Formosa Medical Travel and MTT Medical have officially launched Taiwan’s Medical Tourism Guide, a comprehensive framework for medical tourists seeking treatment in Taiwan. With a focus on cosmetic treatments, weight-loss solutions, and health screenings, the full-featured print magazine will be available through our network of travel agents in Mainland China as well as the United States. The Simplified Chinese version of the medical tourism magazine is currently available through 台灣醫療, Formosa Medical Travel’s Chinese web portal.
Formosa Medical Travel and MTT Medical’s network of medical providers in Taiwan consists of over 40 world-class cosmetic clinics, including institutions in nine Taiwanese cities. These clinics offer a wide range of cosmetic treatments, including skin treatments, body shaping solutions, health checks, and more. Information on RF treatments, laser treatments, physical treatments, beautifying injections, chemical treatments and more can be found at the Medical Tourism Guide website.
Taiwan’s healthcare system has long been considered one of the finest in the world, and Formosa Medical Travel and MTT Medical’s Medical Tourism Guide is designed to bring this world-class service to medical tourists from around the globe. Every day, more and more patients are taking advantage of the cost savings and high-quality care available in Taiwan. Last year, it is estimated that over 100,000 overseas patients visited Taiwan as medical travelers, and as the world begins to take notice of the high standards and unparalleled medical technology available in Taiwan, that number is sure to continue to climb.
Mainland Chinese patients, who share a language and history with Taiwan, can utilize the Simplified Chinese version of the guide, 观光医疗, at Taiwanyiliao.com. With details on the hidden travel spots in Taiwan and full-featured descriptions of all of the specialized treatments the island has to offer, this guide is an indispensable resource to the Chinese medical tourist.
Much has been reported about the rapidly expanding Asian economy. Perhaps one of the fastest growing aspect of many Asian economies is medical tourism, with India, South Korea and Thailand leading the way.
“Medical tourism is the travel of individuals from a home country like the U.S., Britain, even Singapore, Thailand in the region to a destination for the primary purpose of seeking medical care,” said Glenn Cohen, the Co-Director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics at the Harvard University law school.
He said medical tourism comes in what he terms “three flavors”.
“The first flavor ,especially in the U.S., is uninsured or underinsured individuals who are doing price shopping. By one estimate, getting angioplasty out of pocket in the United States would cost about $98,000. If you’re getting it in Thailand or Singapore you’re looking at $13,000. So huge cost saving is one aspect of looking for medical travel abroad. A second group of people are people who have insurance coverage that gives them an incentive to go abroad. We have a little bit of that in the U.S. And then a third category are individuals who are seeking to avoid domestic prohibition or unavailability of a service. For example, a lot of Irish engage in what could be called “abortion tourism, “people travel to Switzerland for assisted suicide and people travel elsewhere for stem cell therapy and the like, and of course to India for surrogacy tourism and the like,” he said.
Cohen says has translated into big businesses around the world..
“Cuba in 2004 made about $20 million on medical tours, Jordan, about $500 million. Its estimated that by 2012, India will be looking at about $2.2 billion in revenue. This is a very fast growing industry and a number of countries are making a very concerted effort to corner at least the regional market. There is some division as to the kind of services they offer. But it’s a very lucrative industry and there are also all kinds of other players who we call intermediaries or facilitators who try to arrange travel for you and kind of act as concierges in some way in the industry,” he said.
Asia is a particularly fast growing market for medical tourism. A recent report from the Indian market research company RNCOS predicts a growth rate of over 17 and a half percent in Asia by next year.
Among the leaders in Asian medical tourism are India, South Korea and Thailand. China wants to be part of that group.
According to Dr. David Vequist who heads the Center for Medical Tourism Research in San Antonio, Texas, they are doing just that.
“China is interested in developing a medical tourism specialty and in fact there are efforts going on in places like Shanghai in order to develop a medical hub. It would be similar to what the Koreans have done or the Japanese have done or Thailand, or some of these other countries that have been active in medical tourism, India, for example,” he said.
According to Vequist, China, due to its huge population, may have an edge over other countries.
“China, as a country has quite a few people who travel within the country for health care and increasingly have people who travel outside the country for health care. The majority of the health care facilities inside the country don’t necessarily have a great global reputation for health care. Gallup recently released a study that shows that 15 percent of Chinese citizens are travelling within the country to find better health care. And what we’re finding is as Chinese tourism picks up around the world, we’re seeing more and more Chinese nationals going to other countries and receiving surgeries and pharmaceuticals and other types of health care outside of China,” he said.
Vequist says a growing medical tourism reputation inside China might lead to those people seeking treatment in their own country.
While the expanding world of medical tourism is undoubtedly good for economies, there are some major concerns that need to be addressed. We will address that in the next report.
Japan’s Economy, Trade, and Industry Ministry has announced plans to launch a government-run company in 2011 which will be aimed at increasing inbound medical tourism.The Ministry has targeted medical tourism as an area for growth in coming years, and plans to grow the mediacl industry by attracting foreign patients.
The new company, which will be funded by both the private and public sector, will become operational in 202. It is likeley that patients in China, Russia, the Middle East, and other nations will be the targets of this initiative, with a focus on partnering with domestic medical services in these countries to form a referral system.
Japan’s Yomiuri Shinbonreports that the Ministry has already allocated approximately 100 million yen ((about $1.1m USD). These funds are intended to cover the company’s startup costs, while other investment is expected to come from both government-affiliated entities and private companies.
Japan has, in the recent months and years, taken steps to increase its standing in the medical tourism industry. With hundreds of thousands of patients traveling yearly to other countries in the region such as Thailand, Taiwan, and Singapore, Japan hopes to tap into the ever-growing medical tourism market. This latest initiative is the product of an expert panel that was set up by the Economy, Trade, and Industry Ministry last fall.
Japan’s medical industry has many advantages that may attract foreign patients. While costs may be higher than in nations such as Thailand and Taiwan, Japan’s modern medical infrastructure and technology is among the best in the world. As a highly-developed country, Japan stands alongside only Taiwan and Singapore as a first-world medical tourism destination in Asia.
Kinmen, May 29 (CNA) The Kinmen County government said Saturday that it welcomes a partly Chinese-funded joint venture that will build a resort and shopping center on the island of Kinmen.
The Investment Commission under the Ministry of Economic Affairs approved the project on Thursday, in which a Chinese company from Fujian Province plans to invest about NT$50 million (US$1.56 million) to set up a company with a Taiwanese partner on the offshore island.
The joint venture — which will be 49 percent owned by the Fujian-based company and 51 percent by the Taiwanese side — will be the first time a Chinese company has invested in Taiwan’s tourism industry.
Hsiao Yung-ping, an official at the Kinmen Industrial Development and Investment Promotion Commission, said that the company is eying the increased number of tourists traveling via the direct transport links between the Chinese city of Xiamen and the Taiwanese islands of Kinmen and Matsu — the so-called “mini-three-links.” Kinmen County’s efforts to make itself an island of medical tourism and leisure travel also provide a lot of business opportunities, he added.
Hsiao said that Kinmen County offers various investment incentives and will provide assistance to companies in need. (By Ni Kuo-yen and Fanny Liu)
In one of the key outcomes of the European Medical Travel Conference 2010 in Monastier, Italy, the European medical travel industry has announced the issuance of the “Declaration of Venice,” calling on industry and government actors to cooperate and work together to help grow the medical travel industry.
The Declaration calls on providers to recognize the “right of citizens to travel for the purpose to receive access to or better healthcare services,” the “need for global health systems to respond better to the needs of increasingly mobile citizens,” and the necessity of “integrat[ing] better health and tourism services” through greater investment.
The Declaration was intended, in part, to reaffirm the rights of European citizens to travel throughout Europe and the world to receive the best possible medical care at affordable prices. The document stresses cooperation between all levels of the sector, including public tourism agencies, government actors, and healthcare providers.
Contributors to the declaration hope that the document’s publication will help impress upon European politicians that the medical tourism industry is here to stay, and that it will encourage all players in the medical tourism industry to strive for greater value, safety, access, and quality in medical tourism.
A Thai hospital was evacuated Friday, reports Denis D. Gray of the AP, further demonstrating the effects of the country’s discord on the medical tourism industry. The protesters suspected that security forces were taking refuge in the hospital.
Chulalongkorn Hospital in downtown Bangkok suspended all but emergency services, as the Redshirt protesters scoured the premises looking for pro-government operatives. The protesters withdrew after not finding any police or soldiers in the compound.
This comes as yet another blow to Thailand’s booming medical tourism industry, as until now the protests had remained safely away from the medical industry. It is expected that Thailand’s medical tourism industry, and indeed tourism in general, will suffer greatly from the escalating tensions in the capital.
For now, the U.S. Department of state has advised against all “non-essential” travel to Thailand, warning citizens to stay away from the turmoil. For thousands of medical travelers from the United States and around the world are being forced to re-evaluate their plans, delay their medical procedures, or seek alternate destinations.
It remains to be seen what long-term effects the protests will have on Thailand’s medical tourism industry. With no end in sight, it seems likely that medical travelers seeking essential treatments will have to select an alternate destination for medical care.
Other popular medical tourism destinations in the world include Costa Rica, India, Singapore, and Taiwan.
Introduced by Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), Changhua Christian Hospital (CCH) was one of nine hospitals in Taiwan signing contract with Central Insurance Group on Dec. 27th, 2009. Qualified by JCI (Joint Commission International), CCH provides the highest standards on medical quality patient safety, and becomes the first hospital of central Taiwan contracting with Central Insurance Group. From now on, CCH will serve patients of US major medical insurance companies.
Dr. Sam Kam, Chairman of Central Insurance Group, has been operating the group for over ten years in Southern California, USA, and has maintained a good relationship with major US insurance companies. Central Health Plan of California and Central Health MSO are the affiliations of the Group including total number of 200 employees, annual turnover of 100 million USD, and becoming the 3rd biggest medical management organization in southern California.
In order to fight for the contracts to US insurance companies, Dr. Kam will establish Taiwan HealthCare to forge an alliance with CCH and other hospitals in Taiwan. Therefore, patients from contracted US insurance companies may receive a high quality medical care with affordable expense.
Dr. Shou-Jen Kuo, superintendent of CCH, indicated that CCH provided with live transplantation, cardiac catheterization, artificial reproduction, joint replacement, and integrated cancer treatments. In addition, there are more competitive medical cares such as health evaluation combines with tour courses, cosmetic medicine and tooth implantation. CCH, located in the middle Taiwan, is the one with the most beds among those JCI accredited hospitals in Asia. “We have implemented the patient-centered spirit—to provide care from patient’s point of view—in medical care with our well communicated medical teams. The spirit spurs us continuously to pursue medical quality and improvement. This is CCH’s spirit,” said Dr. Kuo. CCH has built up high standard International Ward under such spirit with affordable price to provide medical care. “We are confident that CCH will become the first choice for international medical service in central Taiwan,” said Dr. Kuo.
Murli Melwani, guest blogging for the Dallas Morning News, praises Taiwan’s abilities in medical tourism:
Have you wondered why even affluent Americans have become medical tourists? According to the Deloitte Center for Health Care Solutions, 750,000 Americans travelled abroad for medical care in 2007. The Center projects that the figure will cross 1.6 million by 2012. …
An important reason why medical dollars go overseas is the status and the approach of doctors in the U.S. I will explain this in terms of my experience with doctors in Taiwan, where I lived for 25 years.
Most of the doctors in Taiwan are trained in the U.S. When they return to home, they do not open their own clinics. They work for Medical University hospitals, hospitals founded by American missionaries, those set up by philanthropic Taiwanese or in government hospitals. Their status: they are employees and they earn a salary.
What is important is the approach of these doctors, which is clinical rather than analytical. The clinical approach is deductive in nature and the doctor draws on his experience and knowledge of symptoms in arriving at his diagnosis. The analytical approach uses the results of tests to draw conclusions.
By contrast, says Melwani, doctors in the United States often order unnecessary treatments and tests, in order to recover their investment in hospital equipment and technology. Melwani recommends that American doctors return to a style more similar to that of Taiwan, where treatment is dictated by need instead of money.
The British newspaper The Independent reports that Britain’s National Health Service could save millions if the Department of Health considered utilizing medical tourism. “Thousands of patients waiting for operations such as hip replacements and hernia repairs could be treated more cheaply and quickly if the Government set up formal agreements” with medical tourism destinations, the report says.
Currently, the publicly-funded health service provides healthcare to all residents free 0f charge, but there has been criticism surrounding the wait times for many elective procedures. The Independent article argues that these wait times could be reduced through medical tourism, while saving a significant amount of money.
“At least £120m could be saved,” says the article, “if NHS patients currently waiting for just five different operations went to India, with a companion, for treatment in an accredited hospital, according to health economists’ calculations.” India is one of many medical tourism destinations, many of which provide a quality of healthcare equal to or better than that in Britain, say experts.
Hundreds of thousands of people are already taking advantage of medical tourism on their own. Britons make up a large portion of medical tourists, as do uninsured Americans who cannot afford the high cost of many medical treatments in the United States. “The estimated number of medical tourists worldwide each year ranges from four million to 617 million,” says the Independent.
In the coming years, many expect that governments around the world will start to consider medical tourism as a solution to rising medical costs and wait lists. Developing countries such as India, Thailand, and Mexico, as well as highly-developed countries such as Singapore and Taiwan can provide many medical procedures for a fraction of the cost in Britain and the United States. As populations continue to age in western countries, many expect medical tourism to experience tremendous growth.
Self-management programs and strength training regimens can help patients suffering from the early stages of osteoarthritis, says a new report titled Multidimensional Intervention for Early Osteoarthritis of the Knee.
The study, conducted at the University of Arizona Arthritis center over the course of 24 months, had 273 participants. The trial compared the effects of strength training regimens, self-management programs, and a combination of the two.
All participants were between the ages of 35 and 65, diagnosed with osteoarthritis, and had been sufferers of knee pain for less than five years. The first group of participants underwent a strength training regimen over the course of nine months, focusing on improving muscle strength, range of motion, flexibility, and balance. The second group concentrated on developing long-term exercise habits, with professional education and treatment advice. The third group participated in both strength training and self-management.
201 of the 273 participants completed the full two-year trial. There was little difference in the outcomes of the three groups, but all three showed marked improvement in many categories. Self-reported pain was decreased across the board, and physical function test scores improved for all three groups. The lack of a difference between the three groups suggests “similar benefits for all three over a two-year period,” said Patrick McKnight, lead author of the study.
These results suggest that sufferers of osteoarthritis should make an effort in the early stages of the disease to undergo strength training or some method of self-management program. By taking a proactive approach to the affliction, sufferers of osteoarthritis may be able to delay the need for total joint replacement surgery.
Many Americans without health insurance are faced with the prospect of joint replacement surgery, but do not have the means to pay the high rates in the United States. Both knee replacement surgery and hip replacement surgery can cost upwards of $70,000 in the United States — a significant cost by any measure.
As osteoarthritis continues to afflict a growing number of Americans, more and more patients are seeking alternatives to the extraordinary costs in the United States. It is estimated that osteoarthritis afflicts upwards of 20 million Americans, most of whom are over the age of 45. In addition to this, there are over 40 million Americans who do not have health insurance. Since the only long-term treatment to osteoarthritis is total joint replacement, many Americans are left with few options for surgery.
Medical tourism provides a solution to the millions of Americans afflicted by osteoarthritis who have no insurance. By traveling overseas for medical care, patients can experience a savings upwards of 75%. For example, knee replacement surgery in Taiwan can be obtained for less than $10,000. Even after the price of flights and accommodations, many medical travelers find themselves saving tens of thousands of dollars by traveling overseas for their medical procedures.
Uninsured and underinsured Americans have been a topic of much discussion in the healthcare debate. For the thousands of Americans who cannot afford the expensive medical care in the United States, medical tourism offers a low-cost alternative. The standard of care in many medical tourism destinations is as high or higher than that in the United States, and in many cases the doctors are U.S.-trained and educated.
Patients who are considering delaying or forgoing knee replacement or hip replacement surgery, medical tourism is an option that should be considered. Instead of living with pain and reduced mobility, thousands of Americans are traveling overseas to receive much-needed joint replacement surgery at affordable prices.
As osteoarthritis continues to afflict more and more Americans, sufferers turn to different treatments to ease the pain and regain mobility. Although knee replacement surgery is considered the most effective and long-lasting treatment to knee pain, an advanced procedure is being pursued by some younger patients: knee cartilage transplantation.
Osteoarthritis causes the deterioration of the cartilage in the knee. The cartilage serves as a load bearing zone and allows for flexion of the joint. Unfortunately, cartilage has poor regenerative qualities and, once afflicted by osteoarthritis, can degenerate quickly. Once osteoarthritis has progressed to an advanced stage, simple tasks such as walking can prove very painful or even impossible.
In performing a cartilage transplant, doctors first must perform a biopsy. In this minor surgery, surgeons take a sample of knee cartilage from the non-essential area — that is, the zone that does not bear weight. The biopsy is then taken to a lab, where it is cultured and grown into millions of cartilage cells.
The cultured cells are then used to replace the damaged knee cartilage, in a more-invasive surgical procedure. Once the undeveloped cartilage cells have been re-inserted, a period of about three months is necessary for them to continue the healing process and replace the damaged area of the knee.
Younger patients are more suited for cartilage transplants than older ones. Some doctors recommend that the operation only be pursued by patients in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s, while older patients should consider either partial or total knee replacement surgery.
A study published in the December 2009 issue of PM&R: The journal of injury, function, and rehabilitation concluded that the use of modern running shoes could cause damage to knee, hip, and ankle joints. The study, conducted on 68 healthy adult runners, showed surprising results.
For the study, subjects were observed using a treadmill with a motion analysis system. None of the participants had any history of musculoskeletal injury, and each was in the habit of running 15 miles per week. Each participant was required to run both barefoot and wearing typical running shoes. The results showed that running with shoes may increase the stress on knee joints by up to 38%. “There is an increase in joint torque that may be detrimental,” said D. Casey Kerrigan, MD, the author of the study.
This may serve as a call for shoemakers to redesign their products, making them more safe for runners. The study pointed to the attributes of the shoes as the possible cause of the problem, including elevated heels and raised arches. The added material in running shoes may counteract the body’s natural response to running, in the end doing more harm than good.
The increased stress on knee joints may lead to osteoarthritis if continued over a long period of time, it is theorized. However, Bruce Williams, a spokesman for the American Podiatric Medical Association, doubts this claim. “It’s much ado about nothing,” said Williams, concluding “there was an increase in joint forces, but that’s it.” The study was not designed to show a link between running shoes and osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis, the most common cause of knee and hip pain, afflicts an estimated 40 million Americans. With the population of the United States aging every day, many predict that osteoarthritis will afflict as many as one out of every five Americans by the end of the decade.
Osteoarthritis causes the degeneration of the cartilage in both the knee and hip joints, causing those afflicted to experience severe pain and decreased mobility. While the condition is not life-threatening, it does have severe implications for the quality of life of those who suffer from osteoarthritis. If the condition is allowed to progress to an advanced stage, patients can find themselves very limited in their daily activities.
The only long-term solution to osteoarthritis of the knee or hip is total joint replacement surgery. Artificial joints can replace the deteriorated cartilage, and allow patients to return to their normal lives, usually with greatly increased mobility and reduced pain. Unfortunately, total joint replacement surgery is a costly procedure, especially in the United States. Patients without health insurance can expect to pay upward of $45,000 for a single knee or hip replacement surgery in the United States.
For Americans who cannot afford the cost of knee replacement or hip replacement surgery, there are options. Medical tourism, the practice of leaving one’s country for medical care, can offer patients significant savings. Many countries offer joint replacement surgery for a fraction of the cost of the same procedure in the United States. In Taiwan, both knee replacement surgery and hip replacement surgery can be obtained for under $12,000, at world-class hospitals accredited by the Joint Commission International.
A new study by the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery has found that the risk of mortality in knee replacement surgery is even lower than previously thought.
The study, which encompassed 81,856 patients in Norway, furthers the notion that knee replacement surgery is one of the most successful surgery procedures carried out today. The danger of death estimated by the study was pegged at less than 0.1%. The vast majority of patients who undergo total knee replacement surgery experience an improved lifestyle and mobility, with significantly reduced pain.
“Previous studies suggesting that increased mortality exists for as long as 60 or 90 days post hip or knee replacement surgery may be wrong,” said Stein Atle Lie, PhD, MSc, lead author of the study. “We believe the risk is tied to a much shorter duration.” The rare cases in which complications occur, the study indicates, are usually during or shortly after surgery.
The data gathered from this study “should be reassuring for patients considering these surgeries,” said Lars B. Engesaeter, MD, PhD, co-author of the study. Knee replacement surgery has been common practice for decades, and the surgical methods used have advanced to such a state that it is one of the safest surgical procedures performed in modern medicine.
NEW DELHI: The United States administration is likely to introduce a bill in the Senate and the Congress to remove the federal cap on the intake of medical students, according to the Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), a body of physicians of Indian-origin in India. This would benefit international students, including those from India.
According to Vinod K. Shah of the AAPI, President Barack Obama has assured the association that his government would introduce the bill to add an additional 15,000 residency slots.
This has been a long-standing demand of the AAPI to increase residency slots for medical graduates to facilitate more international students join post-graduate courses, Dr. Shah told journalists at the Global Healthcare Summit here on Saturday.
The maximum intake of students by various U.S. universities at present is 18,000 seats, of which around 16,000 are reserved for the U.S. citizens, leaving only 2,000 for international students.
“If the bill is passed, it will benefit the students from India the most as they constitute about 30 to 40 per cent of the total international students selected to study in the U.S.,” Dr. Shah said.
The move is also expected to benefit India as it recently started recognising post-graduate medical courses obtained by Indian-origin students of five countries: the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
“An official notification has been recently passed and included in the gazette to recognise PG medical courses certificates obtained by NRI students from these countries,” Ketan Desai, President of the Medical Council of India, said.
The move is to avail the services of students who receive expert training in these countries. They can start practising in India without going through any more tests, Mr. Desai added.
This year, the AAPI has roped in the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) and top-notch Indian medical professional associations to make the summit a truly global one.
The summit will share best practices and experience from leading experts around the world to develop actionable plans for launching demonstration projects.
The focus will be on prevention, treatment and management of “priority disease states” in India with measurable metrics to ensure that the plans are viable.
It also aims at bringing together some of the world’s most renowned experts to focus on priority disease states such as allergy, immunology, cardiovascular, diabetes, infectious disease (HIV/AIDS), emergency medicine, mental health, and maternal and child health.
The summit will have a wider global perspective with the addition of medical tourism and health information technology.
The government held a ceremony Tuesday to launch “Medical Korea,” a nation-branding promotional effort to attract patients from overseas to the nation’s top medical facilities.
The Medical Korea campaign aims to draw 400,000 foreign medical tourists per year by 2015, with hospitals expected to make some 370 billion if the campaign is successful.
Economic benefits worth up to 600 billion won for tourism and other related industries could be expected, as well.
At the ceremony at the Grand Hilton Seoul, Health and Welfare Minister Jeon Jae-hee introduced the slogan to the audience, which was comprised of representatives from medical, media and government agencies, including 90 doctors and 260 foreigners.
Minister Jeon said it was time for the country to positively participate in the worldwide medical tourism market, which is estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars. “This year, more than 50,000 foreign visitors came to Korea to use our medical care facilities,” Jeon said. “Our Smart Care project, which is part of the Medical Korea campaign, is specifically aimed at helping foreigners enjoy the benefits of our high quality medical services at low costs.”
The campaign is being introduced at a time when local administrations and hospitals are trying to improve their bottom lines. Currently, Korea is only at 90 percent of the level of European countries when it comes to the quality of medical care, said the Korean Academy of Medical Science in a 2005 report.
Singapore’s successful launch of “Singapore Medicine” was benchmarked as a model to promote the affordable but competitive services Korean can offer to the world.
“At the moment, Korea is ahead of the pack in treating gastric cancer and providing cosmetic surgery and aesthetic care,” ministry official Baek Hyung-ki said.
“Medical Korea symbolizes the essence of what we are seeking and the Smart Care program shows our confidence in the adaptation of state-of-the-art skills,” he said.
Tom Lydon of ETFTrends.com recently wrote an article on investing in medical tourism with Exchange Traded Funds. While these ETF’s don’t exactly track the major international players (Apollo, Wockhardt, Bumrungrad and Parkway), the idea behind diversifying your portfolio with international healthcare is something that many investors are now considering.
While many Japanese companies have gone global over the years, making companies like Toyota, Sony and Canon household names in every corner of the world, the Japanese health care industry is focused largely on the domestic market and has long been shielded from pressure for change.
Most hospitals in Japan are not very foreigner-friendly. They have few doctors or staff who speak foreign languages. And some of their practices, including the notorious “three-minute consultation after a three-hour wait” leave foreign patients flummoxed. Medical procedures often seem based less on science than the doctor’s whim.
But change is afoot. As the majority of hospitals in Japan struggle to survive, interest in “medical tourists” from abroad is mounting. And that could help some hospitals become more international and accommodative toward foreign patients’ needs, experts say.
“If you go to hospitals in Thailand and Singapore, you would be amazed at how modernized and internationalized the hospitals there are,” said Dr. Shigekoto Kaihara, vice president of International University of Health and Welfare in Tokyo. “They have multilingual reception desks, and even sections where they would sort out the visitors’ visa issues.”
Medical tourism is rapidly growing worldwide, and in Asia, Singapore, Thailand and India have emerged as major destinations for patients from the U.S. and Britain, where their skyrocketing health care costs have driven more people to seek treatment options offshore.
According to Washington-based Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, an estimated 750,000 Americans traveled abroad for medical care in 2007. That number is estimated to increase to 6 million by 2010. Several U.S. insurers, seeking to cut health care costs, have entered into tieups with hospitals in India, Thailand and Mexico, the center said in a report.
Although medical tourism is still in its infancy in Japan and there are no official statistics on how many foreigners come here for treatment, there are signs the government is getting serious about attracting more in hopes of making hospitals more internationally competitive and making it easier for foreigners to visit and stay in Japan.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry released guidelines for hospitals in July on how to attract such travelers, noting Japan boasts “cost-effective” health care and advanced medical technology.
“By introducing Japan’s health culture and the underlying health care system abroad, Japan can make contributions to the world in areas other than manufacturing, and can also shore up related industries domestically,” the guidelines say.
METI will soon launch a pilot program under which two consortiums, made up of hospitals, tour operators, translators and other businesses, start accepting patients from abroad.
Under the program, 20 overseas travelers will be brought to Japan by early March for health checkups or medical treatment at hospitals, said Tadahiro Nakashio, manager of marketing and sales promotion at JTB Global Marketing & Travel, which has been selected as a consortium member. He said the company will bring in patients from Russia, China, Hong Kong,Taiwan and Singapore.
Nakashio said some of visitors will combine sightseeing with their hospital visits, staying at hot springs resorts or playing golf, during their weeklong stay.
The Japan Tourism Agency convened a panel of experts in July to study medical tourism. The agency, which aims to boost the number of overseas tourists to 20 million by 2020, will soon start interviewing hospital officials in Japan and their foreign patients, as well as researching the practices in other parts of Asia, said Satoshi Hirooka, an official at the agency.
“We think of medical tourism as one of the ways to achieve our 20 million target,” Hirooka said. “We decided to research this further, as Thailand and South Korea are very active on this front, with medical tourism making up 10 percent of their total inbound tourism volume.”
Although the numbers are small, Japan has a track record of accepting medical travelers.
Tokyo-based trading company PJL Inc., which exports car parts to Russia, started bringing Russians, especially those living on Sakhalin island, to Japanese hospitals four years ago.
According to Noriko Yamada, a director at PJL, 60 people have visited Japanese hospitals through PJL introductions since November 2005. They have come for treatments ranging from heart bypass surgery to removal of brain tumors to gynecological screenings. PJL receives fees from patients for translating documents and interpreting on site for them.
One morning in October, a 53-year-old Sakhalin business owner visited Saiseikai Yokohama-shi Tobu Hospital in Yokohama to seek treatment for shoulder pains and other health problems.
The man, who declined to give his name, said there may be MRI scanners on Sakhalin but none work properly.
“The doctors and staff are good here, better than the ones in Russia,” he said in Russian as Yamada translated. “But not everyone can come. You have to have a certain level (of income) to receive care in Japan.”
The hospital’s deputy director, Masami Kumagai, said the key to success in building up the medical tourism industry is finding enough skilled interpreters and translators who can communicate patients’ needs to hospitals before they arrive.
“In health care, the textbook approach to translation won’t work,” she said. “Translators must have a deep understanding of the patients’ social and cultural backgrounds. And even with advance preparation, patients sometimes cancel tests at the last minute because they have spent their money elsewhere, like sightseeing in Harajuku.”
