Lawmakers in Phillipines to promote medical tourism for more jobs

Incoming 1-Pacman Party-list Rep. Mikee Romero said on Monday he is helping the incoming Duterte administra-tion in crafting measures that can generate millions of job for Filipinos for the next six years.

Among the priorities of Romero is medical tourism that makes Thailand famous and now contributing USD25 billion in government’s coffer annually.

He said that they had already well-trained and internationally renowned doctors who were just waiting for gov-ernment support to open the medical tourism in the country.

“Imagine if we can get a share of at least USD10 billion worth of medical tourism from Thailand, that would trans-late to about 500,000 additional job opportunities for Filipinos,” Romero said.


Jamaica to promote medical tourism

Jamaica’s trade and investment promotion arm Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) will be hosting two business forums that promote Jamaica as a destination for medical tourism investments, business partnerships and dental tourism.

The Do Business Jamaica Forum on Medical Tourism will provide insight into the business opportunities within Jamaica’s medical tourism industry, which the Government of Jamaica has targeted as a key driver of economic growth.  The events follow a lecture held in Jamaica last year, and are part of JAMPRO’s strategy to promote investment into Jamaica’s growing Medical Tourism sector.

The Agency has identified medical tourism as an area with high potential for growth, as it has already attracted over $15 million euros in foreign investments through the Spanish Group, Hospiten, as well as developments such as G West in Montego Bay. Jamaica is also commonly used by members of the Diaspora to receive dental, diagnostic and non-invasive services, and provides low-cost healthcare alternatives for persons living in the United States.

JAMPRO’s President Diane Edwards said the organization has intensified its programme to target medical tourism investments due to the impact it would have on multiple sectors in the economy and its potential for wealth creation. The forums would provide the platform to reach markets that have many members of the Diaspora and a high number of travelers to Jamaica each year.

Edwards explained, “It is estimated by the OECD that 30-50 million medical tourists travel for services each year. Jamaica already has a successful tourism product and remarkable medical services, so for JAMPRO, a medical tourism industry is a natural progression for Jamaica to take. We are pushing for some off those travellers to come to Jamaica, have their medical services and still experience Jamaica. Those dollars will not only benefit medical practitioners, but other aspects of the tourist industry and overall economy such as resorts, tour operators and spas. Medical tourists are estimated to spend at least 10 times the average tourist plus are usually accompanied by a family member, which yields an additional spend.“

Dr. Jacqueline A. Watson, a member of Jamaica’s Diaspora, will be leading and making the keynote address at the forums. She is President and CEO of the Washington DC based healthcare management and strategy consulting firm, Health Concepts International LLC.

The Do Business Jamaica Forum on Medical Tourism is supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the Government of Canada through Compete Caribbean. JAMPRO is an agency of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.

Dubai hospital wins best international hospital award by Medical Travel Journal

Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai (Moorfields) was the winner of the ‘International Eye Clinic of the Year’ award at the annual IMTJ Medical Travel Awards 2016, held recently in Madrid, Spain. The awards attract entries from hospitals and clinics around the world. Moorfields won the international medical tourism award for its success in attracting international patients to Dubai.

Moorfields actively supports Dubai Healthcare City’s programme to develop healthcare tourism, which focuses on a number of key clinical areas, including eye care. Since opening the hospital in Dubai in 2007, Moorfields has treated more than 100,000 patients from over 180 countries, many from the GCC and wider Middle East region in addition to the UAE, for some of the most complex eye conditions.

Dubai’s debate over Medical Tourism Figures

The headline figures are that Dubai had 630,833 medical tourists in 2015 and targets a million by 2020. But only 296,491 (47%) came from outside of the UAE. Total revenue from both types was US$400 million. Both categories include expatriates working in the Gulf.

Dr Layla Al Marzouqi of the Dubai Medical Tourism Project openly admits that of that 630,833 only 296,491 came from outside of the UAE. The 2020 target for this sector is 500,000.

The figures only come from the 26 hospitals and clinics in Dubai that are responsible for medical tourism. This suggests that actual figures could be higher. In the future the other 2,730 health care facilities in Dubai will collect data to provide a more comprehensive picture of the actual number of medical tourists. But in Dubai there are only 31 hospitals, so the extra numbers from this mass data collection are not expected to be high.

Apollo Hospitals Medical Tourism business to expand

Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd (AHEL) is expecting its business from international patients to double in the next three years.

International patients pay a premium for treatment over the domestic charge, said company officials. At present, 10-15 per cent of revenue is from foreign patients and the company expects this to go up to 25 per cent in two years, says the management.

It would focus on select centres, including the proposed Navi Mumbai hospital, expected to open this month for international patients. It would attract more of them due to the location and connectivity to other countries, said Suneeta Reddy, managing director, in a recent earnings call with analysts.

A majority of the international patients are from neighbouring countries, Africa and West Asia. Apollo will try to expand the reach to more countries, including Britain, said a senior official. The inflow of patients from the countries where it is already present itself will see an increase during the period, he added.

Travel agents looking forward to Medical Tourism

With all the options available to book a flight – from laptop computers to smart phone applications – internet savvy bargain shoppers may view the notion of using travel agents as old-fashioned as a doctor who makes house calls.

