Posts Tagged ‘domestic medical tourism’

Looks like ‘domestic medical tourism’ is the hot phrase for 2012 – and a new article on Forbes.com displays this in fourteen point font.  Unfortunately, the article is the same old rehash of healthcare statistics with little to no new information on the topic.

But is there are glass ceiling on the medical tourism industry?

In overseas news – this article out of India (UK Daily Mail) portrays a different view of the medical tourism industry – one of grand dreams and schemes but a much less glamourous and glittering reality.


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It’s what I call ‘the big lie’*.  As a former resident of Canada – the notion of universal healthcare as a realistic health care solution for people in the United States is laughable.   (Because, as everyone knows – lots! of Canadians come here, to use our extremely expensive, unwieldy and complicated health care system..)

Why do they come to the USA?  Canadians come to the United States because despite all these problems – we still receive our care in a timely fashion..  It’s a reminder – that while the system doesn’t work well for the many underinsured, and uninsured in our country – medical tourism remains a two-way street.

For those who can afford it, Duke, Mass General, Sloan-Kettering, the Cleveland Clinic and several other hospitals in the United States are the destinations of choice.

These massive institutions have the money, power and resources to fund / staff and produce some of the world’s greatest medical discoveries..

For the rest of us – these facilities may be out of reach.. But does that mean we are destined to receive substandard or less than cutting-edge care?

No.  As I’ve seen from my travels – state-of-the-art facilities exist outside of these hallowed academic grounds.  Amazing medical breakthroughs, treatments and surgical techniques are not confined to American medicine.  Doctors around the world are doing great things – developing new technologies and demonstrating medical successes that truly benefit patients.  The only questions are Where? and Who?

Those are the questions we (at Cartagena Surgery) plan to try and continue to answer – one city at a time.



* I call it “the Big Lie” for many reasons (which could be another whole post) but mainly because Canadians continue to smile and pretend that their healthcare system is ‘the perfect solution’  – all while fleeing south to the USA at the first sign of serious illness.  In fairness – I offer this article from NPR as a rebuttal to my opinions of Canadian healthcare.

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The latest issue of Medical Tourism Magazine is devoted to in-bound and domestic medical tourism while HealthNews.com touts medical tourism as a solution to the health care crisis..

At the same time, proposed cuts to Medicare reimbursement schedules for physicians are predicted to further impact health care access for seniors.  (Before you start blaming the doctors – remember that the majority of health care dollars – including medicare spending is tied up in the bureaucratic paperwork shuffle back and forth from doctors and government or third-party payers.. Not to mention all the uncollectable fees from uninsured and underinsured patients.   The medicare reimbursement system is so convoluted that even simple procedures and office visits become an incomprehensible billing mess.. Right now, I think quite a few doctors would look fondly back on the days of bartering a chicken, eggs or a homemade pie for services..)

This new proposal is viewed as a solution to the previous proposed cut of 29.5% which is set to take effect on January 1, 2012.  Instead – they propose a reimbursement rate freeze for the next TEN years (for primary care, while cutting reimbursement for specialists by almost six percent per year for the next three years..)  Either plan – is bad news as we consider the out-of-control health care inflation..

Of course, the real solution is as unpalatable as fixing the tax code.. Streamlining – or simplifying the process is the obvious solution until we remember that this grossly bloated, unwieldly and inefficient system employs hundreds of thousands of people… (Just like the IRS)..  And its political suicide to suggest cutting out the real source of waste in the middle of next great depression..  Instead of eliminating these massive bureaucracies – we’ll end up with some sort of New ‘New Deal’ – with further mortgaging and hemorrhaging of our children’s economic futures..  Doctors aren’t happy, patients aren’t happy..

Is it any wonder that we have to look outside the United States for solutions to our medical crisis?

And Finally, this article in a local paper demonstrates that not all hospitals are equal in quality and care.  In this story  – a family complains about the care their mother received after developing a sternal infection following bypass surgery.  Sternal infections such as mediastinitis can be very serious – and are one of the outcome measures rated and reported as part of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) international database.  This is why potential medical travellers should use caution and research destinations (using the Hidden Gem series or similar investigative medical writing) and facilities prior to arranging for surgical care (domestic or overseas.)

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A look at week’s posting at Cartagena Surgery and our sister sites.

Here at Cartagena Surgery we’ve been talking about the role of the acute care nurse practitioner, more about TAVI (transcatheter therapies of aortic stenosis), and our new features on domestic tourism.

Over at Bogotá Surgery.org we have a new, upgraded (free) Android application that we are testing out.  We also have a new post talking about the latest research results for uniport or single port laparoscopy.  We were pleased to see more information about Dr. Fernando Arias’s HIPEC program on the web, but a little dismayed at the borrowed content.

Also, at Cirugia de Torax.org, we recently completed a series on the lung transplant program at Duke  and updated our HITHOC files with information about the thoracic surgery program at the University Medical Center in Regensburg, Germany.

It’s been a busy week but we’ll try to keep up the pace for all of our readers out there!

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As this site continues to evolve to meet the needs of our readers, we will continue to change formats, add features and other topics.  After receiving excellent feedback over at Bogotá Surgery.org and inquiries about the HIPEC procedure (as described in an interview with Dr. Fernando Arias), I am excited to announce that I will be interviewing Dr. Dan “Trey” Blazer III, a general surgeon at Duke University in Durham, NC.  The interview is tentatively scheduled for later this month.

I am happy to bring more information about this life-saving procedure and the surgeon who performs it to my readers who are unable to travel to Bogotá.

Additional information on domestic medical tourism – in the area of Lung Transplant was recently published in a series of articles on Cirugiadetorax.org

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