Medical tourism news - July 2009

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Travel insurance providers continue responding to swine flu panic

Direct Line will treat travel insurance for swine flu just like any other illness, responding to an outbreak of concern about the recent pandemic. "We advise our customers to remain calm and to protect themselves by obtaining any relevant documentation that will assist them should they need to make a claim", said Chris Price, head of Travel Insurance at Direct Line. This documentation includes receipts, ticket stubs or any other relevant proof of travel. Price also recommends carrying an Emergency Health Insurance Card when travelling through Europe, though this does not serve as a travel insurance replacement. For more information on the travel insurance coverage of swine flue, click the link below:

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Eastern Europe growing hotspot for Medical Tourism

The low costs and rising quality of health care is making eastern European countries increasingly popular destinations for surgery abroad. Russians make up a significant proportion of these travellers, seeking treatments that aren't available back home. Cyprus clinics are now treating more foreign patients than local ones. Stem Cells for Home, an American-based company working in stem cell transplantation therapy, has clinics in the Ukraine and the Republic of Georgia. A $5 billion medical tourism centre is under way in Turkmenistan. Armenia is mainly known for cosmetic and dental treatment, but more invasive procedures, such as open-heart surgery, are also widely available. Croatia has become popular for dentistry and cosmetic surgeries, such as face lifts, liposuction and breast enlargements. The Czech Republic brings tourists in for dental care, and Yerevan clinics perform laser hair removal and corrective laser eye surgery. For more information on the growth of medical tourism in eastern Europe, click the link below:

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Travel insurance will cover swine flu

Travellers who contract swine flue while abroad will receive health care coverage, AA travel insurance said. In order to make a claim on travel insurance, the policy must have been taken out before the patient fell ill, and in all cases, a doctor or the NHS helpline must confirm the sickness. "Case by case, we are treating swine flu the same way we would any severe illness while on holiday," said Christian Young, director of AA travel insurance, in an interview with Fair Investment Company. If an airport scanner detects a serious illness and the passenger is refused travel, the expenses will also be covered under the travel insurance policy, Young continued. For more information on the travel insurance coverage of swine flue, click the link below:

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Frequent flier programs cut fees and add features

United Air lines will cut fees ranging from $75 to $100 per ticket it had previously charged to frequent flier trips booked fewer than 21 days in advance, starting Thursday. United's move marks an industry break in the trend of charging fees to loyalty programs to balance the costs of free trips. "Mileage Plus members are our most loyal customers", United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said to the Chicago Tribune. "To ensure they stay loyal to United, we need to reward them". This comes coincides with Delta Air Lines' expansion of its frequent flier program as it merges policies with new partner, Northwest Airlines. Delta will allow its SkyMiles members to rollover unused miles from one year to the other. For more information on the frequent flier fee reductions, click the link below:,0,5983654.story

Monday, 27 July 2009

Japan pushes medical tourism to pay the health costs of its ageing population

Japan will start marketing its medical services at well-to-do tourists to raise more revenue for its health care sector, currently strained by an ageing population, according to this month's report from Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. About 22 percent of the Japanese population, or 28 million people, is aged 65 years or older, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. This marks a 10 percent increase from 1990. Starting in September, ten of Japan's biggest hospitals will work with travel and translation companies to organize tour packages, which will include medical care coupled with cultural sightseeing. The country aims to offer hard-to-find health care services, such as gene diagnosis and regenerative therapies. "Medical services are important as an industry," Toshiaki Shibata, a researcher at Mitsubishi Research Institute in Tokyo, said to Bloomberg. "In terms of employment, regional medical institutions have a broad base and involving related businesses may help increase national income." For more information on the increase of medical tourism in Japan, click the link below:

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Tourism up in Malaysia despite recent H1N1 cases

Tourism to Malaysia grew by 7.5% in June after a small 0.3% decline in May. The increase in tourism came despite an increase in confirmed H1N1 cases in the country. Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen believes that the reason for the increase in tourism can be credited to medical tourism. "Malaysia is also the place to see the fusion of Eastern traditional healing methods blending with the modern sciences of the West," she said. Malaysia was recently reported by Deloitte as the most preferred destination for medical tourism in East Asia. For more information on the increase in tourism to Malaysia, click the link below:

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

South Florida seeing medical tourists from the Bahamas

The Bank of the Bahamas announced this week that a new Visa card has been created to give Bahamians large discounts at select South Florida hospitals. Seven hospitals have already signed up, and are offering discounts of 30-60 percent to cardholders. South Florida hospitals have been suggesting increased efforts in medical tourism for a long time and believe that this will help them during the recession by creating more business. "We're going to be the world's No. 1 international gateway for healthcare," said Rolando D. Rodriguez of Jackson Memorial Hospital, one of the participating hospitals. For more information on the new Bahamian Visa card, click the link below:

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

MedHealth and Wellness Exhibition in Oman set for October

The Ministry of Health from the Sultanate of Oman has announced an international medical exhibition to be held in Oman in October. The MedHealth & Wellness exhibition will take place on 19-21 October 2009 at the Oman International Exhibition Centre. The exhibition was designed to contribute to the learning process of increasing medical standards and to promote products, equipment, and services. The exhibition was designed for healthcare professionals, but all interested in their health and well-being are invited to come. The Sultanate of Oman is a small Arab country in southwest Asia with a population of just under 2.6 million. Oman is a popular tourist destination with its miles of coastline offering some of the cleanest and beautiful beaches in the world. For more information about the Oman Expo, click the link below:

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council established

The Malaysian Health Ministry has created the Malaysia Healthcare Travel council (MHTC) in an effort to promote medical tourism to the country. Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has stated that medical tourism needs to be part of the country's strategy to spur economic growth. "Medical tourism has 20 percent growth every year, we still expect 10 percent growth this year despite economic downturn," said Razak. Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the MHTC will set direction for the healthcare industry in Malaysia though dealing with policy issues. Malaysia welcomed 375,000 medical tourists last year. For more information about the creation of the MHTC, click the link below:

Monday, 20 July 2009

Costa Rican Medical Care to interview medical tourism experts

The Costa Rican Medical Care (CRMC) will be interviewing medical tourism experts Brad and Bill Cook on 22 July 2009. Brad Cook is the manager of the International Department at Hospital Clinica Biblica in San Jose, and Bill Cook is involved with coordination of getting international patients to the hospital. "This is an excellent opportunity for people to get answers to many questions they may have on Medical Tourism. Brad and Bill Cook are two of the most qualified authorities on the subject of medical tourism, not only in Costa Rica but worldwide," said Tim Morales of Costa Rican Medical Care. For more information about the Bill and Brad Cook interview, click the link below:

Thursday, 16 July 2009

MTA and OneWorld visit Panama

Members of the MTA joined OneWorld Global Healthcare Solutions president, Alex Piper, on a visit to Panama last month. The purpose of the visit was to inform key players in the Panama medical tourism industry about growth and trends in the industry. Piper and MTA members visited Panama hospitals and clinics, and did some sightseeing at some of Panama's tourist attractions. "2009 has been a great year for medical tourism because we are seeing destinations positioning themselves, and a growing interest from American companies, insurance companies and government," said Piper. OneWorld is a consulting company for medical tourism. For more information about OneWorld's visit to Panama, click the link below:

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Lebanon looking to boost cosmetic surgery tourism

Cosmetic surgery has long been popular in Lebanon and now the Lebanon tourism ministry is trying to take advantage of that and increase medical tourism to Lebanon. Image Concept, a Dubai based private firm under the authority of the Lebanon tourism ministry, has launched a cosmetic surgery tourism initiative aimed at facilitating trips of medical tourists to Lebanon. Tourism in Lebanon took a large hit during political turmoil and violence between 2005 and 2008, but after stabilisation of the area, Lebanon is looking to regain the tourism they lost during those four years. The tourism industry recovered with 1.3 million visitors last summer and hopes to reach 2 million visitors by the end of this year. For more information about Lebanon cosmetic surgery tourism, click the link below:

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

India launches medical travel association

India has launched the Indian Medical Travel Association (IMTA) in an effort to bring together healthcare providers and medical tourism industry providers to promote India as a healthcare destination. "The fact is that prior to choosing a hospital, the international patients first decide on the country or the destination. Therefore, we all must join hands to aggressively promote India as a preferred global healthcare destination," said Pradeep Thukral, Executive Director of the IMTA. Only a few hospitals in India have been actively marketing to international patients, but the creation of the IMTA is expected to increase efforts by Indian healthcare providers to attract international patients to their world-renowned hospitals. For more information on the launch of the Indian Medical Travel Association, click the link below:

