Today we will be interviewing Julie Conner of GLOBAL Medical Tourism Facilitators who is a Member of the Medical Tourism Association and also received her Certified Medical Tourism Specialist Certification with our association. Julie is co-founder of GLOBAL Medical Tourism Facilitators along with doing her own personal medical facilitation at GLOBAL.
MTA - Good morning Julie. How are you?
JC – Good morning Gill, I am doing very well, thank you for providing me the opportunity to introduce GLOBAL Medical Tourism Facilitators to MTA Members.
MTA - I would like to start the interview by asking you about your organization specialties and what your role at the company is?
JC – Sure, I am the director of business development and marketing for GLOBAL Medical Tourism Facilitators (GMTF). GMTF’s focus is on facilitating medical trips to beautiful, safe, tourist destinations for Americans and Canadians. We provide outstanding facilitation services for cosmetic procedures, dental, bariatric, reproduction, wellness, orthopedics, optical and hair transplants.
MTA - Why should patients use a medical tourism facilitator when planning procedures and treatments abroad?
JC – I became involved in Medical Tourism because my daughter was a medical tourist. My daughter and I sought out a medical tourism facilitator for the knowledge and assistance that they could provide to us. Having someone assist us in a country we have never been to before was invaluable. Let’s face it, the biggest concern about any medical procedure is safety. This becomes even more so when traveling to an unfamiliar place to have the procedure done. A good facilitator should vet the doctors and the facilities, check online to assess their reputation and feel confident and knowledgeable about the referring physician. Most patients are unable to do this for themselves, and could potentially lead them into harmful situation.
MTA - Why can’t a patient just use a travel agent for their medical travels?
JC – I love that question and the simple answer is that we are not travel agents and travel agents are not medical facilitators. A good knowledge of medicine, medical terminology, insurance, and the ability to properly communicate with physicians and medical professionals is paramount in medical facilitation. First and foremost we have to address the medical aspect prior to the travel and tourism aspect. Unlike a travel agent, if an issue arises with billing or payment for instance, we are there to assist the client. While the client is abroad, he/she will have continuous access to us in the event an emergency arises. Once the patients return, we stay in contact and follow up on their after-care. Medical tourism facilitators and travel agents would make good power teams, working together like a tax accountant and an attorney, both possessing specialized but separate skills.
MTA - I love that you have a quote on your website that says “EVERYONE HAS THE RIGHT TO AFFORDABLE MEDICAL CARE”. Can you really save a potential patient money just by traveling outside of their immediate community?
JC – Most of the time, absolutely! Sometimes traveling abroad is the only option. I use my daughter as an example. She needed procedures that she could have never afforded in the United States and was able to obtain them by traveling outside of our community for a quarter of the price. By traveling abroad, she found hope and access to affordable medical care. Yes this is what we strive to provide our clients everyday, hope and affordable medical care.
MTA - How important is patient experience and best practices to you?
JC – The patient experience is paramount in medical tourism and goes hand-in-hand with best practices. It all begins with transparency on the part of the facilitator as well as the surgeon/hospital. I really think the medical facilitator plays a huge role in providing the patient experience. Yes, the quality of the surgeon, hospital and overall outcome is critical ; but, in medical tourism, it’s really about what happens prior to and after the surgery that is just as important for the patient to feel justified in their decision to travel abroad for the procedure…and to go home and tell all their friends about their experience!
MTA - What are some things about your medical facilitation organization that potential medical tourists should know?
JC – We would want them to know that our goal is to make their medical tourism experience as positive and successful as possible. We understand that the medical procedure is very personal and intimate and requires close attention to details and safety. We are located in the United States and can offer a high level of after-care attention after they arrive home. We make every effort to visit the surgeons and hospitals that we recommend and strive to have outstanding working relationships with our physicians and hospitals and most importantly, safety is our number one priority.
MTA - What would be your advice to a potential medical tourist patient reading this, who might be hesitant to travel to another country for treatment?
JC – Medical tourism isn’t for everybody, but more than likely if they are reading this or have contacted our company, it’s because it is a potential option. First, I would share my personal story about how I was petrified when my daughter decided to go abroad for treatment. Then, I would share her successful outcome. In addition, I would advise them to speak to others who have traveled abroad and allow me to help them address their concerns.
MTA - Do you do both inbound and out bound facilitation or focus on a targeted region?
JC – Our experience has been with outbound targeted regions so far. However, we have been working with several doctors, hospitals and specialty clinics in the Seattle area and other key players in developing Seattle as a medical tourism destination.
MTA - How important was it for you to become a member of the Medical Tourism Association and also received your Certified Medical Tourism Specialist Certification with our association?
JC – I wanted to offer my clients the best possible service and knowledge about medical tourism. I wanted them to know that I have taken steps to be a part of the medical tourism community and not just a lone ranger trying to figure things out on my own. The CMTS training gave me the road map that I needed to provide the superior facilitation services to my clients.
MTA - Are you attending the 6th World Medical Tourism Conference in Las Vegas?
JC – Yes! I am excited that my daughter/partner and I are both planning on attending.
MTA - If so, why is the annual conference important for members and CMTS members to attend?
JC – It is always good to stay connected to those in your field, learn and make new relationships.
MTA - What are your expectations for this year’s conference in Vegas?
JC – I want to learn as much as I can. I want to make connections with people from all around the globe and I want to be inspired to continue the important work we do.
MTA - Is there anything else that you want people know about you or your organization before we conclude our interview?
JC – I have a passion for what I do. Of course there is a business side to this but ultimately I get the privilege of helping someone undergo life changing medical procedures. I am so appreciative to be allowed to play a part in this chapter of a person’s life and I do not take that responsibility for granted.
MTA - Thank you for your time.
You may contact Julie Conner from GLOBAL Medical Tourism Facilitators via the contact information below:
Director of Business Development
Toll Free: 888-209-5056