Does your doctor make house calls outside the country?


Doctors accompany their clientele to vacation homes and luxe spa recovery centers. Standards and accreditation are an international endeavor.

The rich and famous have for years taken discreet trips out of the country to take part in nip / tuck operations, rehabilitation and other medical endeavors. Now, the average American can enjoy an international medical getaway, taking the whole family for less than $ 40,000 into a knee surgery in America.

The United States has been ranked # 37 by the World Health Organization in health care, and a million people traveled outside the United States for medical-related services in 2008. A medical retreat at a tropical "luxe" spa seems to sound better and better for more people.

Need surgery – will travel
Medical tourism, undertaken as such recently, has been around since the Romans traveled to heal themselves in mysterious locales. In modern terms, the best services are raised for;
o Plastic and reconstructive surgery
o Cosmetic and general dentistry
o Bariactric medicine
o Addiction treatments
o General operations
o Health and well-being

If you are already one of the 1 million travelers or you are considering adding these numbers, you will know what this means.

Doctors around the world are joining their clients on flights, in foreign hospitals, and at 5-star spa recovery centers that look like deluxe hotels. Their alliance with international countries allows them profitability and exotic surroundings. Some may even be attracted to relaxed laws for more experimental procedures such as innovations of stem cell research that are not yet approved in the US

Today, providers like Johns Hopkins, The Mayo Clinic and Harvard (to name a few) boast overseas facilities. According to BusinessWeek, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of South Carolina also signed strategic alliances with seven overseas hospitals in 2008.

Your doctor may already book appointments in Guatemala, Thailand, Costa Rica or the Philippines. Just ask. For example, Thailand reported 1.5 million people to medical tourism in 2007. Doctors from all over the world are registered to practice there. The reach is global and so is the responsibility.

Medical marketing

My recent trip to Costa Rica on medical tourism included meetings with doctors, spas, government officials, and encouragement for a call to action for accreditation in medical spa and spa-related centers. Costa Rica hosted its first Medical Tourism Congress last year and is adapting quickly to be a leader in the industry.

Flashy ads, incentives and "medical tourism" packages bring a lot of attention to foreign medical institutions and their spa and leisure partners. Medical tourism can bring, economic growth, prestige, international alliances and goodwill. It also brings up the big question of medical standards and medical spa accreditation. How will care for foreign patients be cared for? The growth also encourages some sharp contrasts to high spending to attract medical tourists with sparkling centers and airport improvements compared to the lower public health care of its national people. Let this article stick to the first question. Standards.

Patient confidence and loyalty

A national call for action supported by the government, which is interested in accreditation, is a good starting point and was the topic of my meeting with Massimo Manzi, Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Competitiveness in Costa Rica. In close cooperation with the International Tourism Board, we discussed the growth expectations in medical tourism and the need for approval standards for spa / medical spas.

International standards are required to effectively blend the intersection with rising medical tourism and their spa recovery partnerships. The spa has become the enticing softer side of medical tourism and a huge part of its growth. The need, especially in Costa Rica, is to create a strong local incentive, create partnerships and form associations. Such as the Costa Rica Spa and Wellness Association, expected to be launched this year. After all, the goal here is competitiveness and secure the trust of potential clients.

When most countries use their own method to secure standards, where is the association and how far does accreditation go on a global scale?

According to the Medical Tourism Association, their "Quality of Care" program is working towards this and global standards of medical tourism. "This project should help the growth of medical tourism and help patients feel more comfortable and confident as they go abroad for surgery … our mission to provide 'transparency' in the quality of care data in medical tourism / global health care world. "Medical Tourism Association Worldwide are major hospitals providing these operations, already approved by JCI, Joint Commission International, including CIMA and Clinica Biblica in Costa Rica & # 39; s capital city of San Jose. JCI ensures that hospitals are up to standard or closing. When it comes to spas accreditation, we are committed to providing our spa quality expertise and driving the national call to action in Costa Rica. Spa standards, especially medically related ones, must also be held at a high level of responsibility or shut down.

Feedback from professionals

We spoke with the founder of the Day Spa Association, Hannelore Leavy, on the topic and her interest in working with various countries following the guidelines of the DSA, Day Spa Association or IMSA, International Medical Spa Association. According to Hannelore, "These guidelines are the basis of our accreditation programs that can be changed to the local laws of each country that regulate regulatory agencies." The DSA mission statement includes "… the continuous enhancement of professionalism and quality-driven services …" and the IMSA mission statement "… continuous enhancement of a practical but rigorous code of ethics based on the highest standards of care and regulated peer review. "

Continuous growth is a great way to promote industry growth and a key differentiation that we will work for in this case.

Statistics from the Costa Rica Tourist Board show approx. 250 health and cosmetic surgery operations are performed each month at Costa Rica hospitals. Ninety percent of these are done on foreigners. This is no surprise when you see the cost difference.

Stomach plug: $ 10,000 CR $ 4,500
Face Lift: US $ 12,000 CR $ 4,700

With several major hospitals and over 500 spa facilities in Costa Rica, you have your choice where to go. Hopefully one accredited by JCI and an international association that specializes in spa standards. In this case, follow-up on accreditation from the Costa Rica Spa and Wellness Association or DSA / IMSA as worldwide partners.

It doesn't matter if clients are asked for mandatory medical issues or mandatory wishes, health tourism is enjoying a good boom. This means more need for strict standards and fierce competition. Competition begs strategy. Strategy, creativity. Creativity, the opportunity to cut corners. Especially when underdeveloped countries can be very dependent on the number of tourists and medical tourism for economic growth.

There are many associations that dedicate themselves to being the voice of this industry, including the IMSA, the Medical Tourism Association and the Health Tourism International Chamber of Commerce, all of which are making great strides in standards and uniformity.

Join in the noise

This is an industry that has many layers of onions, with more to be discovered. Let's not allow "medical imperialism" with bigotry against foreign doctors, a "race" of prestigious US medical facilities to establish foreign satellites, or even fears of competition, exceed the real issues of patient care and international efforts to secure medical tourism / medical spa / spa standards.

I may be an idealist and I hope there are a few of us left, but I think we can continue to force foreign officials into their desire for accreditation and strike a balance for all involved. I will continue to promote the growth of standards and creativity without cutting corners.

You can join the cause and join in the noise by contacting Costa Rica officials on Spa / Medical Spa Standards and securing our national call for action and the launch of a local spa association. Send comments to officials to further your concerns and the need for an evaluation system with an association and standard requests for;

o President of ICT (Costa Rica Tourism Board) – Carlos Ricardo Benevides
o Central office: 011 506 2299 5800
o Minister of Tourism Planning – Antonio Farah
o Central office: 011 506 2299 5293
o Minister for Competitiveness – Massimo Manzi
o Central office: 011 506 2299 5293

In the meantime, enjoy your medical travels, and don't forget to enjoy some of the cultural aspects of the beautiful countries hosted by foreign medical tourists. Spread the word. Make a difference.