Author: Medical Tourism Magazine
Puerto Rico, considered one of the top- five selling destinations in the Caribbean, remains on the radar of international travelers.
Travel experts point to the hospitality industry, which took a significant step toward positioning the island as a prime destination for health and wellness travel when the Caribe Hilton and Condado Plaza Hilton were certified as a WellHotel™ after completing an intensive training and evaluation program offered through the Medical Tourism Association® and the Puerto Rico Medical Tourism Corporation.
“The medical tourism experience does not begin and end with treatment,” Renée-Marie Stephano, president of the Medical Tourism Association®. “In many cases, patients may require special medical attention before and after a hospital stay until they are able to travel safely. The good news is that the hospitality industry — through carefully researched and crafted education and training – is proactively recognizing the unique needs of these medical travelers and raising standards that not only meet expectations of both patients and their guests, but help to define satisfaction levels for the entire medical tourism journey.”
The Medical Tourism Association® worked closely with the international healthcare community and stakeholders who purchase its services to establish the WellHotel™ certification program, which offers a unique curriculum that fosters effective interaction among hotel administrative and service personnel with patients, medical providers, and ground operators. The Caribe Hilton Hotel and Condado Plaza Hilton participated in WellHotel™ training programs that ensured their services were responsive to medical guests from safety requirements and interpersonal communication to cultural sensitivity protocols and disease prevention practices.
The Puerto Rico Medical Tourism Corporation, an arm of the commonwealth’s tourism structure, is in the midst of an aggressive campaign to market the island’s healthcare services to international patients. In the next three years, those efforts are hoped to create some 3,000 jobs and inject $300 million into the island’s economy.
Francisco G. Bonet, executive director of the Puerto Rico Medical Tourism Corporation, said, in addition to the Caribe Hilton and Condado Plaza, a half-dozen more hotels in Puerto Rico are expected to complete WellHotel™ certification requirements by the end of this year.
“As part of our strategic plan, we hired the MTA for the process of training and certification to entities that not only provide healthcare, but also complimentary services to medical tourism patients. Many of these hotels are already in their final stage,” said Bonet, who recognized Metro Pavia, HIMA Health and Ashford Presbyterian Community Hospital as healthcare providers in Puerto Rico that had participated in an earlier round of training that, when finished, would certify some 40 hospitals to offer medical tourism services to foreign patients.