Tag Archives: accreditation

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 (http://www.uistx.edu ) and doctors have created organizations to professionalize it , like the International Board of Medicine and Surgery (http://www.ibms.us ). 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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Lorenzana Dental Center: an American Board Certified Dentist Abroad

American Board of Prosthodontics logoDental implants are relatively new area of dentistry in which Dr. Rafael Lorenzana of Lorenzana Dental Center in El Salvador has been a true pioneer. Dental implants first arrived in the US in the early 1980s when Dr. Lorenzana was at a student at Baylor University and he has been perfecting his technique since inception.

As a Prothodontist, a specialist who has studied the mouth and jaw for an additional three years and replaces the look and function of lost or damaged teeth, Dr. Lorenzana specializes on full mouth reconstruction and is board certified by the- a distinction that less than five percent of US Dentist can claim.

People from around the world come to Lorenzana Dental Center because his credentials make a difference; Dr. Lorenzana studied Prosthodontics for three years at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and the Medical University of South Carolina. He went on to graduate as a member of the honorary dental society, Omicron Kappa Upsilon, and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from Baylor College of Dentistry, where he was also a professor in Prosthodontics for ten years. The American Board of Prosthodontics also requires stringent recertification every eight years which keeps him abreast of the latest technology.

As an American citizen born in El Salvador, Dr. Lorenzana has the mindset of an American and also practiced for seven years in Highland Park, a tony suburb of Dallas, Texas. He is a respected researcher and speaker, has visited facilities all over the worlds and prides himself that he uses the same standards, advanced techniques, materials and equipment that you would find in the United States.

See the video interview.

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Has Medical Tourism Gone Mainstream?

A new reality show entitled The Health and Wellness Travel Show takes men around the world to explore alternative treatments in a variety of exotic locations. The show will take a look at a variety of ancient and modern treatments from a variety of practitioners ranging from traditional doctors to shamans. This premise has been given the Hollywood spin and dramatized for television since medical tourism connects patients to accredited and highly-trained medical doctors. However, the fact that this show even exists makes the case that global healthcare has become mainstream and the concept of leaving home for a cure is becoming commonplace.

What do you think?

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Three Things to Know about your Doctor

A recent Deloitte report on medical tourism predicted that outbound medical travel from the US could reach upwards of 1.6 million patients by 2012, with sustainable annual growth of 35 percent. If you are one of the many potential patients seeking high quality, affordable care outside of the US, you should know three things about your provider before boarding the plane: who they are, how and where they practice, and what are their results and outcomes.
The first question, who they are, probes the provider’s education, qualifications, experience and reputation. Most of this information is usually accessible on the doctor’s website and can be verified on accreditation organization websites or professional association resources. Check to see whether the practitioner is board certified by a reputable US or foreign specialty board and if they are a member of the national specialty society or association.

Secondly, ask how and where they practice. For example, plastic surgeons and dentists are likely to practice and operate in private clinics or ambulatory surgery facilities removed from a hospital setting. Some may even own the clinic and they should divulge that information to you. If something goes wrong during a procedure, make sure you understand how and where you would get emergency care, how you would be transported there, and who would pay for it. In addition, unlike more and more hospital facilities that are being accredited by the Joint Commission International, (click for a list of accredited hospitals) the organization responsible for making sure hospitals adhere to acceptable practices and procedures, independent, free-standing facilities frequently are not similarly examined or accredited.

Finally, and perhaps the most difficult information to find, is the outcome and results of a given procedure. Ask ” How many of these operations do you do in a week, a month or a year ?” Also, inquire about the number of cases that result in complications, the need for revision surgery or significant morbidity i.e. something that unexpectedly doesn’t work the way it should after surgery, or postoperative death. Most doctors, including those in the US, will be unable to give you an accurate answer because they don’t keep good records or have an unreliable system to keep track of results. Sometimes the best you can do is to talk to someone who has had a similar procedure.

Getting information about a doctor and his or her results in not easy, wherever they practice. The more information you know, however, the better you can determine whether surgery away from home makes sense.

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ObesityFree – Specializing in Laparoscopic Weight-Loss Surgeries

MedVoy is pleased to be partnered with ObesityFree that is focused on providing laparoscopic weight loss solutions for patients who have struggled for years with their excess weight. Obesity has become an epidemic and for the first time in many decades, life expectancy is expected to decline in years to come – by as much as 10 years because of this previously underestimated condition. A large number of weight loss operations have been devised over the last 50 years, including: vertical banded gastroplasty, gastric banding (adjustable or non-adjustable), Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (Gastric Sleeve) and malabsorbtion procedures such as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, biliopancreatic diversion and duodenal switch.

Dr. Rosales of ObesityFree has specialized in – Gastric Sleeve and Adjustable Gastric Band – because the best results have come from these procedures, while also being safer with less complications and side effects. Dr. Rosales received an Invasive Surgery Fellowship at the Christus Health Group in Monterrey, Mexico and has been specializing in these procedures for the past five years. The surgeries are performed at the JCI Accredited facility of the Christus Health Group in Monterrey, Mexico. Dr. Rosales is a member of the Member of the Mexican Association of Endoscopic Surgery, AMCE and is also a Board Certified Surgeon with the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Certified for Advanced Trauma and Life Support.

Please visit their page for more details.


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Vetting your Doctor

The term medical tourism is a bit of a misnomer as it downplays the serious nature of choosing a doctor – whether in your home country or abroad. The questions below, while not exhaustive, give you some guidance on choosing your doctor wisely.

What are your academic credentials?

