• International Medical Travel Journal

    Courtesy Of IMTJ - International Medical Travel Journal

  • Courtesy Of IMTJ - International Medical Travel Journal

  • Courtesy Of IMTJ - International Medical Travel Journal

MEDIA: Medical Tourism Talk Radio launched

Tue, 07 Jul 2009 16:58:16 GMT

The world’s first medical travel and medical tourism radio has launched on the internet. Executive producer and founder Julie Munro explains Medical Travel and Tourism Talk Radio is the voice of medical travel and a voice for patients. We want healthcare consumers around the world to know the advantages of global healthcare and how to access it. Existing information is often misleading or downright wrong, even from hospitals.  MT3Radio.com is a lively, impartial outlet for information about medical tourist options that goes to the source for facts, MT3Radio.com airs for a worldwide audience on the internet via wsRadio.com, worldwide leader in internet talk. It broadcasts live Wednesdays 9.00 am Pacific Daylight Time and is archived for listening 24/7. (9.00 am PDT is 12 noon New York, 5.00 pm London, and 2.00 am Sydney.)It seeks advertisers, sponsors and industry people who want to be guests. Show hosts take listener questions live on air, and talk with people who have been patients abroad or are planning to go, with some of the world’s leading doctors, and with industry leaders. Because the show is on the internet, listeners from any country can call in to ask questions or send emails. Show hosts are Julie Munro and television talk show host Sandra Millar. Curtis Schroeder of Bumrungrad Hospital Group in Thailand was the guest on the first show and he said, Medical tourism has staying power. It is not a flash in the pan. It appears to have fundamental economics that just make sense. It’s better faster, cheaper. Upcoming guests include: Jason Yap- Raffles Hospital, Singapore Angela Braly- WellPoint, USA Daniel Snyder, Parkway Group, Singapore Ori Karev, UnitedHealth International, USA Constantine Constantinides, Healthcare Cybernetics, Greece Peter Kovac, doctor, Hungary Ivan Lugo, Temple University School of Dentistry, USA Kitipan Arom, Bangkok Heart Hospital, Thailand Vishal Bali, Wockhardt Hospitals, India Mirko Jankov, surgeon, Serbia Marwan Ghosn, doctor, Lebanon Subjects planned to be covered include; Interviews and phone calls and questions for medical travellers during their medical trips and follow up at home Medical destinations country focus Medical travel agents answer questions about choosing a country, choosing a destination, preparing for the medical journey Quality and safety; reports on quality and patient safety issues, legal questions, risk, impact of cultural differences, electronic records, privacy, and more. Next live broadcast: Wednesday July 8 at 9.00 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time. The guest is Patrick Downing of Microsoft Healthcare Solutions Group discussing what the hospital of the future looks like. Julie Munro, founder of Cosmetic Surgery Travel, gives advice based to medical tourists preparing for treatment abroad, with do’s and don’ts to make the planning process better, smarter and safer.


KOREA: Growing pains of Korean medical tourism

Tue, 07 Jul 2009 16:53:44 GMT

Korea hopes to attract more than 200,000 medical tourists by 2013. Early signs are good, but problems are emerging that have to be solved to achieve that target. According to the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs the number of foreigners visiting Korea for medical treatment jumped 32.1 percent to 9,075 in the first quarter of this year, up from 6,872 a year ago. 1,061 foreigners visited Korean hospitals in May, up from 751 last year. The government expects medical tourism to boom after the medical law was revised on May 1 allowing hospitals to launch marketing campaigns or pay commission to agencies to bring in more patients from overseas. Medical fees in Korea have been strictly controlled by the government and remain at a fraction of the prices in the United States.  But price controls do not apply to overseas patients. Initially, most hospitals charged the same to domestic and overseas patients. Most now or plan to, charge higher fees to overseas patients, as hospitals with an increasing number of medical tourists say it is inevitable for them to charge more to foreigners as it takes much more effort and time to handle non-Korean patients. According to the English Web site of the Council for Korea Medicine Overseas Promotion (CKMP), the overall price of medical services in Korea is 20 to 30 percent of that in the US. The latest statistics produced by CKMP suggest that Korea’s medical fees are 3 times lower than those of the US.A 2008 survey by the Tourism Ministry, reveals that American medical tourists do not feel fees in Korea are quite as cheap as KMOP has publicized. Those surveyed said they had an impression Korean medical services are only 20 to 30 percent less expensive than those in the US. They believed dental treatments are 30 percent cheaper, but cosmetic surgery is 30 percent more expensive. This suggests that tourists coming to Korea for cheap medical care may have problems as few hospitals are reluctant to give prices to patients or medical tourism agencies in advance. Most non-Korean websites of hospitals are long on explaining how good hospital is, but short on detail of what treatment is available and at what cost. Lee Young-ho at CKMP says that the focus of promoting Korea’s medical market should be on advanced medical technology, not price, We are seeing an increasing number of patients who come to Korea for high-quality treatment, instead of a cheaper alternative one. For Russians, the utmost importance is medical technology rather than the cost. I understand that if foreigners realize they have paid more, they will be disheartened. But what really matters is that foreign patients feel satisfied with our high quality medical service. It is not for the government to regulate the price. Hospitals have to make up for additional costs such as interpretation. Although top hospitals have people who are multi-lingual, in most there are few nurses and doctors that can speak the languages of foreign patients fluently, such as English, Russian, Japanese and Spanish.


