Posts Tagged ‘tourism’


In HEALTH AND WELLNESS on November 14, 2012 at 12:31 pm


With the globalization of the Medical profession, and the advancements made abroad, medical tourism is becoming more common and accepted. “Various studies using different criteria have estimated that anywhere between 60,000 to 750,000 U.S. residents travel abroad for health care each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

NEW YORK | Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:22am EST

NEW YORK(Reuters) – Looking for an affordable face lift without breaking the bank? Want to combine a tummy tuck with two weeks in the sun? You’re not alone. Nearly a third of people surveyed around the world say they are open to the idea of medical tourism – traveling abroad to enjoy cheaper medical or dental treatment, according to a new Ipsos poll of 18,731 adults in 24 countries. Indeed, 18 percent said they would definitely consider it. “The concept of medical tourism is well accepted in many countries,” said Nicolas Boyon, senior vice president of Ipsos Public Affairs.

“With the exception of Japan there are at least one-third of consumers in every country we covered that are open to the idea,” he said in an interview.

Whether for economic reasons or perceptions of superior treatment elsewhere, for treatments ranging from cosmetic to life-saving surgeries, Indians, Indonesians, Russians, Mexicans and Poles were the most open to the idea of being medically mobile. Thirty-one percent or more people in each of those countries said they would definitely consider traveling for a medical or dental treatment.

Conversely, people in Japan, South Korea, Spain and Sweden were least likely to be medical tourists. Boyon said it was not surprising that men and women from emerging nations would be medically mobile if the treatments were cheaper. “This probably reflects perceptions of medical care in other countries that is superior to what is available at home,” he said. But he was intrigued by the percentage of people in developed nations such as Italy, where 66 percent said they would definitely or probably consider medical tourism, along with Germany (48 percent), Canada (41 percent) and the United States, where 38 percent of people were open to the idea.

“It is a reflection that the medical profession is no longer protected from globalization,” Boyon said.


Although medical tourism spans a range of treatments, the most common are dental care, cosmetic surgery, elective surgery and fertility treatment, according to a OECD report.

“The medical tourist industry is dynamic and volatile and a range of factors including the economic climate, domestic policy changes, political instability, travel restrictions, advertising practices, geo-political shifts, and innovative and pioneering forms of treatment may all contribute towards shifts in patterns of consumption and production of domestic and overseas health services,” the report said.

Various studies using different criteria have estimated that anywhere between 60,000 to 750,000 U.S. residents travel abroad for health care each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Along with variations among countries, the Ipsos survey showed that younger adults under 35 years of age were more likely in most countries to consider medical tourism, than people 50 to 64 years old. In India, 86 percent of young adults said they would consider medical tourism, along with 77 percent in China, and 71 percent in Italy.

Boyon suggested that the cost of travel, proximity, borders and quality of care may also be factors considered by potential medical tourists. In both Italy and Germany, about 20 percent of adults said they would definitely consider medical tourism. Both countries are near Hungary, a popular destination for health treatments. Ipsos conducted the poll in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States.

“Ipsos” is a global independent market research company ranking third worldwide among research firms.


Medical Tourism’s Most Distant Outposts – Forbes.com

In ALL ARTICLES, STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS on May 22, 2009 at 9:58 am

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Medical Tourism’s Most Distant Outposts

Gaia Pianigiani, 05.21.09, 05:00 PM EDT

Desperate patients are traveling far and wide for access to stem-cell cures banned in the States.

In December 2008, Carlene Gregg Victor left Houston’s George Bush International airport with a wheelchair and a flicker of hope. After a 10-hour plane ride and a five-hour snowy drive from Amsterdam to Cologne, Germany, she and her husband arrived at a hotel near the Xcell-Center for Regenerative Medicine, where they would mount a desperate offensive in their battle with her Parkinson’s disease.

