Surgery was on his bucket list, but Bruce Ryan didn’t want to wait until he retired to repair his debilitating and painful rotator cuff injury. The 59-year-old construction manager in Northern California could have traveled the six hours to Stanford Medical Center, considered one of the top facilities in the United States.
“No, we went to France—to Toulouse, France —and did it,” said Ryan, chuckling at the thought. “It was great.”
All kidding aside, the American patient didn’t have to pay a dime for his medical tourism surgery in France – even $7,000 worth of deductibles and co-pays were waived – plus, he got to tour the Pyrenees Mountains, take in the local art scene, and sample baguettes, chateaux, Truffles and other French indulgences.
“The food in Toulouse was out-of-this-world,” said Ryan. “We ate like royalty.”
His employer, the Blue Lake Rancheria tribe which operates a casino and hotel in Northern California, covered all costs; yet, saved about $12,000—roughly 35 percent of what the surgery would have cost in the United States. On top of that, 10 percent of the company’s savings went directly into Ryan’s 401k plan.
Finding a good doctor—or an appropriate and affordable elective procedure—isn’t always as easy as it was for Bruce Ryan. Despite today’s economic climate which seems to have reduced healthcare options even further, a growing number of patients are looking long and hard for affordable solutions for care.
They are finding medical tourism procedures to be a creative answer to what at first appeared to be a fruitless search. These are internationally accredited providers with procedures that are readily accessible when needed. However, they are not available at their doorsteps, but rather several miles away, perhaps even in another country, where care is both inexpensive and first-rate.
Cost savings—up to 70 percent in some cases depending on the procedure—are a major driver behind medial tourism. But in the end, the patient's most satisfying rewards are his good health and his productive and improved life.
As for Ryan and Blue Lake Rancheria, both patient and employer reflect positively on their decision.
“It amazes me that the United States could be so medieval in its healthcare,” said Ryan, who is back on the job. “Surgery, both the quality and the experience, were exceptional. Of course, the cost was unbelievably affordable compared to what I would have spent in the United States on co-payments alone.”
For both patients and healthcare providers interested in medical tourism, the $64,000 question remains how, where, and when are these buying decisions made.
Neither the patients looking for medical tourism procedures nor the hospitals or facilitators attempting to provide them can rely solely upon professional or word-of-mouth referrals. Further, social media programs and other digital marketing campaigns require an overwhelming amount of time and effort to identify connect ready patients with applicable treatments.
There has to be a better way.
What if there was a gathering place where patients, providers, and facilitators were introduced to each other? A venue at which hundreds of patients came together to share their experiences and expectations? An international forum where patient, provider, and facilitator could exchange data that led to new meaningful patient-provider relationships and better treatments? And what if all of this was available now—not tomorrow, or months or years later.
There is a better way...
On September 23rd, a live webcast entitled "Ask a Patient: Making Dollars and Sense Out of the Medical Tourism Experience” will connect patients from all over the world to the hospital administrators, doctors, clinicians, facilitators, insurance executives, and hospitality and travel interests that make medical tourism happen. This webcast will stream questions and answers from active healthcare consumers detailing what they want and deserve from health travel.
This live webcast will take place during the 7th World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress, Sept. 20-24, 2014, at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, in Washington, D.C.
To learn how you can take part in this exciting event, visit http://www2.mtcongress.com/2014-patient-webcast/.