Medical tourism wannabes

Posted: July 30, 2010 in Health

Clicking through my Google alerts today I see a couple of stories that just seem to be wannabe groups trying to label themselves as medical tourism destinations. First is the story from the online version of the Philippine Star with a story that starts like this:

As a major medical tourism destination, the Philippines is given the chance to show to the world how advanced its medical facilities and expertise are.

No, you aren’t, at least not yet, a major medical tourism destination. I know you want to be, and yes you have a lot of great nurses, although most of them have moved to other countries. But the Philippines is way down the list of medical tourism destinations, and now that everybody wants to be one the competition is only going to get tougher, so it will take much more that calling yourself one to be one.

Also in that story is this little gem:

The medical spa concept was created by Valdecañas herself.

The reference is to Dr. Mary Jane Torres Valdecañas who is the founder of the Zen Institute, a medical spa in the Philippines. Another doubtful claim. Medical spas have been around for quite a while. Is this doctor really the person who created the concept? I think they are trying too hard in the Philippines.

Next we check in with the International Medical Travel Journal, “The World Leading Journal for the Medical Travel Sector”. Hmm, more big claims. But that’s not really the point. It’s the story about inbound medical tourism to the USA and UK. Again. Again, just calling yourself a destination doesn’t make you one. The flight to better care at affordable prices without wait times is away from these two countries. Ah, this quote gives you their angle:

Travelling to the U.S. for healthcare can be costly and complicated for international travellers. Usually, the patients are wealthy people who can afford high quality care. In this fast growing market the U.S. has a chance to be very competitive.

I see, if you can afford to pay outrageous prices and navigate the travel complexities then the U.S. is for you. Great marketing concept.

  1. keithpollard says:

    >>>It’s the story about inbound medical tourism to the USA and UK. Again. Again, just calling yourself a destination doesn’t make you one.

    I’m afraid you’re showing your lack of knowledge of the medical tourism sector here. The US and the UK are hardly “medical tourism wannabes”.

    >>>this quote gives you their angle:

    There’s no angle here. It’s just factual reporting. If we take the UK, the dollar value of inbound medical tourism is far, far greater than the value of outbound medical tourism. The press, media (and the bloggers) only ever talk about the sector of medical tourism which is driven by patients seeking low cost treatment. And forgot about that sector of the market which is driven by expertise, quality and treatment outcomes and is paid for by governments and employers rather than individuals.

    • geomark says:

      I’ve been at this a while so “lack of knowledge” doesn’t find a place here on this subject.

      The UK is perhaps the most famous destination from which people flee. And not for cost. In the UK it is all about wait times. Same or better expertise is available at the true medical tourism destinations – without the wait. The fact that it’s a fraction of the cost is what makes it feasible but that’s not the primary motivation.

      “Paid for by governments and employers rather than individuals”…so this “dollar value of inbound medical tourism” you are referring to is actually benefits paid by government and employers, not individuals. Now that’s a creative way to puff up a number for an industry that doesn’t really exist. I bet I could make up some good numbers for the U.S. just by adding up all the employer benefits paid for people working on H1-B visas (work visa for foreign nationals in the U.S.). Or to really make it big I could include tax payer funded health care that 12 million illegal aliens in the U.S. receive and call that “inbound medical tourism” to the U.S. Yeah, well, that’s not medical tourism.

  2. keithpollard says:

    Don’t really want to get into a slanging match here!
    I have no idea who you are or what your credentials are. Nor do the readers of your blog because your “About” section is blank which is a bit of an omission if you have been blogging since 2006.

    You’re reinforcing “medical tourism myths” that have little sound basis in fact.

    “The UK is perhaps the most famous destination from which people flee.”
    Fact….or fiction…or media hype. Don’t believe all that you read. The UK has a healthcare system that many countries would want to emulate if they were able to start from scratch (including the USA).

    “In the UK it is all about wait times.”
    Sorry, but again you are showing your lack of knowledge or reluctance to research the issues that you are commenting on. Have you reviewed the current waiting times in the UK? Most people are happy to wait a few weeks (it’s not months or years) and get their operation done for free under the NHS rather than pay to have an operation in a foreign country.

    I am a regular and respected blogger myself (link removed), but I’m very careful to blog about those areas of healthcare that I have expert knowledge on. And i always try to make sure that i have my facts right.

    • geomark says:

      Either you are being disingenuous when you talk about UK wait times, or you are trolling to drop a link, so your link was removed.

      Certainly you must know that you are just being annoying with your “lack of knowledge” comments and attempts at credentialism – BTW, being a respected blogger isn’t much in the way of credentials. My creds aren’t up for your review, although I will say that when I give my commentary on news stories I test it against my first hand experience.

      I’m not selling anything here. I write about my personal experiences and I like to call out people’s BS – people trying to sell the UK and U.S.A as medical tourism destinations would be that kind of BS.

      Although…U.S. has been a destination for Canadians due to the wait time problem in Canada. They even developed a new insurance product called wait list insurance. Interesting concept – buy a policy to protect yourself in case you have to leave the country for treatment because your wait is so long, the benefit usually paid for treatment in the U.S. That’s another story, although related because even Canada is trying to become a medical tourism destination.

      So, keep commenting if you like but let’s have some of those facts you say you have right to backup your claims. I particularly like the thing about counting government subsidized health care as part of inbound medical tourism. If there is some twist that makes that a valid measure I would like to hear it.

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