Well, these days, news of the demise of the travel agent is quite premature. Instead, travel agents are discovering new ways to reinvent their businesses through niche-industry marketing and value-added product design.

In some respects, travel agents, doctors and spas have actually joined forces at the hip to offer health and wellness seekers quality healthcare services overseas that, in all likelihood, will be less expensive than similar treatments and therapies available from the neighborhood physician down the road. Due in part to an elevated understanding of the value of prevention, health checks, dental procedures and diagnostic testing abroad brings new meaning to being “fit for travel.”

Just when some travel agents were suggested to go by way of the dinosaur, many are now redefining their businesses into a profitable cottage industry for themselves, spas, health and wellness providers alike. That burgeoning enterprise includes wellness and medical tourism.

Fit for Travel

Think of the travel agent whose attention to detail stopped short of pulling down the sheets for newlyweds on their dream honeymoon. Now, consider the travel professional asked to go beyond that extra yard and book a wellness experience that might include a treatment that meets a client’s physical and emotional needs, transfer of health records, arrangement of hotel and flight accommodations, and an appearance at the airport when the patient arrives. That’s what a travel agent versed in wellness tourism can and should be willing to do to remain competitive in a medical tourism industry that is expected to become even more ambitious and lucrative in the years ahead.


 Sizeable, Sustainable Rewards

If all this sounds like a lot for a travel agent to comprehend, it is. But, the rewards for those involved with medical and wellness tourism are potentially sizeable and sustainable. Healthcare providers know this and have slowly come around to realize that the combination of travel and wellness is an altogether different animal.

That’s why at events around the world, health-focused companies are aggressively identifying and courting travel agents to form partnerships that streamline wellness and medical tourism processes to the benefit of both patients and their thriving businesses.

Spa and Wellness Travelers

Wellness travel is one of the fastest growing trends in medical tourism today.

According to a report released by Technavio, “The global destination spa market is likely to reach USD 15 billion, growing at a CAGR of almost 9%.” The report also stated that due to improved economic conditions worldwide, the destination spa segment is expected to growth even more over the next five years and that wellness tourists are the primary customers for destination spas- with 15% of them visiting these spas while on their trip.

Yoga Goes Mainstream

In this respect, travel agents might be more apt to connect an older client with a plan that incorporates rehabilitation treatments and how to prevent diseases, such as osteoporosis, compared to a younger audience who might be more suited to an approach that focuses on maintaining their fresh and natural look. Both demographics represent a growing number of people intent on developing better fitness habits and lifestyle-changing behaviors to live longer, happier and more productive lives. Wellness tourism allows these seekers opportunities not available and often not affordable at home in addition to enhancing the value of well-needed vacation time.

No matter the guise, wellness tourism does not have to be an exotic concept in itself. Spas and their treatments have, in truth, gone mainstream, with travel agents reporting heavy interest among clients seeking specific programs like stress reduction, fitness, and weight loss. Modern spas are now shifting toward integrating fitness, complementary and alternative medicines, preventative health, advanced beauty and anti-aging, and weight loss and nutrition with ancient remedies to attract new followers, who expect to receive dedicated support and guidance from the best yoga instructors, nutritionists, doctors, and personal trainers the world has to offer.

Healthy, Productive Employees

This popular trend has the backing of many self-funded employer insurance packages that put a premium on making healthy workers become more productive employees. Both the health-obsessed Baby Boomer generation and the retired crowd as well should continue to fuel this engine and influence where people go and what people do during their vacations.

Corporate wellness programs offered through employers also envision a healthier option for executives to prevent burnout and to take healthier options in their selection of business trip hotels.

All this puts an added emphasis on travel agents to remain up-to-date and understand the tenets of wellness when asked to design creative and attractive offerings that help maintain or enhance the personal health or emotional states of the clients and the corporations they serve.

As more clients begin to grasp the idea of wellness and the need and desire to feel better, more relaxed and connected to their own community, travel agents will have no choice, but to focus more on prevention, maintenance, interventions and nutrition as an ongoing foundation for their health and fitness consultations.

In this respect, travel agents will be held to know that a pillow menu can be just as important to the vacation experience as passports or pedicures are to clients who opt to dip toes in another country’s culture on a holistic level. These simple nuances may make the difference in increased revenues, developing new partnerships and expanding market shares.

With this in mind, educational programs are sprouting up in convenient and supportive locations to encourage travel agents who are passionate in professional development and interested in current information about medical tourism, corporate wellness and health destinations to learn about successful case studies, industry best-practices and product and service innovations.

Bright Forecast

Healthcare reform, rising medical costs and economic factors affecting competing travel destinations and providers make the climate ripe for proactive travel agents who have the foresight and intuition to predict tourism trends. As borders to healthcare continue to be redistributed, choosing the right flight plan to minimize connections for a medical and wellness tourist returning from treatment or therapy abroad may be as crucial as forecasting cloud patterns.

Travel agents then become even more imperative for connecting the dots for clients, who themselves are challenged enough to become more familiar with expanding medical and wellness tourism destinations and practices.

A basic understanding of medical and wellness procedures a patient may be interested in, their physical condition, finances, previous international travel experience and personal preferences are just some of the prerequisites that travel agents will need to equip themselves with in order to stay afoot with an evolving learning curve for the sake of keeping their businesses relevant and thriving.