Tag Archives: medical tourism facilitator

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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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    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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    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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    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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    Global Healthcare Is Not Just About The Cost

    3 Million people spent $76B on care away from home in 2010.
    A recent Frost and Sullivan research report on the medical travel business predicts that medical tourism will come a $100 B business by the end of 2012 and that hot spots to watch will be: the Middle East, Asia and Germany.
    While most believe that cost is the main driver this is not true across the board. A McKinsey and Company 2008 report emphasizes that 40 per cent of medical travelers seek advanced technology, 32 per cent seek better healthcare, 15 per cent seek faster medical services and only 9 percent of travelers seek lower costs as their primary consideration. Click to view the full report.

    As reimbursements for Medicaid and Medicare continue to decrease and increasing numbers of US doctors indicate they will cut back seeing patients insured by these government insurance plans, or stop seeing them altogether. This will fuel access, rather than cost, to the forefront of medical travel.
    Inbound tourism is the flip side of the same coin – as US healthcare continues to get more expensive and more difficult to access, hospitals are looking for ways to fill the beds. Foreign patients are attractive market and also pay in cash.
    As I””ve pointed out before, these market eruptions present entrepreneurs with big opportunities. Healthcare reform might change the rules, but I don””t think significantly, given the big picture patient demographic and manpower supply and demand challenges.
    Global referral communications, coordination and care is a growth industry begging for talent and $100B is likely to get a lot of attention. It certainly got mine.

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    The New Normal in Global Healthcare Referrals

    The model for global healthcare referrals has changed. In the old model, patients went to their doctor who referred them to another doctor or surgeon for care. These days, patients find their own surgeon and request a “reverse referral” asking the consultant to get the necessary information from a primary care doctor at home to assure continuity of care. Using transfer of electronic medical records, health information exchanges and telemedicine, patients now drive the process with increasing disintermediation of healthcare professionals.

    BOTTOM LINE: The globalized, interconnected healthcare infrastructure is putting more power in the hands of patients to make choices about the value of care they receive.

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    Mommy Makeovers at MedVoy

    You may be wondering… what exactly is a “mommy makeover”?

    Pregnancy takes a toll of a woman’s figure and a mommy makeover is designed to help restore the pre-baby body. Women gain an average of 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy and unfortunately, there are changes to the body, such as stretching of the stomach and fatty tissues stored in the hips and abdomen which is difficult, if not impossible, to lose through diet and exercise alone. A mommy makeover combines a variety of cosmetic surgery, such as tummy tuck, butt lift, breast lift/augmentation, liposuction, cellulite removal and other treatments. As every woman is different, these are customized to each woman’s needs.

    Medical Tourism helps to provide high quality services at an affordable prices, keeping the savings  for more important things (like sending your little one off to college).  Contact us for a complimentary quote.

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