As the pandemic begins to ease across the world, the doors are opening once again to medical tourism hubs and companies to expand the business of medical travel. More international patients are seeking healthcare abroad as a result of the pent-up demand for care induced by the pandemic.
In this interview with the Medical Tourism Magazine recently, Juan Luis Giraldo, MD, Medical Director of Instituto de Fertilidad Humana (Inser) Group, one of the leading fertility treatment providers in Latin America, speaks about how the company is expanding its frontiers and driving growth in fertility travel.
MTM: Tell us a little about yourself
My name is Juan Luis Giraldo, MD. I´m a physician, OBGYN, and specialist in reproductive medicine. I am also the International Medical Director of Inser Group, the leading infertility group in Colombia, with a network of IVF centers in Medellin, Bogota, Pereira, Cartagena, and Barranquilla. I’ve been working in the field for more than 24 years now.
MTM: Tell us about your journey into the medical travel industry
Colombia is strategically located, geographically speaking. Besides, our country has a tradition for high-quality medical education, services, and standards, which in addition to the affordability of care makes it a choice spot for international patients. Consequently, as soon as we opened our doors, we saw a massive influx of international patients seeking affordable and high-quality infertility treatments. We identified this interesting target and leveraged marketing strategies to reach these international patients.
MTM: How long has INSER had a medical travel program, and what are the top treatments you specialize in for medical travelers?
Inser was inaugurated 27 years ago; while international patients have always been an important part of our practice, the Medical Travel Program was officially created in 2016. International patients come seeking mainly In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT), Egg donation, and Surrogacy treatments.
MTM: What support services do you offer medical travelers?
Our international patients have a complete website specially designed for them addressing all the information required for an awesome tourist and medical experience. We ensure we maintain an open channel of seamless communication, providing information along the continuum of care, from pre-travel preparations, flight plans, in-city transportation, accommodation, and consultation scheduling, among other details. Further, we provide personalized treatment and communication with their leading physician. We assign a medical tourism logistics agency to each patient to take care of trip logistics, including transportation, accommodation, flights, and leisure tours.
MTM: What global markets do you receive patients from and are there specific markets you want to expand into?
We are proud to say that we have provided successful fertility treatments for patients in more than 25 countries around the world; however, our main markets are the USA, Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire, Republica Dominicana, Trinidad y Tobago, Costa Rica, and Canada.
MTM: What sets your organization apart and makes it so unique?
Inser leverages a full range of good-quality fertility services with high-end technology, as well as personalized patient-centered and affordable medical care. This has been the secret to the high treatment and pregnancy rates we record.
MTM: How do you see medical travel evolving over the next two years?
Medical tourism is on the rise. Limited access to medical services in most developed countries, due to rising health costs will continue to drive the market and expand the borders of medical travel.
MTM: Are you seeing pent-up demand from medical travelers for fertility treatments as a result of the pandemic? Please explain.
We experienced an increased demand for fertility treatments in 2021, especially from our international network of patients. This is not unconnected to the travel restrictions and border closure that occurred in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. Interestingly, this huge influx continues on a steady rise in 2022.
What types of global partners are you looking for?
After many years of experience, we have learned that building a network of clients loyal to our group is the best way to increase our flow of international patients. So, we work on this network mainly through direct contact, knowledge sharing, and continued education for gynecologists on reproductive medicine and fertility treatments.
Questions about Global Healthcare Accreditation
MTM: Your GHA Accreditation survey was held in the midst of the pandemic. Why was it important for you to continue investing in your Medical Travel Program during such challenging times?
We had it clear from the onset. Many small competitors would be out of the market due to pandemic. Developing countries like Colombia would experience tougher economic implications and diminished demand for medical services not covered by public health programs like infertility treatments. We had to prepare for a diminished local market and the best way to do it was to focus our efforts on international patients. Accreditations are a mainstay for developing a solid international medical program, so we had to key into GHA’s validation and seal.
MTM: Your organization has several accreditations. Why did INSER choose to get accredited by Global Healthcare Accreditation?
We found GHA to be a reliable organization with experienced staff and high standards. We believed we could learn and improve our international patient program considerably by having GHA as a mentor and accreditor.
MTM: What value does GHA provide to your organization? What value or benefits does it provide to your medical travel patients?
GHA helped us to put our house in order, strengthen our weaknesses, proffer efficient solutions and develop a constant improvement spirit that has turned out instrumental to turn our international patient program into a vivid, efficient, quality-oriented, and attractive medical tourism hub.
MTM: Do you believe accreditation is important for building patient trust in your organization?
Accreditations by solid and high-standard accreditors definitively build trust for patients that look for medical services abroad, particularly in countries that are completely unknown to them. The third-party validation drives continuous quality improvements and ensures the medical travel program has services, procedures, and processes that are in line with global best practices.