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Editorial ~ Medical Tourism on the Move


Numerous countries are taking the opportunity to enhance their marketing programs, working as a team by setting up healthcare clusters and medical cities.

What’s this we hear about lower patient inquiries and cut backs in marketing spending? Have we no faith in the balance of economics? What happens when employees lose jobs? The first problematic expense for a laidoff employee is healthcare. In many countries where many employees enjoyed employer paid healthcare programs, now one is faced with paying the actual cost of the program their employer provided them with.

This can range from $100 to $1000 per month.  How many unemployed workers can foot a bill this high? Likely not many and, accordingly, the numbers of uninsured and  underinsured persons go up.

What about the credit crunch? Employers typically use credit each month to support their overhead costs, paying cash only for those types of expenses requiring cash payment, such as healthcare premiums. With credit companies and banks reducing their extension of credit lines, employers have to spend cash for previously credited items on their balance sheets. Now employers cut back on or eliminate their health care plans altogether. The numbers of uninsured and underinsured persons goes up.

What does this mean for medical tourism? More and more patients will be looking for alternative means for their more essential elective procedures such as orthopedics, bariatrics and cardiac care. If there was ever a time to spend your marketing dollars wisely, the time is now.

Many countries have taken this opportunity to expand their marketing programs, seizing the recession as a chance to work together and to get the biggest bang for their buck through setting up healthcare clusters and medical cities. Why not look to your government for financial assistance to promote your country and increase tourism revenues?

The Medical Tourism Association recently completed a Middle Eastern Tour to Israel, Jordon and Dubai. MTA announced the opening of its Tel Aviv Office to a group of 70 healthcare providers and government representatives at a conference sponsored by Israel Scientific Instruments, its partner in the region.

ISI organized the free MTA conference as an educational seminar about market opportunities in the US, healthcare cluster development, and strategic market development in furtherance of the MTA’s primary educational directive.

The opening of the Tel Aviv Office is designed to facilitate the development of medical tourism to the region though member management and to address the considerations of the region unique to that part of the world.

Following the event, the MTA delegation moved on to Arab Health in Dubai where it exhibited at the event which hosted thousands of exhibitors from all over the world representing the best of international healthcare. The 2009 MTA initiatives were developed through its Dubai Office which is located in Dubai Healthcare City.

Dr Prem Jagyasi will be spearheading the MTA Certification Program with the top quality healthcare facilities in Dubai for certification of facilitators and international patient departments. The Dubai office is responsible for coordinating all MTA member programs amongst the regional offices throughout the Middle East and the Gulf Coast Countries.

Jordon Hospital, under the patronage of His Excellency the Prime Minister Engineer Nader Al Dahabi held the first MTA and Jordon International Medical Tourism Congress of over 150 healthcare providers and government officials January 30 to February 2, 2009.

Amongst the topics held were: The Business Case for Medical Tourism, What Works and What Does Not, Branding, Marketing and the Role of Medical Tourism Facilitators. The conference was well received with a very positive conclusion of the high potential for Jordon in the medical tourism industry.

In this issue, we are taking a look at some of these marketing opportunities, starting with our feature on the Ethnic Employee. Evaluating the most costeffective platform must begin with an understanding of your largest market segment. We take a look at the Future of Medical Tourism and the rise of Medical Tourism in Europe with a special piece on HCA International Hospitals in the UK, dispelling some of the myth about UK  healthcare.

The launching of the Medical Tourism Magazine website has been a great success. The goal of the online version of Medical Tourism Magazine is to obtain readership from hundreds of thousands to eventually millions.

With up to date articles, expert videos and informational forums, you may increase your exposure as an advertiser. If you are interested in submitting an article or advertising to the Medical Tourism Magazine, kindly send your submission to


Renee-Marie Stephano is a Founder and COO of the Medical Tourism Association, also known as MTA, the first international non-profit trade association for the medical tourism industry.  Ms. Stephano also serves as general counsel for the MTA and is Editor of the Medical Tourism Magazine, a monthly journal that addresses all of the issues surrounding medical tourism including legal issues, accreditation, economic issues and a geographical focus on countries growing their business in treating foreign patients.

Ms. Stephano received her undergraduate degrees in international relations in Virginia and received her Juris Doctorate degree in Law in Pennsylvania.  She has a background in international marketing and health law and then went on to open her own law firm, spending six years serving as general counsel for a US national healthcare administrator which was the first US healthcare administrator to implement medical tourism into both self-funded and fully insured health plans in the United States.

Ms. Stephano works full time for the Medical Tourism Association and is considered an expert in medical tourism on legal issues.  In her role at the Medical Tourism Association, Ms. Stephano helps countries and hospitals create strategic marketing plans and helps identify target markets.  

She has helped many countries and hospitals achieve their goals of attracting foreign patients and international insurance companies.  Ms. Stephano works with global health care providers to maintain transparency with respect to quality of care as they increase their flow of patients and she also works with medical travel facilitators to establish best practices to ultimately ensure patient safety.

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Disclaimer: The content provided in Medical Tourism Magazine ( is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. We do not endorse or recommend any specific healthcare providers, facilities, treatments, or procedures mentioned in our articles. The views and opinions expressed by authors, contributors, or advertisers within the magazine are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of our company. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, We make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, regarding the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability of the information contained in Medical Tourism Magazine ( or the linked websites. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk. We strongly advise readers to conduct their own research and consult with healthcare professionals before making any decisions related to medical tourism, healthcare providers, or medical procedures.
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