Monday, 13 July 2009

Familiarization Tour of Jordan planned by MTA

The Medical Tourism Association will be hosting a Familiarization (FAM) tour of the country of Jordan next week. Ten companies who specialise in either medial tourism facilitation or medical tourism insurance will participate in the tour. The ten companies will learn about Jordanian healthcare, accreditation, culture, and hospitality of the people. The tour includes stops at top hospitals such as: Jordon Hospital, Specialty Hospital, Istishari Hospital, and Israa Hospital. The tour will also make a stop at the Healthcare Accreditation Council and cultural excursions to Petra and the Dead Sea. For more information about the Familiarization Tour, click the link below:

Thursday, 9 July 2009

More Indonesians becoming medical tourists

People from Indonesia are increasingly travelling abroad for medical treatment. In 2007, Thailand welcomed 600,000 medical tourists from Indonesia, and 400,000 went to India. Indonesians are leaving due to high costs for healthcare at home, and concerns over healthcare standards in Indonesia. In response to the growing market, Garuda Sentra Medika and Sun Health Care formed Garuda Air Ambulance Indonesia. Garuda Air Ambulance Indonesia is a service to Indonesians that arranges all aspects of a medical tourism trip, including selection of healthcare provider and transportation. For more information about the new Indonesian trend, visit the link below:

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Confederation of Indian Industry holds seminar on hospital accreditation

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) recently held a medical tourism seminar in New Delhi called "Accreditation of Hospitals". The seminar was designed to promote the importance of Indian hospitals receiving international accreditation to brand India as a top medical tourism destination. The CII emphasised the need for accreditation in all areas, including cleaning, quality of staff, employee qualification, expertise, and medical equipment. CII officials said they would support all hospitals looking to become accredited using guidance from the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers, an Indian accreditation board. For more information on the "Accreditation of Hospitals" seminar, visit the link below:

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

International Association of Medical Tourism announces name change

The International Association of Medical Tourism has announced they have changed their name to the International Wellness and Healthcare Travel Association (IWHTA). The rebranding effort was designed to differentiate itself from the Medical Tourism Association. President of the association Naresh Jadeja said, "It's new name... clearly distinct from other associations in the industry, shows that we are broadening our membership services but still focused on patient's needs to get the higher quality affordable and accessible medical treatment." Despite the name change, the IWHTA remains committed to its core principle of facilitating patients looking for worldwide healthcare with elite international wellness service providers. For more information about the name change, click on the link below:

Monday, 6 July 2009

South Korea to train medical interpreters

The South Korean government has begun a program to train 65 medical interpreters to bridge the communication barrier between doctors and foreign patients. The 65 trainees will undergo a 200-hour program in English, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or Arabic. All 65 are proficient in Korean and their own respective language. The programs will consist of understanding medical communications, methods of consulting patients, domestic and international health laws, health insurance coverage, and understanding major diseases and their treatments. Trainees will take field trips to major Korean hospitals that target medical tourists as part of the learning process. Sessions are set to run from July 18 through December 12. For more information on South Korea's medical interpreters, click the link below:

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Indian government to announce new medical tourism policy guidelines

Union Tourism Minister Kumari Selja has stated that the Indian government will soon be announcing new policy guidelines for promoting the medical tourism industry in India. "Wellness tourism as you know is a new catchword all over world and India has lot to offer. So we will be promoting traditional Ayurveda and Siddha systems and also medical tourism in India has again huge potential," Selja said. Selja also said there will be health tourism road shows promoting India as a destination beginning in Scandinavian countries in late August 2009. For more information, click the link below:

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Renée-Marie Stephano new president of MTA

The Medical Tourism Association has announced that Renee-Marie Stephano will be their new President. She was formally the Chief Operating Officer and continues to be the editor of Medical Tourism Magazine. "This is a tremendous opportunity for me to further the development of the association in the areas of research and education", said Stephano. Stephano holds a Juris Doctorate degree in law and has a background in international marketing, health law, opened her own law firm, and spend six years as general counsel for the first US national healthcare administrator to implement medical tourism into health insurance plans in the US. For more information about Stephano's MTA promotion, click the link below: