The Medical Tourism Association's Annual Membership Meeting and Leadership Award Ceremony


With over 180 attendees in the audience, this year’s membership meeting was wall to wall with standing room only. Each year the World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress (WMT & GHC) holds a membership meeting on the first day of the event to discuss the changes that have gone on with the Medical Tourism Association® (MTA) over the past year and to inform attendees of new projects and initiatives that the MTA has launched. This year’s meeting was even more exciting as it also served as the World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress  Award Ceremony.

“This membership meeting was the perfect chance to inform members and conference attendees of new MTA programs and techniques to utilize MTA member benefits to raise their standard of care, streamline patient processes and promote their organizations to patients worldwide,” said Renée-Marie Stephano, President of the Medical Tourism Association®.

“Although we inform readers of our programs through newsletters and Medical Tourism Magazine (www.MedicalTourismMagazine.com), this face to face meeting allows us to go to more detail about programs, answer questions and receive input from industry participants from over 90 countries.  We have the opportunity to take the time to really educate attendees about the importance of the programs we launch and how it will benefit their organization.”

Jonathan Edelheit, CEO of the MTA began the meeting by welcoming everyone to the 5th edition of the Congress and by thanking participants for their continued support of the MTA and the Congress over the past 5 years. Following his welcome speech, Edelheit introduced Cristina Cardona, congress manager for the MTA, for her presentation on some of the more recent programs launched.

The Destination Branding Program, launched in 2012 includes several components for clients to choose from in marketing their destination and to complement existing branding strategies. The program was designed with the thought in mind to follow a certain process recommended by the MTA in order to have the most success.

But of course some destinations have already gotten started with their own program, so they have the option to pick and choose which programs would best enhance their goals. The featured initiatives of the Destination Branding Program include the following components:

  • The Medical Tourism Destination Guide is a powerful tool to show insurance companies, employers and patients that your area is amongst the top destinations for medical tourism. The guide highlights all the healthcare and tourism options available in the area.  It is the best long term strategy to increase patient flow to your hospitals. The guide will be available online at no cost for patients, and also on website such as Amazon.com, iTunes, Kindle and Nook.
  • The Medical Tourism Online Portal is a dedicated website that presents the health and tourism offerings of your destination. The portal will be hosted on MedicalTourism.com (ranked #1 in searches for medical tourism).
  • Healthcare Feasibility Studies and Focus Groups are designed for those who want to develop, build or launch a government or hospital medical tourism initiative; this study will assist them in understanding the strengths and weakness, determine necessary resources and understand the long term goal and how it will work from start to finish.
  • Familiarization Trips will show international insurance companies, employers and facilitators firsthand the high quality in healthcare and customer service that your hospitals and clinics have to offer, it will provide attendees the opportunity to meet the doctors and discuss sending patients to your medical facilities and finally it will showcase your destinations’ history, culture, natural resources and tourism opportunities.

Following the presentation on the Destination Branding Program, Ms. Stephano gave a brief speech about the development of healthcare clusters.

Forming a healthcare cluster or medical cluster is an important option to consider in establishing a medical tourism product and may enhance the location’s chances of success as a destination for medical tourists and increasing patient flow.

All the medical tourism stakeholders, such as hospitals, doctors, Ministry of Health, Tourism and Economic Development, tourism operators, hotels and more must work together to promote this image of high quality healthcare to establish a “brand” name for the location throughout the world.

Stephano discussed the role of each minister’s involvement in this process to highlight the significance of their involvement to the best results.

“The most sustainable model we have seen is when all government sectors are on board:  the Minister of Health has a goal of high quality healthcare for the most people, the Minister of Economy would be involved for the development of this cluster and will be able to foresee the financial results of this, and the Minister of Tourism has a desire to deliver the brand of the destination to the health and wellness seeking community,” said Stephano. “The the combined level of governmental support, would be the most desirable model for success.”

Congress Awards Ceremony

To recognize individuals who demonstrated achievements in the industry which played a large roll in developing the educational content shared during the Congress, World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress held its annual awards ceremony following the conclusion of the presentations. Each award winner was selected by the Congress Advisory Committee for approval.  Ms. Stephano proudly announced the award recipients; the categories and winners are as follows:

The Minerva Award was for excellence in academic research; named after the goddess of wisdom, learning, the arts, sciences and medicine. This year’s recipient was Professor David Reisman. Professor Reisman is a full professor of economics at the Nanyang Technology University and the author of Health Tourism: Social Welfare through International Trade.

The Laso Award was for excellence in patient experience and was named after the Greek Goddess Laso, the goddess of recuperation from illness.  There were two recipients of this award, Mr. Fred Lee, the author of If Disney Ran Your Hospital; 9 ½ Things You Would Do Differently and the second winner was Dr. Scott Diering, a practicing emergency medicine physician and the author of Love Your Patients! Improving Patient Satisfaction with Essential Behaviors that Enrich the Lives of Patients and Professionals.

The Justitia Award was for commitment to legal issues in international healthcare, named after a Roman Goddess. The award recipient was Mr. Scott Edelstein, practicing attorney for Squire Sanders who focuses his practice on advising healthcare providers and payors on legal and regulatory issues related to medical tourism.

The Hermes Award was for excellence in medical tourism social networking, named after Hermes, the messenger of the Gods in Roman times. Mr. Luis Santamaria, CEO and founder of Panasalud, S.A., is a health communicator that provides consulting, creativity and logistics for more than 300 doctors, clinics and hospitals in Panama.

The Atlas Award was given to three recipients that have helped to support the MTA by using their valuable and unique skills. The first was Mr. Bill Cook, author, speaker, consultant, internationally recognized expert on medical tourism and has built one of Latin America’s most successful international patient programs.  The second was Dr. Prem, he has undertaken various initiatives to foster the growth of global healthcare and medical tourism worldwide, and he is a chartered consultant, strategic investor, global trainer and renowned author. The third recipient of this award was Mr. Dan Cormany, professor at Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University. Mr. Cormany has introduced numerous hospitality students to the medical tourism business; he also organized a group of students to assist with the Congress this year.

International Healthcare Consumers Coalition, Inc.

Following the award ceremony, B. Ronnell Nolan, HIA from the International Healthcare Consumers Coalition, Inc. (IHCC) shared the IHCC’s initiative.  The MTA has partnered with the, IHCC a non-profit lobbying group launched to support the reimbursement of Medicare overseas.

Another part of the initiative is to ensure that medical tourism’s vital interests are protected and promoted. As the market grows and becomes an even more successful industry, it will be important to ensure that the current and future regulatory landscape supports growth.  The IHCC is utilizing the services of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, to persuade legislators to vote for legislation that favors this end goal.  For More information Contact info@medicaltourismassociation.com.

Next year’s Annual MTA Membership Meeting will be held on November 3, 2012 at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas.

Learn about how you can become a Certified Medical Tourism Professional→