RUSSIA: Former USSR republics embrace medical tourism

Wed, 01 Jul 2009 14:34:24 GMT

While Russia, Georgia and the Ukraine are becoming known for IVF  and stem cell treatment, other former USSR states have plans for medical and wellness tourism. Their business comes from Ireland, the UK and a host of better off but more medically expensive Western European countries. Much less talked about is the increasing stream of well-off medical travellers coming from Russia and nearby former USSR satellites; not for cheaper care, but because of the scarcity of good facilities back home. Armenia is a small, mountainous, landlocked and relatively unknown state of 3 million people. With Turkey to the west and Georgia to the north, Armenia is not easily accessible by any means of transport, and there is poor availability of high standard accommodation. But Armenia has in recent years become a centre of medical tourism, providing visitors with the opportunity of excellent treatment such as laser surgery at a fraction of the price of the same operation in, for example, Germany.A wide range of surgical, cosmetic and dental procedures is on offer. Corrective laser eye surgery is widely available, while in central Yerevan two clinics offer laser hair removal. There is a world-class heart hospital in the Nork district of Yerevan, which performs open-heart surgery for $5000 and has one of the best success rates in the world. IVF treatment is offered, at the Yerevan Center couples from the USA, Holland, Russia and Germany have come to Armenia to get treatment. American company Stem Cells for Hope (SCFH) is a company engaged in the field of regenerative medicine. This includes ongoing research, development and the treatment of patients with stem cell transplantation therapy. SCFH has established license agreements with medical treatment facilities in Eastern Europe where stem cell transplantation therapy is approved by the appropriate local government agencies. It is a new company, but already offers treatment at facilities in the Ukraine and the Republic of Georgia; and also hopes to expand to other countries soon. A project in Turkmenistan is intended to become a centre for health tourism. This ecologically clean shore of the Turkmen sector of the Caspian Sea will open its doors to several health resorts, among them a fashionable 12-storey spa hotel, holiday homes and hotels. In the new health centres, foreign visitors will be to improve their health and undergo a course of rehabilitation and spa treatment. The project, with an investment of over $5 billion, offers a wide range of customs and tax privileges. Foreign investors are invited to erect modern houses, sanatoria, health centres, spas, hotels, as well as cultural and entertainment centres in the tourist zone. The seaside Turkmenbashi international airport is under construction and will be a key transit point for the air route from Europe to South and Southeast Asia. The seaport and marina will be fully redesigned. The number of medical tourists within the former Eastern bloc is not known, but local experts suggest that including numbers coming from Asia and Western Europe, it is more than in some countries widely regarded as important medical tourism destinations.


