There are many reasons to promote health tourism, not the least of which is access to affordable and quality medical care as well as opportunities to generate revenue and build profits.
Healthcare consumers have proven a willingness to travel great distances for advanced services at reduced costs, but only when levels for high quality, effective outcomes and above all confidence, have been met.
Demand for validated treatment can influence some economies, thereby creating a greater need for ancillary services associated with travel. For this reason, health tourism has opened doors for developing countries to promote their best local hospitals and doctors who can boast low-cost and high-quality.
But, ambitious nations relying on enhanced infrastructure and advanced technologies to attract international clientele won't remain competitive in an industry that continues to expand and involve more nations.
Hospitals and related healthcare providers must ensure that human resources are both highly skilled and supported by credentials that validate capabilities.
Health tourism does not begin and end with treatment. Instead, patient experiences encompass a much broader spectrum that begins at the initial inquiry and sometimes extends beyond the return home. Along this path, services must be integrated along with standardized processes in order to yield satisfactory experiences for both patient and provider.
Agencies such as Joint Commission International, International Society for Quality in Healthcare, Accreditation Canada International and the Medical Tourism Association are among local, regional and international accrediting boards that set professional standards and help ensure that optimum outcomes are achieved.
Partnerships that integrate the roles of medical tourism stakeholders can be prerequisites for success. Universities can play a significant role in facilitating the education and training that unites these collaborations toward a common goal of satisfactory patient experiences that keep other healthcare consumers coming back.
Education that incorporates the tenets of safety and quality is a pivotal strategy for building cooperation along these lines for healthcare providers and the professionals who purchase their services.
However, universities in the Caribbean, for the most part, have failed to recognize this obligation. That is, up until now, following an agreement between the Medical Tourism Association and Universidad Iberoamericana in the Dominican Republic.
This partnership will enable UNIBE to offer MTA programs that will close gaps within the industry and make travel to the Dominican Republic for medical procedures and treatments a compelling consideration for patients throughout the Caribbean and beyond.
Education, training and brand-development programs certified through the Medical Tourism Association will assist interested hospitals, healthcare providers including doctors and clinicians, insurance entities, travel and tourism executives, and government agencies in building sustainable health and wellness enterprises.
Our partnership with the Medical Tourism Association strengthens not only expertise within the Dominican Republic but can serve as a valuable model for countries seeking a foothold in this competitive industry to follow.
Certification is a validation of services to patients seeking comfort in an area that, in many cases, is unfamiliar territory. Simple recognition of safety and quality can be all these patients need to know they are headed in the right direction.
About the Author
Dr. Julio A. Castaños Guzman, Dean of Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE) and President of Hospital General de la Plaza de la Salud in the Dominican Republic.