Medical tourists are not covered by Japan’s universal health care system, which means hospitals are free to set whatever fees they like for such patients. As Japan’s health care is known for being relatively cheap, patients from abroad are generally satisfied with the care they get here, even when they pay up to 2.5 times more than Japanese patients under the national health insurance scheme, experts said.
At Saiseikai Yokohama hospital, Russian patients are charged about the same as those covered by national health insurance, Kumagai said.
Through dealing with foreign patients, hospital staff have grown more sensitive to patients’ needs, Kumagai said.
“We try to offer quality service to Russian patients who come all the way here, just the way we have tried to offer quality service to domestic patients,” she said.
“For example, we have found a local bakery that sells Russian bread, and serve it whenever a Russian patient stays overnight.”
John Wocher, executive vice president at Kameda Medical Center, a 965-bed hospital group in Kamogawa, Chiba Prefecture, said hospitals in Japan could market themselves more by obtaining international accreditation. Kameda in August became the first hospital in Japan to get approval from the Joint Commission International, a U.S.-based hospital accreditation body aimed at assuring the quality and safety of care.
Worldwide, more than 300 health care organizations in 39 countries have been accredited by JCI.
To be approved, hospitals must pass inspection on 1,030 criteria, including infection control and protection of patient and family rights.
Wocher, who has spearheaded the hospital group’s efforts to obtain accreditation, said it didn’t seek the JCI status just to attract more foreign patients, but it certainly helps.
Kameda now gets three to six patients per month from China, mainly for “ningen dokku” (preventive and comprehensive health checkups) and postsurgery chemotherapy that uses drugs patients cannot get in China.
Wocher expects to accept more patients from abroad next year, having recently signed an agreement with a major Chinese insurer that covers 3,000 affluent Chinese and expatriates.
Wocher said that accepting medical tourists from abroad would benefit long-term foreign residents in Japan as well, by expanding hospitals’ multilingual capabilities and amenities, although these might come at an additional cost.
“I think that the infrastructure required to accommodate medical travelers will benefit all foreign residents as hospitals become more foreigner-friendly,” he said. “Much of the infrastructure will involve patient choices, perhaps choices that were not available before.”
But for medical tourism to grow in Japan, the government needs to do more, Wocher said, noting the government has so far invested almost nothing in this area.
In South Korea, the government is spending the equivalent of $4 million this year to promote medical tourism. It issues a medical visa promptly when foreign patients get a letter from a South Korean doctor saying they will be treated there, he said.
But Toshiki Mano, a professor at Tama University’s medical risk management center, sounds a cautious note. Japanese hospitals face a shortage of doctors, particularly in high-risk fields such as obstetrics and gynecology. They might face public criticism if physicians spend more time on foreign patients who are not part of the national health insurance system.
“There would be a battle for resources,” Mano said.
But he added that accepting more patients from abroad could substantially help hospital finances. “It would give hospitals one way to make up for their sagging revenue,” Mano said.
NEW DELHI: The tightening of visa rules may impact India’s fledgling medical tourism industry. The guidelines, to be notified next week, specify that foreigners in India on a tourist visa, who have stayed in the country for over 90 days, will need to take a two-month “time-out” before returning.
This rule is bound to hit medical tourism, say experts from the sector. Explaining the drawback, a person associated with a prominent hospital, said, “Most of the patients and their relatives from nearby countries come here on tourist visas for treatment. After the surgery/treatment is done, they return to their respective countries but come back on the same tourist visa for review or further examination. But the new rules banning them from entering the country for at least two months is a major hurdle in their treatment process. This will only benefit our competitors such as Malaysia”.
He said that certain treatments require patients to stay a little longer than two months. Edris Foshanzee from Afghanistan is facing the same problem. Waiting for his turn at the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in R K Puram, he said, “I have been trying for an extension for the treatment of my 50-year-old mother for the past 14 days. The hospital said that my mother needs a surgery for which we need to stay longer. Why are visa norms getting stricter?”
Nods 86-year-old Hazi Mohammad Azim from Afghanistan, who was waiting in the long queue since 9 am. After a back-breaking wait of five hours, he fumes, “There’s still no clarity. I am suffering from throat problem and tomorrow my visa will expire. But I need an extension to continue my treatment.”
The changes have been introduced after the arrest of US national and terror suspect David Headley, who allegedly used his multiple-entry visa to the country, for terrorist activities. The US Embassy, meanwhile, has put up several complaints on its website. “The US Embassy and consulates in India have received reports from individuals about inconsistent implementation of the new rules which have not been widely publicised and are subject to change,” said the US mission here.
The confusion is palpable at the FRRO. A fundraising advisor and capacity builder with the National Trust, Michael J Rosenkrantz, was seen waiting since 9:30 am for an extension of his work visa — earlier the tourist visa doubled up as work visa. “Although so far I am not facing any problems, it would definitely affect tourists. I hope the Indian government takes some measures to ease entry for tourists and patients,” said Rosenkrantz.
Tourists too have started encountering hurdles in registration. Anahita Izadi from Iran said, “I was in India two years ago. Things are getting worse and tougher. Rules are not clear. I was in the queue for three hours and now to get to the next counter it will take another three hours.”