By that time, Gregg Victor, 65, had suffered from Parkinson’s for seven years. Her right hand trembled so much that she couldn’t write anymore; feeling in the toes of her right foot would fade in and out; and she couldn’t twist that ankle. When she walked, her right leg moved more slowly than her left.

Frustrated by the lack of treatment options in the U.S., she was willing to gamble on a $10,000 procedure involving the injection of 3 million of her own stem cells, extracted from bone marrow in her hip, into the fluid surrounding her spinal cord.

Unlike other cells, stem cells have the power to replicate, making them potentially powerful weapons against all manner of pathologies, from Alzheimer’s to diabetes. The cells can be harvested from numerous sources–often from a patient’s own bone marrow or from umbilical cord blood of healthy newborns. Once multiplied and conditioned, the cells can be injected intravenously into the blood stream or directly into injured sections of the body, depending on the ailment.

via Medical Tourism’s Most Distant Outposts – Forbes.com.

Medical Tourism Cannot Be the Answer – “Secondhand Smoke”

In ALL ARTICLES, STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS on April 13, 2009 at 10:39 pm

medical tourism abroad stem cell

Medical Tourism Cannot Be the Answer

I have reported here at SHS that due to the “NHS meltdown,” tens of thousands of UK patients travel abroad to receive care they should be able to receive close to home. Now, the concept is apparently spreading in the USA, at least if the AMAMedical News is to be believed. From the story:

The American Medical Association House of Delegates recently took an interest in medical tourism as well. At its Annual Meeting in June, it approved a set of guidelines designed to help ensure that globe-trotting patients have all the information they need to decide for themselves when to go overseas, and that they are protected when they go. The guidelines, outlined in a report by the AMA Council on Medical Service, also consider the role of physicians back home involved in their traveling patients’ follow-up care.

Right now, it is too early to conclude whether the risks of medical tourism outweigh the advantages. Meanwhile, long-standing AMA policy on pluralism in health care supports the ability of patients to choose their treatments and physicians.

The operative word is “choose.” The guidelines state that medical care outside the United States must be voluntary, and that any financial incentives should not inappropriately limit the diagnostic and therapeutic alternatives, or restrict treatment or referral options. In the end, the decision to travel for care is those patients’–not anybody else’s.

There’s the “C-word” again, the excuse for every pullback from upholding robust ethical norms.

Rather than shrug its collective shoulders about the threat of medical tourism, it seems to me that the AMA should instead strive to promote policies where patients wouldn’t feel so pressed that they would consider traveling 5000 miles, to be treated by doctors they have never met, in a circumstance where they are far from family and friends. But, alas, this is the kind of bland “leadership” we too often get from our instituions these days:

The cost of care and the issue of the uninsured need to be addressed at home so patients don’t feel like they have to look elsewhere for affordable, quality medicine. But while patients are seeking care elsewhere, they need to be fully informed about the risks of opting for medical tourism. Traveling overseas may be their choice. What they certainly don’t need is anybody else forcing the decision on them.

But that is what will happen if the current trends continue and the medical establishment doesn’t take a stronger stand.

Yes, people should have choices, but the AMA’s bland “safeguards” approach could grease the skids for HMOs or publicly funded programs outsourcing expensive surgeries and other forms of care to India or other nations. Whatever happened to leadership?


via Secondhand Smoke: Your 24/7 Seminar on Bioethics and the Importance of Being Human: July 2008.

Going Abroad to Find Affordable Health Care

In ALL ARTICLES, BUSINESS OF STEM CELLS on March 21, 2009 at 9:19 pm

med-tourism medical travel doctor hospital treatmentGoing Abroad to Find Affordable Health Care

Brett Flashnick for The New York Times

Published: March 20, 2009

WHEN Ben Schreiner, a 62-year-old retired Bank of America executive, found out last year he would need surgery for a double hernia, he started evaluating possible doctors and hospitals. But he didn’t look into the medical center in his hometown, Camden, S.C., or the bigger hospitals in nearby Columbia. Instead, his search led him to consider surgery in such far-flung places as Ireland, Thailand and Turkey.

