of big returns fueled by patients losing their health benefits because of high unemployment, the aging population requiring more units of care and exploding costs of healthcare. If you think the medical travel industry is set to explode, there are some areas of investment to consider:

Foreign Healthcare infrastructure

  • Hospitals and systems
    Ambulatory surgery centers
    Clinical labs and imaging centers
    Disease specific treatment facilities like cancer centers, stem cell centers, etc
  • Foreign Travel and hospitality infrastructure

  • Hotels and Surgical Hotels
    Airport development

  • Tools and support companies

  • Players in global healthcare information exchange
    Data analytics and business intelligence
    Quality, price and value determinations
    Companies offering alternative pricing mechanisms

  • Supporting global healthcare insurance and travel products

  • Trip cancellation
    Follow up care
    Emergency evacuation
    Professional liability
    Infectious disease management
    Geopolitical risk insurance
  • Firms in the medical travel supply chain

  • Travel medicine clinics
    Medical travel facilitators and specialty travel agents
    Medical concierge ground operators
    Currency exchange risk managers

  • Expatriate retirement health cities and communities

    Like other industry sectors, gold, for example, you can invest in the product itself, the people who create the product, or investments that pools risks, like mutual funds or exchange traded funds.

    Look for companies in markets where the supply of care does not meet the demands of a growing middle class, that provide products and services delivering low, cost high volume care, and that provide platforms and infrastructure designed to reduce transaction costs for billing and collecting and value-based information.

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    SURGICAL HOTELS: An Emerging Opportunity

    With more and more patients seeking care away from home, there is an opportunity for the hotel and hospitality industry to offer customized services to patients recovering from surgery and treatments and their companions. Neither a hospital nor a hotel, a surgical hotel is a place designed to provide a level of care below that required in a hospital, but yet accommodates the healing needs of patients in a comfortable environment.

    So, what does a surgical hotel offer?

    How does a hotel providing services to a postoperative patients and their companions provide value and differentiate themselves?

    A surgical hotel, part hospital-part hotel, would offer the following:

    1. location convenient to healthcare facilities
    2. transportation to facilities/airport/other
    3. availability of emergency medical care
    4. amenities
    5. sensitivity to the needs of specific postop patients; connected rooms.
    6. things to do for companions
    7. information and communication technology links with providers
    8. alternative/complementary services for postop patient
    9. security
    10. privacy/confidentiality in check in and exits
    11. disability accommodations in architecture, transportation vehicles
    12. medical concierge
    13. accommodate in-room stay by nurse or companion
    14. availability of equipment to take vital signs by medical professional
    15. availability of wound management supplies
    16. online medical education and postop care resources
    17. nutrition counselor, special dietary restrictions
    18. evacuation preferences
    19. brand awareness and snob appeal
    20. new design for bedding and furniture?
    21. allergy free environment
    22. medication reminder system (part of automatic wake-up call system?)
    23. mini-kitchen facilities
    24. real time patient feedback and request system
    25. panic button
    26. prevention of nosocomial (need a new word for hotel acquired) infections
    27. modified housekeeping schedule
    28. separate parking a minimal distance to room
    29. wheelchair management
    30. quiet
    31. bathroom amenities (antibacterial soap, hand lotion, etc)
    32. antibacterial surfaces on furniture
    33. billing and collecting interface with medical insurance ?
    34. disposable cell phones for companions
    35. pet accommodations?

    The global medical travel industry in rapidly growing and expected to reach $1B by 2012. Developers and the hospitality industry have an opportunity to participate and profit by offering differentiated, value added services to patients and their family members and companions that accompany them for care away from home.

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    Smile Makeover

    Smile Makeovers

    You may have heard the term “smile makeover” or “smile design” recently, but what exactly does that mean?
    A smile makeover uses a variety of cosmetic dentistry techniques to achieve that elusive perfect smile that we see on the likes of celebrity and models. The techniques would vary depending on what you need – be it missing teeth, broken or deformed teeth, tooth discoloration and more. Some of the following techniques could include:
    Dental Implants

    Dental implants replace any missing teeth. The implant base is fused into the jaw and then a natural looking crown is fitted on top. Crowns and bridges are often placed on top of dental implants.