USA: ABQAURP and PlanetHospital form strategic partnership on healthcare quality

Wed, 01 Jul 2009 14:32:50 GMT

American medical tourism agency PlanetHospital and ABQAURP are both interested in healthcare quality on a worldwide basis. They have partnered to offer international physicians looking for quality approval and enhanced credentials. Established in 1977, ABQAURP, the American Board of Quality Assurance and Utilization Review Physicians (ABQAURP) is the US’s largest organization of interdisciplinary health care professionals. It has a Health Care Quality and Management (HCQM) examination for individuals. The certification process promotes professionalism in all health care professionals and ABQAURP is the only organization with an international certification developed, administered, and evaluated through the consultation of the National Board of Medical Examiners. International physician candidates will need to be credentialed through PlanetHospital. Once credentials are certified and the candidate has passed the HCQM examination, the ABQAURP Diplomate will have the opportunity to participate in the PlanetHospital network of hospitals and clinics. Those health care professionals already affiliated with the network will have the opportunity to be certified through ABQAURP’s HCQM certification. As an ABQAURP’s corporate partner providing products or services to the health care industry, individuals get greatly reduced prices for ABQAURP certification and continuing education programs, while the company gets exhibit space at live seminars, complimentary advertising in the Patient Safety and Quality Healthcare magazine as well as numerous other benefits. To be eligible to sit for the exam, international candidates must meet the same high eligibility and credentialing standards as US candidates, including a working knowledge of English. The ABQAURP Certification Exam is given in the English language at testing sites throughout the world. Non-US physicians and other health care professionals must meet eligibility and credentialing standards. Once eligibility requirements are met, candidates may proceed with the credentialing process. Sitting for the HCQM examination is permitted while the credentialing process is pending. Credentialing is provided through PlanetHospital using its own knowledge of the sector. There is a proliferation of accreditors, certificators and credentiallers offering, for a fee, to help individuals and organisations improve healthcare and medical tourism quality. There is confusion as some use the terms interchangeably, to confuse customers who do not know the ins and outs of the various processes. According to the 2009 edition of Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, credentialing means: Examination and review of the credentials of individuals meeting a set of educational or occupational criteria and therefore being licensed in their field. Accreditation means: A process whereby a professional association or nongovernmental agency grants recognition to a health care institution for demonstrated ability to meet predetermined criteria for established standards. Certication means: A process where an individual or an institution is evaluated and recognized as meeting certain predetermined standards. Certification is usually made by a nongovernmental agency. The purpose of certification is to ensure that the standards met are those necessary for safe and ethical practice of the profession or service. So: Individuals can be credentialed, but not accredited. Organisations can be accredited but not credentialed. Either can be certificated The new partnership does offer non-US professionals an acceptable examination based standard, a class above self-approved, non-examination, fee-based alternatives.


COSTA RICA: Investment in healthcare and medical tourism

Wed, 01 Jul 2009 14:31:06 GMT

According to Coldwell Banker Peninsula Trading Co. there is a rapidly growing trend in Costa Rica in real estate investments in property developments planned for health care facilities, recovery centres, hospice homes and wellness retreats. As travel to foreign countries for both alternative and traditional medical care has grown in acceptance during the past decade, Costa Rica emerged as one of the most accessible, secure, innovative and price-competitive destinations for travellers from the US and Canada seeking  heath care. Costa Rica’s medical system is actually rated better than the United States’ by the World Health Organization. Costa Rica offers the climate and conditions for a healthy lifestyle, quality care and quick recovery. This also makes it attractive for those seeking holiday or retirement homes. Health care costs in the United States have exploded in the last few years, but the same procedures are very affordable in Costa Rica and can save people 30% to 70%. Several American medical tourism agencies see increasing opportunities in Costa Rica, while it is notable that the only three dental clinics in the Companion Global Dental network are all in Costa Rica. Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula lies in the centre of one of the largest Blue Zones of the world. Blue Zones are those areas of the world where people live the longest and have the highest quality of life. In the Nicoya Blue Zone, adults have the longest life expectancy in the world due to water quality, a healthful diet and a slower pace. Wellness retreats on the Nicoya offer opportunities for meditation, yoga, massage etc. that contribute to a healthy lifestyle and recovery from major illnesses. While wellness, dentistry were the original draws, people now go to Costa for treatment on diabetes, cardiology, urology, fertility, orthopaedics and neurology. A main attraction for medical visitors continues to be cosmetic surgery. There are two major recovery centres, mostly used by wealthy Americans.     One of the benefits of seeking care in Costa Rica is its proximity to the U.S. All major carriers, as well as discount airlines Frontier, Spirit and JetBlue, have convenient direct service to San Jose, Costa Rica. The only two JCI accredited hospitals in the country are in San Jose; Hospital Clinica Biblica, and Hospital CIMA, as is one awaiting JCI status, Hospital La Católica.  Costa Rica is home to 30 hospitals and 250 clinics. Most of Costa Rica’s modern medical clinics are located in the Central Valley, either in the capital city of San Jose, or in nearby Heredia and Alejuela, near Juan Santamaria International Airport. Pharmacies in Costa Rica can deliver basic diagnostics and medications, including birth control and painkillers, without the doctor’s visits and prescriptions required in the US. Medical tourism has a very positive impact on the economy of this destination country. Highly skilled medical professionals, often U.S. trained and fluent in English, are moving there, as are major international pharmaceutical and medical supply companies. An estimated 20,000 health travellers sought treatment here last year, although no official count is available, says Dr. Alfredo Lopez, for the Council of International Promotion of Costa Rica Medicine, (Promed)