Ultimately he decided on San José, Costa Rica, where just a week or so after the outpatient procedure and initial recovery, he and his wife were sightseeing throughout the country, then relaxing at a lush resort. He was home four weeks later, with no complications.

Mr. Schreiner is what’s known in the health care world as a “medical tourist.” No longer covered under his former employer’s insurance and too young to qualify for Medicare, Mr. Schreiner has a private health insurance policy with a steep $10,000 deductible. Not wanting to spend all of that on the $14,000 his operation would have cost stateside, he paid only $3,900 in hospital and doctor’s bills in Costa Rica.

“I didn’t have to fork over my entire deductible,” Mr. Schreiner said. “What’s more, they bent over backwards there to take care of me – no waiting, a friendly staff, everyone spoke English.”

At least 85,000 Americans choose to travel abroad for medical procedures each year, according to a recent report by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Treatment includes dental implants, hip and knee replacements, heart valve replacements and bypass surgery. The cost of surgery performed overseas can be as little as 20 percent of the price of the same procedure in the United States, according to a recent report by the American Medical Association.

Medical tourism is expected to expand quickly in the coming years because of rising health care costs in the United States, increasing availability of international facilities with United States accreditation, and the fact that insurers and employers are beginning to embrace the practice.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina, for example, has started a subsidiary company, Companion Global Healthcare, to offer medical tourism services to individuals and businesses. Hannaford supermarkets in Maine recently added an international option for hip replacements to its health care plan.

At the moment, however, the bulk of medical tourism candidates are uninsured and underinsured people paying their own bills and looking for low-cost alternatives to American care. Medical tourism advocates argue that the quality of care overseas is often equal to or better than that in the United States. Many countries have high success rates, American-trained English-speaking doctors and the newest facilities, often built specifically to attract foreign patients.

But there are no comprehensive data that adequately compare overseas surgical outcomes or other quality measures to those used in the United States, said Dr. Sharon Kleefield of the Harvard Medical School and a specialist in overseas health care quality measures.

“No matter how high your hospital is rated, there are issues with regard to quality and safety when you travel for medical treatment,” she said.

The American Medical Association, also worried about the risks associated with overseas medical travel and the difficulty in getting adequate follow-up care, issued guidelines on medical tourism last June. (They’re available on the Web at tinyurl.com/cpklcw.)

With those cautions in mind, here’s what you need to know if you are considering an international medical option:

Determine whether you are a good candidate. “Traveling for surgery is a big deal,” said Josef Woodman, author of “Patients Beyond Borders: Everybody’s Guide to Affordable World-Class Medical Tourism.” Recovery time is often compressed, and a long flight home can cause complications like a blood clot. You’ll need to provide a thorough health history and have a physical stateside before you go to make sure you can withstand the trip.

Mr. Woodman points out that not every condition should be treated overseas: “Orthopedic and nonemergency heart procedures have some of the highest success rates. But with something like cancer, you need the ongoing relationship with your oncologist and health care team.”

Get a reliable middleman. Dozens of medical tourism facilitators and planners have sprung up in the past decade hoping to capitalize on the trend and simplify the process for consumers. “Unfortunately, plenty of unreliable firms have sprung up, too,” said Jonathan Edelheit, president of the Medical Tourism Association, a nonprofit organization made up of hospitals and facilitators that cater to traveling patients.

Good firms, said Mr. Edelheit, will match your medical needs with the best overseas hospitals and physicians; make your travel, lodging, visa and local transportation arrangements; handle billing; and help arrange follow-up care. For a list of facilitators vetted by the association, go to medicaltourismassociation.com. Once you narrow your search, ask each potential firm for references and former patients you can interview.

Check out quality yourself. Although medical tourism firms will say they work only with the highest quality hospitals and physicians, you’ll still need to check the records. Don’t be swayed by the luxurious private hospital rooms, gourmet food and other amenities splashed on the Web sites. You want to be sure you’re going to a hospital accredited by the Joint Commission, the organization that reviews both American and international medical and dental facilities, using United State standards. (Find it at http://www.jointcommissioninternational.org/.)

Be sure to read carefully, a commission spokeswoman, Elizabeth Zhani, warned. You may find a facility’s name on the accreditation list, but it may be that only an affiliated lab or clinic is accredited, not the entire facility.

“Keep in mind that commission accreditation is the floor, not the ceiling,” said Dr. Kleefield. You’ll want to ask your own questions about the facility’s blood safety, medication safety, infection rates and unexpected morbidity rates for the procedure you’re undergoing, and discuss the data with your American doctor.

Just as you would in the United States, you’ll want to interview the physician handling your case before you arrive. Ask if he or she was trained in the United States and is fluent in English, how often he or she has done the procedure you’re having, and what the long-term outcomes have been. Conducting this interview beforehand will also help you establish a rapport with your doctor before you go under the knife.

Arrange your follow-up care in advance. “The biggest stumbling block with medical travel is getting care when you return,” said David Boucher, chief executive of Companion Global. Doctors often balk at treating complications from overseas surgeries because they are unfamiliar with the procedures or prosthetics used or are worried about liability.

Meet with your general practitioner and any specialist who may have been treating you before you go, said Dr. Ted Epperly, the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians: “They’ll be able to provide your medical records, either electronically or on paper, to your overseas doctors.”

Give your doctors in the United States specific details on where you are going for your procedure and contact information for your overseas doctors. And be sure to ask what medical records and information you need to bring home to complete your care.

Finally, before you leave, do your best to arrange a phone or e-mail conference between your doctors at home and abroad so communication will be established before a problem arises.

“This is the best, most accurate USA article I have seen on the subject of medical tourism.” – Don Margolis, Founder of the Repair Stem Cell Institute

Via http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/21/health/21patient.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=medical%20tourism&st=cse

MEDICAL TOURISM; Sometimes, Sightseeing Is a Look at Your X-Rays

In ALL ARTICLES, BUSINESS OF STEM CELLS on March 21, 2009 at 7:12 pm

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medical-tourism-hospital-travel-treatmentsMEDICAL TOURISM; Sometimes, Sightseeing Is a Look at Your X-Rays


Published: May 20, 2007 New York Times




FINISHING my lunch at an open-air restaurant in downtown Bangkok, I felt slightly queasy. But by the time the taxi arrived back at my hotel, sweat was pouring out of my armpits, the folds of my stomach, even my shins, and my leg joints buckled as if a diamond-tipped drill was boring into them. As I got out of the taxi, I collapsed onto the street.


The taxi driver shoved me back into his cab, and we wove our way through the city’s infamous traffic to Bumrungrad International, a hospital near my hotel. I barely made it to the emergency room before I passed out. When I woke and remembered what had happened, part of me wanted to bolt from my E.R. bed. I knew very little about Thai medical facilities, and recalled a clinic I’d seen in neighboring Myanmar, where patients had to bring their own linens, needles and even bandages to the hospital.


Yet my Bumrungrad doctor, trained in America, immediately put me at ease. Surrounded by a gaggle of nurses ready to care for my every complaint at any time of day, the doctor informed me, ”We’re pretty sure you have dengue fever,” referring to a dangerous tropical disease also known as breakbone fever. My temperature had topped 104, but the doctor quickly determined I did not have dengue hemorrhagic fever, the worst strain of the disease. While I rested in a spotless room, he designed a program for my recovery, recommended a week of convalescence, and prescribed an array of medication for the searing joint pain. When I visited Bumrungrad’s cashier, passing the hospital’s high-end restaurants and plush waiting rooms along the way, an assistant handed me the bill. For admittance to the emergency room, a consultation, a room and bags of medications, the total cost came to less than $100.