    Teeth Whitening

    Age, illness and lifestyle choices (such a drinking coffee/ tea / red wine) can stain your teeth over time. Teeth whitening will lighten your teeth to your desired color

    Porcelain Veneers

    Porcelain veneers are paper-thin, custom made porcelain shells that are bonded onto the front and side surfaces of your tooth

    Inlays and Onlays
    Usually made of porcelain, inlays and onlays are matched to your tooth color to provide a durable and stain resistant surface

    Cosmetic Re-contouring

    Cosmetic re-contouring reshapes the gumline and may lengthen or improve the look of teeth that appear smaller due to gum tissue overgrowth.

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    Medical Travel is Maturing but Patients are Still Confused

    The medical travel industry is maturing.  Researchers have created centers to study it, like the Center for Medical Tourism Research at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas ( ) and doctors have created organizations to professionalize it , like the International Board of Medicine and Surgery ( ). Conferences, seminars and trade associations are sprouting up all over the world and medical travel bloggers litter the medical tourism landscape.

    Despite it’s growth, I think patients are still confused  about the multiple products and services that all seem to be the same. If you are considering offering medical travel benefits to your employees or are  considering leaving home for care, here are three questions you should ask  that might help you separate the wheat from the chaff.

    Who do you get connected to?

    The traditional referral model is your doctor, someone you trust,  refers you to another doctor for  specialty care or consultation. In most instances in medical tourism, however,  a facilitator or other intermediary  connects you  to a hospital or ground agent partner in another country who connects you to a doctor on the medical staff of the overseas hospital. All those steps can be confusing, add middle-man costs, and create opportunities for errors.

    How do you establish some kind of relationship with the consultant before leaving home?

    Since it is impractical for you to see your foreign consultant preoperatively face to face, take advantage of facilitators, like Medvoy, that can help connect you to your doctor using telemedicine communications technologies.

    What’s the difference between one facilitator and the other?

    As the market matures, industry players are creating ways to differentiate themselves and break from the rest of the pack. In general, facilitators compete on price, access, service, experience and their product. Just as Hermes sells quality, Wal-Mart competes on price and Nordstrom’s is know for service. Decide what’s most important to you and pick a facilitator that will deliver.

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    New Year – New You

    Happy New Year! The New Year symbolizes a time of renewal as we reflect on 2010 and the ways to improve in 2011.

    Some of us will turn inward and will seek ways to set goals and fit more into our ever hectic schedules. Many will be trying to fight the holiday bulge and race off the gym holding steadfastly to our resolutions. The holiday retail numbers were strong, economic indicators are improving and even the typically droll economists are optimistic about 2011.

    • Will 2011 be the year that you take care of those lagging health problems? One in five Americans put off going to the doctor due to the economic climate, so demand for procedures such as knee arthroscopy or a hip replacement is likely to increase.
    • Will this be the year that you finally get over the fear of the dentist? Prothodontists can help restore your smile through implants, bridges and fixtures, while Cosmetic Dentistry deliver an entire “smile makeovers”- filling in gaps, veneers, whitening teeth, etc.
    • Or will this be the year that you will finally has that cosmetic surgery procedure done? Newer methodology for facelifts and eye lifts (Blepharoplasty) utilizing a laser can significantly lower downtime and get you back to work looking refreshed in no time.

    The year has just begun – what do you want to with it?

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    Better informed consumers spend less on healthcare

    If consumers knew the prices beforehand and had a range of options to choose from, they could begin to cut national healthcare spending by making better decisions, according to findings from surveys the society of actuaries conducted.

    Many surveyed agreed that

    • more transparency and less ambiguity surrounding the price of healthcare would help.
    • Eighty-six percent of healthcare actuaries surveyed recommend making prices for treatments available and more visible to patients.

    In other findings, the society’s survey of 600 actuaries found:

    • 90 percent think that reducing the number and severity of medical errors will help reduce costs.
    • 88 percent believe that fighting fraud and abuse within the system can be at least somewhat effective at lowering costs.
    • 8 percent recommend making quality of provider care more available to patients.

    Among consumers surveyed, 37 percent feel they could better control their own healthcare costs if healthcare providers–or their insurance company–told them about the costs of medical services and outcome quality.

    Thirty percent believe they could better control their healthcare costs if, before beginning a medical procedure, the physician told them about the cost of the procedure, the number of times he had performed the procedure, and results.

    However, not everyone is so optimistic about their ability to control healthcare expenses. Nearly four in 10 consumers doubt they can do much to rein in individual healthcare spending.

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