PAKISTAN: Pakistan wants medical tourists, but not illegal transplants

Wed, 01 Jul 2009 14:26:41 GMT

Pakistan wants to attract medical tourists, but any attempt to do so is being weakened by revelations that illegal organ transplant tourism is alive and kicking. Tourism minister Maulana Atta plans to introduce medical tourism in Pakistan by providing low cost state of the art medical facilities to the patients. A simple surgery can be under a tenth of the cost of Europe or the US. Pakistan has highly qualified doctors, the latest medical equipment and hospitals with all necessary arrangements, says the minister. Pakistan’s earlier entry into medical tourism was mostly based on cheap organ transplant tourism. Although the government outlawed the practice last year, there are disturbing reports that the trade is far from dead. The Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Ordinance in 2007 to check the commercialisation of organ transplantation in Pakistan is being flouted with impunity. Some hospitals that were leaders in organ transplant tourism continue to offer their services. On 23rd June 2009,The Supreme Court expressed concern that sale of human organs for transplantation is continuing despite a law prohibiting it. It seems the provisions of the ordinance are not adhered to strictly and despite prohibition of the sale of human organs in Pakistan, the trade is going on allegedly in two hospitals, the names of which have been mentioned in a letter sent by the Transplantation Society of Pakistan, said a three-judge bench. Summoned before the bench, one hospital told the court that it had decided not to carry out any future transplant, but the other made no such commitment. The court became involved when an eminent transplant surgeon who does legal transplants, received emails from fellow transplant surgeons in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and India disclosing that their patients were still visiting Pakistan to obtain illegal kidney transplants. At a conference in India, his Indian hosts confronted him with a number of patients who had crossed the border to obtain illegal transplants in Lahore. The death of an Indian who had visited Lahore to sell his kidney and died of complications was widely reported. The BBC broadcast an interview with a Londoner, who had obtained a transplant in Pakistan that cost her £30,000. She was deceived into believing that no violation of the law was involved. The law specifically bans the sale of organs and prohibits organ transplantation from unrelated live donors. In cases where the latter are allowed the conditions stipulated by the ordinance are so stringent that no foreigner on a short visit to Pakistan can ever meet them. The Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Authority (Thota), the agency set up to regulate organ transplantation, was told of four cases of illegal transplantation surgery allegedly done in a Lahore hospital. The recipients came from Saudi Arabia, Kosovo, Turkey and Bulgaria. There are numerous institutions and persons involved in it, not just the hospitals and surgeons carrying out the surgery but visa officers in embassies who facilitate the issuance of visas, and the touts who procure the donors. In April, Thota reported that the number of foreigners being transplanted commercially with organs in Pakistan had dropped to nil from 1500 a year. But with cases of transplant tourism continuing, Thota is not working properly. The hospital that admitted several illegal operations, and the doctors involved, got no more than a mild telling off, with a promise not to do it again. Such ineffectiveness in controlling the illegal organ trade makes it difficult for Pakistan to be taken seriously as a medical tourism destination. Another problem for Pakistan is perceived hospital quality. Only one hospital has any international accreditation. Aga Khan University Hospitals in Karachi was first accredited by JCI in 2006, is due a re-accreditation survey, concentrates on charity work, and shows little interest in medical tourism.


Women's Museum