Since October, 1,400 Haitians have died from the cholera outbreak that is taxing the country’s already fragile infrastructure. The 2010 Haiti earthquake killed 250,000 and destroyed large portions of Haiti’s healthcare system, hospitals, government offices and other supporting organizations. Crisis Mappers are doing their part to help direct resources to the people and areas of most urgent need. The HealthMap-Haiti picture to the right shows the outbreak, which is most acute at Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital and largest city.
Social Media enables people to interact and share, which makes it inherently useful for healthcare providers and patients and this post gives two great examples. The University of Maryland Medical Center and Mayo Clinic use Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to share information with their communities. More important, however, each hospital allows members of its community to share with each other.
Innovation with medical technologies and procedures plays a critical role in expanding treatment options, which can include medical tourism. For example, The International Orthopedic Group in Doral, Florida, USA uses minimally invasive surgery and regional block anesthesia to reduce the post-operative recovery time. In the former, minimal incisions are made, which reduces tissue damage. This makes the procedure more applicable to medical tourism patients. Similarly, regional block anesthesia makes the procedure easier on the patient and less of an ordeal. For the clinic, this dramatically increases the market it can address.
If “medical tourism” is defined as traveling for healthcare, that does not necessarily mean overseas. This article highlights U.S. “domestic” medical tourism case studies from Lowe’s, BridgeHealth Medical, The Health Services Coalition, and Alpha Coal West. “Domestic” medical tourism is also increasing in Europe where patients travel to other European providers.
According to the Globalization of Healthcare’s Brazil Report, Brazil is slower than many Asian countries in developing a coordinated effort to grow its medical tourism industry, but that is changing. Last week, in Sao Paulo, Brazil hosted its first medical tourism conference to raise awareness and develop its industry. The fifth most populous country in the world, it has a large and growing healthcare system.
Brazil is already known for its advanced cosmetic procedures. Sea, Sun, and Scalpels states:
What separates its hospitals from their counterparts in Bangkok or Bangalore or Singapore is their world-famous reputation, albeit for plastic surgery. Surgeons such as Dr. Ivo Pitanguy–the “Michaelangelo of the scalpel” who invented many of the techniques–are justifiably famous overseas.
Brazilian government and medical leaders want to add to its repertoire namely in orthopedics, opthamology, cardiology, neurology. They think about its leadership in South America as well as the proximity of United States and Canadian patients.
Stackpole Associates’ 2010 research on U.S. hospitals’ international patients departments reveals increasing volume, varied motivations, and less training for patient care providers than international patient departments’ staff. Conducted in March 2010 and published in June, the research surveyed 87 professionals from 48 U.S. hospitals.
In reviewing the executive summary, it looks like most respondents treat medical tourism as an incidental source of patients that they do not actively seek:
- Only 44% of patient care staff had undergone training for accommodating international patients. However, such patients accounted for an average of 1.5% of revenue
- The overwhelming source of international patients was word of mouth, and physician referrals were the second largest source
In addition, the respondents reported diverse rationales for international departments, from revenue and responding to demand to “international relations.”
Interview with Managing Director Brad Cook
Have you ever wondered how a top medical tourism hospital develops its international patient department? Here is a valuable interview conducted by Medical Tourism Magazine’s Renee-Marie Stephano of Brad Cook, Managing Director of Clinica Biblica’s international patient department.
This is a very valuable post that explains how the international department functions in significant detail. Cook explains the entire process from when the patient first contacts his office to post-operative follow-up but he emphasizes that the onboarding process can be quite rapid:
Wait times are almost non-existent at Clinica Biblica as they run a tight ship. “It is not unheard of for a patient to contact us on Monday and schedule his or her surgery for Thursday,” says Cook.
I encourage you to read the article.