Look for specialized training in the chosen field, such as plastic surgery / cosmetic surgery, bariatrics, orthopedics, fertility training, prosthodontics, etc. Many doctors have international training in the US and Europe and may be American-board certified which helps to put US patients at ease. High-quality doctors collaborate internationally and regionally so also, think twice before underestimating a surgeon if they have graduated from a reputable medical school overseas. If you’re not sure – ask MedVoy!

Are you accredited?

International accreditation for providers include: Joint Commission International JCI, Trent Accreditation Scheme (TAS) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO), while the International Board of Medicine and Surgery (IBMS) certifies physicians. Furthermore, many countries also have stringent national standards that follow international guidelines. One example is Colombia, where hospitals follow international non-profit ICONTEC standards that are identical to ISQua standards. Hence, all accredited hospitals in Colombia are subsequently accredited by ISQua. Malaysia also has the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) that acts as an independent, not-for-profit organization to ensure safety and quality.

How many of these surgeries have you performed?

Experience is one of the most important elements towards a successful outcome. Whether the doctor performs the surgery every day or a few times a year is significant! Do they specialize in a certain area? A cosmetic surgeon such as MedVoy’s partner Denver Cosmetic Surgery that specializes in the aging face is going to give you a better outcome than a dilettante. Find out how many of these surgeries the doctors has performed. Also, make sure that the actual surgeon will be performing the surgery and not a subordinate.

What materials do you use?

There is a wide range in quality in the materials used – so ask! Are they from a reputable company like Johnson and Johnson or Boston Scientific? Do they provide a guaranty? MedVoy’s partner Travel and Smile in Peru will uses German-made noble metal crowns and that are the standard in the US and Germany and gives a lifetime guarantee on quality. Make sure that you know this before you are actually there.

This list does not cover all the questions which is why it’s important to work with a well-established medical tourism company.

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Is it safe?

In the 1976 thriller, “Marathon Man”, a sadistic ex-Nazi dentist(Laurence Olivier)  tortures an unknowing grad student ( Dustin Hoffman) to determine the whereabouts of stolen jewels, constanting asking “Is it safe?”.  The line was etched into the annals of celluloid history. It is now reappearing as more and more potential patients are asking whether it is safe to get care away from home.  A few things to remember:

1. Healthcare, whether delivered in the US or somewhere else, is never completely safe. The operating room, a hospital bed or even an outpatient clinic is potentially dangerous under the best of circumstances.

2. In general, the more times a surgeon and the facility where he or she works does a procedure, the better the outcome.

3. While education, credentials, experience and certification are important quality benchmarks, they sometimes do not tell the whole story.

4. Whether in the US or around the world, quality outcomes data are often incomplete or non-existent.

Patients choose doctors for many reasons. A rational decision based on quality data is rarely one of them.

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Will medical tourism improve surgical safety?

Will the growth of medical tourism improve surgical safety throughout the world or will economic factors create separate systems: one for the domestic population and one for inbound medical tourists willing to pay for a higher class of care? While some would argue that a two class system presently exists in several industrialized countries, including the United States, a favorable outcome realized from the growth of medical tourism would be improved surgical quality standards and outcomes for all patients.

The answer to the question is important for several reasons. First, there is an unserved burden of global surgical care. Improved standards, outcomes, manpower and per patient expeditures in developing countries would help meet the needs of underserved domestic populations.

Second, important ethical, political and socioeconomic problems arise when there are different healthcare standards for different people in a given country. We should strive for the highest accreditation standards for everyone.

Third, a potential backlash to medical tourism might occur if citizens feel they are getting second class care at the expense of medical tourists. For example, how would Americans feel if the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services reimbursed for care outside of the United States?

Politicians like to say that all boats benefit from a rising tide. Let’s hope some don’t sink.

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MedVoy visits JCI accredited hospitals in Jordan for its medical tourism offering

Recently MedVoy had the opportunity to visit 4 JCI accredited hospitals in Jordan. Jordan has not only been one of the popular tourist destinations with its modern seven wonder Petra, Dead Sea and its religious ties to ancient history but also has offered treatments to almost 210,110 patients from 48 countries treatment in 2008. Jordan is the only country in the Middle East that generates more income than what it spends on health and has been witnessing a yearly steady increase of around 10 percent of foreign patients. This beautiful country with its very ancient history has a lot to offer when it comes to medical tourism and offers a comprehensive solution with the high quality and competitive cost healthcare.

All major JCI accredited hospitals namely Jordan Hospital, King Hussein Cancer Center, Al-Essra Hospital, and Specialty Hospital have the high quality standards with excellent western atmosphere luxury patient rooms. They have not only the latest technologies and medical devices but also have well trained, qualified English speaking staffs giving the best care of service. All the doctors involved in providing international patient care have reputed credentials with wide international medical experiences and some of them include American/UK Board certified surgeons who have returned back home. One factor that differentiates and puts Jordan as a leading destination in medical tourism industry is the experience they have already gained by dealing with international medical tourist patient. 30-40% of their inpatients in year 2008 are from countries outside Jordan. This international exposure combined with their high quality treatments, low cost (almost as low as 25 percent of the value the same medical procedures in U.S.) puts Jordan one of the top most medical tourist destinations in the world. I was impressed on all levels and the quality of care provided truly exceeds the expectation of any accreditation standards and it’s far better than majority of the U.S. based hospitals.

I have no doubt that Jordan is going to be the top most medical tourist destination in the years coming. MedVoy is currently working on adding more medical tourism offerings in the country of Jordan for its North American patients.

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