My unscheduled visit to Bumrungrad taught me an old lesson — and a new one. For decades, Americans have known they could obtain cheaper health care abroad, and have slipped off to Mexico for small surgeries or Canada for prescription drugs. But more and more people now recognize foreign hospitals can deliver not only cheap but also high-quality health care, and are considering medical tourism even for serious health problems. When I returned to the United States, in fact, I found myself longing for Bumrungrad. On a follow-up visit to an American doctor, I waited in a small room after telling him about my dengue fever diagnosis. After a while, when he hadn’t returned, I poked my head into the hall, and discovered him thumbing through a book to find information about dengue fever.


Now, the United States health establishment may be coming to the same realization I did. To be sure, insurers’ worries about quality control and liability risk at foreign hospitals may still keep them from embracing medical tourism. But with spending on health care in America topping $2 trillion, baby boomers aging and the pool of uninsured rising above 43 million, insurers, smaller employers and individual Americans without insurance are looking at overseas care as an alternative for costly treatments, even for complex procedures like heart surgery and procedures excluded from coverage in the United States. Already, more than 150,000 people travel abroad each year for health care.


According to ”Patients Without Borders: Everybody’s Guide to Affordable, World-Class Medical Tourism,” a new book by Josef Woodman, overseas care can trim 60 to 80 percent, or more, off the price of major surgeries. Its comparison, for example, shows that a heart bypass in India costs one-thirteenth the price in America, and many foreign hospitals also offer postoperative care that includes a high degree of attention from hospital staff members.


Several insurers have proven to be medical tourism pioneers. United Group Programs, a Florida insurance company, now offers plans that reimburse types of overseas care, and works with Apollo, a leading hospital in Chennai, India. Health Net, another insurer, now offers subscribers in Southern California some coverage at medical facilities across the border in Mexico.



In South Carolina, BlueCross BlueShield, one of the top brand names, recently signed an agreement with Bumrungrad itself. Other major American health insurers are said to be considering covering some types of offshore medical procedures. The Joint Commission International, an organization that inspects hospitals, now analyzes foreign medical centers to see if they meet high American standards. (The Internet also makes it easier for potential medical travelers to get references who can comment on the skills of doctors overseas.)


Entrepreneurs are starting travel companies to bring Americans to foreign hospitals — trips that sometimes combine treatment with a short vacation or recovery period, like an African safari or a recovery weekend at a Thai beach. Many of these companies now specialize just in one country or region. IndUSHealth, for example, which is based in North Carolina, organizes trips to Indian hospitals; PlanetHospital, based in New York, focuses on trips to Mexico, Central America and Singapore.


This March, I returned to Bumrungrad, which has become internationally famous for medical tourism and now treats more than 400,000 foreign patients each year. I found the same chic Italian and Japanese restaurants and fawning service — but the hospital had gone even higher-end. Middle Eastern families whooshed into the lobby from Bumrungrad-provided limousines and into private rooms. Young Thai Bumrungrad employees welcomed Japanese patients with a bow and a welcome present, like hotel greeters.


Other Thai hospitals desperately try to keep pace, installing hotel-like rooms and upscale restaurants and developing specialties such as sex-change operations. Competitors in Singapore, India, Hungary, Argentina, Turkey, Brazil, Costa Rica, the Philippines, South Africa and Dubai have also entered the medical tourism market, often backed by intense government promotion of medical tourism. (Singapore hopes to attract one million medical travelers by 2012.)


Many of these hospitals compete not only on the quality of care but also on other amenities. The Apollo hospital in Chennai has a gym and yoga studio, and Singapore has launched a series of ”medi-spas,” which mix medical treatments and spa services like massage or facials. Costa Rica advertises ”recovery retreats” that are like ranches created for recuperating medical tourists.


