The Next Wave of Global Healthcare

The business and practice of global care is evolving. Originally called medical tourism because patients sought mostly cosmetic surgery while vacationing, the practice of seeking care away from home is now being driven by high costs, limited access, long waiting times and the availability of certain technologies not approved at home. It is morphing into a sophisticated global healthcare network facilitated by information and communications technologies and is suitable for a very small population of those who need short procedures with little postoperative risk, low followup requirements and high cost. Unfortunately, the legal, professional and business aspects of global care have lagged and continue to vex the industry.

At this point, entrepreneurs are sharpening their pencils and looking for a business model that generates cash. Facilitating care with providers is labor intensive, low margin and plagued by the aforementioned issues. Those looking to make a profit are eyeing the travel parts, insurance products and other support offerings as way to play the game. After all, more money was made servicing those traveling the Sante Fe trail, that those who actually struck it rich from mining.

As patients, providers and payors seek global solutions to high costs, the global care networks will evolve and barriers will be eliminated. It will happen faster if everyone works together to provide a business model that provides value to everyone.

Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA

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