Author: Medical Tourism Magazine
Medical Tourism Association has launched its International Healthcare Research Center
Research and actionable intelligence is at the core of any industry. Without it, no industry players can make informed or intelligent decisions. It holds back growth and opportunity. Without it, there is no transparency and no one knows what is really happening in international healthcare.
What’s with the “Gloomsday” files?
We all have been waiting for some updated credible numbers and statistics to come to light. Credible sources such as McKinsey, Deloitte and Ernst and Young have left us less than satisfied as statistics from their reports fade quickly in the distance.
So what are we left with? Biased (perhaps vindictive) and financially motivated (perhaps financially distressed) journals and bloggers conduct “surveys” reportedly holding the only golden ticket of knowledge of industry trends and purported conclusions. The latest of which had the gall to allege that the numbers of U.S. patients inbound to the U.S. is the same as the numbers outbound.
In the U.S., the hospitals treating international patients have their own definition of what international patients are, much like the rest of the world. And never do those definitions meet. In fact, a coalition of over 120 academic medical centers in the U.S. has been standardizing this definition and gathering statistics from member hospitals for several years now with no publishable numbers to boast of. That being said, no survey from overseas bloggers would ever contain credible data as to inbound or outbound care when the hospitals themselves cannot gather such data to produce conclusive numbers.
Other industry pundits have taken a turn for the worse in their own businesses and bringing the dark rain upon the industry as a whole. Everyone knows that medical tourism is both a regional and global industry for the very same reasons. Patients are searching for value. The value proposition consists of better quality, affordability, accessibility, availability plus the perception of the destination for tourism. This means if it is desirable, safe and provides value, it is open for consideration. Surely some people may choose to go to a destination closer rather than further away, however, opportunity waits in many markets as a long term strategic marketing approach. The groundwork laid today will be harvestable in the future. Is the goal of your facility to have a regional brand or an international one? Diversity and smart investment over a long term period of time can assure both.
It would be wise to bury the “gloomsday” files into the “rubbish” files along with the rest of the negativity if the industry is to grow. Do something productive for a change.
U.S. healthcare market potential
It is also interesting to note that the U.S. healthcare market is extraordinarily developing in its education process about overseas healthcare opportunities. The key is education and communication. Medical tourism remains a new concept for employers and employees. The idea of traveling abroad seems seductive to employees and attractive to employers who are seeking cheaper healthcare. “American Apparel is strongly researching about it,” American Apparel benefits manager Jacqueline Madrigal said.
“I think lots of employers are going to look outside the box.”
“I have employees asking me about it (medical tourism), I received letters and e-mails,” Madrigal said.
However, the medical tourism concept at first sight can appear hostile to a lot of people. In that way, according to Midwest Group on Health, President and CEO Larry Boress, employers should promote their medical tourism program and educate employees about it. “Employees don’t understand how lower care can still be high quality just by traveling,” Boress said. “But they need information and motivation.”
According to him, the biggest failures happen when the employees don’t have enough information or trust about medical tourism. That can include peers testimonials or credible sources of information.
Global benefits underserved
Global Benefits is another underserved area for consideration. “From our client work, we are not seeing many domestic carriers cater to medical tourism. What we are seeing are international insurance companies embrace medical tourism as a way to add yet another service in their portfolio of products. Most insurers are targeting high net worth clients with packages that provide for and cover part or in whole, needed medical procedures outside their country of residence,” said David Bryan, president of the Global Benefits Association.
It is clear there is much road to be paved through these international insurance fields which provides ample opportunity for all involved and certainly provides opportunity for investment and growth. In the end, transparency in terms of quality, pricing, education and communication are the keys to a solid foundation in the international healthcare arena.
There are a lot of changes going on and new initiatives being put into place all in search of finding the best way to implement this concept of traveling for medical care. Conferences are being held, facilities are being built, deals are being made, target markets are getting defined and countries/regions are combining forces with hospitals, tourism boards and governments and branding themselves as a destination for healthcare, it is no more a standalone hospital promoting how great their dental/cosmetic procedures are.
Hospitals are not throwing out a “wide net” and expecting to just bring in patients. They realize it will take time and intelligent marketing to really see results in patient flow and revenue. The generalization of the industry may have been a thing of the past, but now defining a target market seems to be the best idea.
Entrance IHRC – International Healthcare Research Center
I am very excited to announce that the Medical Tourism Association™ has partnered with the International Healthcare Research Center (IHRC) on all future research projects. The International Healthcare Research Center will focus on market research, trends and analysis and providing actionable intelligence for the medical tourism, international healthcare and international health insurance industry. IHRC will be partnering with a major U.S. University to partner in these research efforts.
Research conducted by the IHRC will be published through numerous media outlets including Medical Tourism Magazine, the Medical Tourism Association™ website, Health Tourism Magazine, and Medical Tourism City, through published reports and at global events, and provided to international media and press.
The types of research the IHRC will conduct are:
- International Patient Experiences & Outcomes
- Buyers of Healthcare Research in the area of Insurers, Employers, Governments and Facilitators
- Governmental Research
- Patient Demographics
- Trends & Analysis of International Patient Care
- Global Health Insurance Research
- Hospital Research
- Researching Healthcare Issues with Local Populations and understanding Health, Wellness and Population Health Management that can positively affect the health and wellbeing of individuals.
The International Healthcare Research Center is in the application process of a 501(c)(3) designation by the Internal Revenue Service. Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code provides for the exemption for educational and scientific organization which are not organized for profit and no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. The International Healthcare Research Center does not have shareholders or investors.
About the Author
Renee-Marie Stephano is the President of the Medical Tourism Association™. Ms. Stephano is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Medical Tourism Magazine, Health Tourism Magazine and Healthcare Development Magazine. Having a background in international marketing and relations, health law and litigation, she provides a valuable service to the Medical Tourism Association™ in these fields. She may be reached at [email protected].