But just as American travelers begin getting comfortable with the safety of foreign hospitals, they face a new question. With developing world hospitals focusing on medical tourists, some may take doctors away from understaffed public clinics in nations like India and Thailand, potentially leading to a public backlash against medical visitors. Already, the press in Thailand and India has warned that medical tourism, which can be more lucrative for physicians, is sucking doctors away from public clinics.


Only days after my luxury dengue treatment at Bumrungrad, I saw this other side. At a larger Thai hospital where I’d walked in after feeling my fever spiking, I sat on a hard bench in the middle of a waiting room littered with cigarette butts and empty plastic bottles. For over an hour, no one called me. When a nurse finally approached me, she warned there wouldn’t be any doctors around for hours, and then turned and walked away.


I got up and took a cab to Bumrungrad.



RP hospitals now providing stem-cell treatments

In ALL ARTICLES, STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS on March 9, 2009 at 3:27 am


Written by Jesse Edep / Researcher
Sunday, 08 March 2009 19:35

The flattening of the world’s economy has spawned a new trend in the local medical-tourism industry: Foreigners are starting to come to the Philippines because of the country’s ever-growing availability of cheap but reliable regenerative or stem-cell treatments.

Dr. Samuel Bernal, consultant on regenerative medicine for the Medical City, said some hospitals in the Philippines are starting to gain vigor in stem-cell treatments. Patients treated last year reached over 100 in number…

RP hospitals now providing stem-cell treatments

For Those Considering Doing Stem Cell Therapy Abroad

In ALL ARTICLES, Dr Payne on February 23, 2009 at 5:33 pm
Medical Tourism

Medical Tourism

For Those Considering Doing Stem Cell Therapy Abroad – Private stem cells clinics abound and many are ripping people off and causing more harm than good. Learn what questions to ask before you sign that agreement or consent form!

‘stem-cell tourists’ (& alphainventions)


Dr Insoo Hyun, from the International Society for Stem Cell Research, based in the United States, echoed the concerns of experts in Scotland.

“My sense is this is a growing problem,” he said. “There are a number of studies showing a proliferation of these stem-cell clinics popping up across the world. Patients need to know there are no proven therapies using embryonic stem cells.”

‘stem-cell tourists’
Moira Ogilvie travelled to China for treatment
Moira Ogilvie travelled to China for treatment
Click on thumbnail to view image
Click on thumbnail to view image
Click on thumbnail to view image

Case study: Treatment trips cost me £10,000 – but I’m convinced they work

AUDREY Hynd-Gaw has twice left her home to travel abroad for stem cell therapies to treat her multiple sclerosis. In the first treatment three years ago, she had stem cells from donated umbilical cord injected under the skin near her temples and spine in Ireland.

Then last year, she travelled to Cologne where she had a therapy which involved removing her own stem cells (autologous adult stem cells), treating them and then putting them back by lumbar puncture.

She has spent more than £10,000 on the two trips, but believes they have helped slow down the progress of her disease and given her more energy. She says she would like to go again.

“I think it has worked for me,” the 39-year-old said. “It could be a placebo effect but if it works, that is fine with me.”

Mrs Hynd-Gaw was diagnosed with MS 20 years ago, and felt she had no other option but to try the treatments as her condition got worse. “I just feel I have to try anything I can.”

The artist, of Prestwick, who has a 10-year-old son Cameron, said researchers needed to take a chance and start using more experimental treatments if science was ever to progress.

“There has been a lot of debate about these treatments. But I think if they are only going to do tests on rats and mice, they are never going to make a breakthrough with MS.”

Mrs Hynd-Gaw said she had never been misled or misinformed about the treatments, and was never told she would be cured.

“I want people to know that there are options out there for them, though they are not without risk.”


And don’t forget that the “The Stem Cell Blog” (https://repairstemcell.wordpress.com) can now be found under the Health category of AlphaInventions.com


David Granovsky
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