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What Hospital Administrators Should Know About Medical Tourism

Med_Tour.jpgWhen David Dupray faced a $35,000 bill for a recommended stent placement for a left iliac artery stenosis, he was forced to consider his options. Instead of comparing procedures at hospitals in his area or even state, he left the country.

Dupray discovered that what would have been a $35,000 procedure in his home state of Maine was nearly half that price in Thailand.

Dupray represents the growing number of Americans taking advantage of medical tourism and searching for affordable, quality medical care overseas.

Medical tourism is expected to be a $100 billion industry by 2025, according to the Medical Tourism Index.

The Draw of Medical Tourism Hospitals

People are seeking medical care abroad because it gives them:

  • Lower healthcare costs
  • The opportunity to combine treatments with attractive destinations
  • Access to drugs and treatments not available in the United States

Nearly 750,000 U.S. residents travel abroad for medical care each year. The most common procedures patients leave the country for include heart surgery, dentistry and cosmetic surgery.

How Your Hospital Can Benefit from Medical Tourism to the U.S.

If you’ve been too busy with other obligations—like Affordable Care Act reporting managed care contracting—don’t worry. Many hospitals don’t realize the opportunities available from medical tourism, says Maria Todd, author of the Handbook of Medical Tourism and Program Development.

Here are some ways your facility can become a medical tourism destination.

Focus on what you do well: Does your facility excel at CABG surgery, hip replacements or knee replacements? Todd recommends building on these rather than trying to create an entirely new service line, and focusing on trust. When choosing where to receive their health care, people want to know they can trust the facility and the staff who will be caring for them.

Allow for outliers: Bundling cases for medical tourism patients requires knowing the cost for each case, which most hospitals don’t have readily available, notes Todd. However, Todd says, you could create a contingency for each case. For example, you could provide a rate for a cardiac stent procedure and then the costs for any additional stents that may be needed.

How The Cleveland Clinic Does Medical Tourism

One of the world’s most recognized medical facilities, The Cleveland Clinic, has a dedicated team for global patients. The Clinic’s Global Patient Services page lays out everything someone researching a medical tourism destination needs: travel assistance, language assistance, billing and financial information and much more.

Medical tourism doesn’t have to be reserved for hospitals in foreign locales. Highlighting your facility’s expertise and using content to connect with patients can help make your facility a destination for medical travelers.

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