FRRO officials, however, said that the rush is due to the holiday season.
Formosa Medical Travel has launched its first Medical Tourism video, featuring an explanation of Taiwan’s world-class healthcare system, profiles of hospitals and medical centers, and insight from medical travelers. View the video below:
Asia is being seen as a growth center in the globalization of health services thanks to rising demand from developed countries as well as the region’s expanding middle class. But there are concerns that so-called medical tourism will shift resources away from public to private health care systems.
Over much of the past 10 years Thailand has led the growing medical tourism market, as foreigners sought lower cost health services and ready access to treatment.
The services available range from complicated cardiac surgery, to cosmetic surgery to dentistry and even alternative care, such as Chinese medicine, yoga and traditional Ayurvedic treatments.
Rising international travel and the availability of information on the Internet have boosted the number of travelers seeking treatment.
In Thailand, as many as 1.4 million visitors arrived seeking medical care in 2007, the most recent year numbers are available – up from half a million in 2001. Medical tourism brought in $1 billion in 2007 and that is expected to triple by 2012, when the Health Ministry expects more than two million medical tourists.
The largest numbers come from the European Union, followed by the Middle East and the United States.
Kenneth Mays, international marketing director for Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok, says the high standard of care has been a drawing card.
“Thailand offers a very ideal combination of medical quality and service quality. There are both private and public hospitals and it’s very consumer driven because most people pay for their own medical care. Americans will come here because its 60 to 80 percent less expensive for equivalent treatment,” said Mays.
But Thailand faces growing competition as more countries invest in medical services. Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and the Philippines are all promoting medical tourism.
Ruben Toral, chief executive officer of health industry consulting firm Medeguide, says more people will weigh low cost against quality guarantees when choosing destinations for treatment.
“You will pay for Singapore but you absolutely know what you will be getting. If you want absolute guarantees, you go to Singapore. If you want absolute price, you go to India. Thailand and Malaysia right now represent the value plays – good quality, great service, good product,” said Toral.
He says medical tourism is likely to grow.
“Asia will be and will continue to be the dominant force in medical tourism. Why? Because this is where you find number one the world’s biggest chunk of population – really between India and China there you have it, two-thirds the population just settled in this area. And this is also where you have a major emerging middle-class market,” he said.
Toral says that aging patients from North America, Europe, Australia and Japan also will look for places with plenty of access to low-cost care.
But there are concerns that increased investment in medical services for the wealthy will draw resources from the region’s public hospitals.
Critics say many public health facilities already are under strain and fear more professionals will abandon the public system for private practice.
Viroj Na Ranong, an economist with the Thailand Development Research Institute, a policy research agency, fears that shift is under way.
“When you compare the purchasing power – the foreign purchasing power would be much higher than the middle-class or upper-class purchasing power in Thailand. This is a fundamental issue whenever there is a burst of foreign patients then the doctor would be drawn to the private sector,” said Viroj Na Ranong.
Thailand’s National Health Commission reports that scores of medical specialists have moved from the state system to private health care.
The National Institute of Development Administration says medical tourism has exacerbated shortages of physicians, dentists and nursing staff in public facilities.
But Bumrungrad’s Mays doubts those claims.
“It doesn’t hold up to serious mathematics because Thailand sees about 1.4 million medical travelers from outside. That is a fraction of the total visits to doctors and admits [admissions] from Thais themselves,” said Mays. “It’s very important to the country’s economy and has a lot of advantages to the country – but we don’t think it’s taking a lion’s share of resources or too many resources from Thais themselves.”
May says that due to expanding private health care in Thailand – and limits on foreign doctors working in the country – there has been a reverse brain drain; Thai medical workers employed overseas are returning home.
Other medical professionals say many work part-time at private hospitals and also serve in public hospitals.
Several medical industry analysts say Asia’s rising economic strength and increasing investment in health services will be able to meet demand for affordable care both for people in the region and for world travelers.
One of the draws of medical tourism – alongside low costs and high quality care – is the transparency in pricing. In many cases in the United States, patients find it nearly impossible to get an accurate price quote before undergoing treatment. In many cases, hospitals in the United States offer different prices to patients with health insurance than the prices offered uninsured patients. Because of this, many hospitals are unwilling to provide a transparent pricing scheme. Oftentimes, insurance companies forge agreements with hospitals to charge patients a certain price within a certain “physician network,” and an entirely different price if patients choose a surgeon outside of the network. Uninsured patients often have to go into treatment without knowing what they will see on the final bill.
Overseas hospitals, including those in medical tourism destinations such as Taiwan, are much more transparent in their pricing plans. Patients are always provided with an itemized bill – which includes every single item the patient is expected to pay for, including medication, food, surgeon fees, and ward fees. The price quoted in the initial estimate is almost always the price paid after care is administered – except in cases where further treatment is required.
The hospitals in Formosa Medical Travel’s network offer all-inclusive knee and hip replacement packages, which include the price of treatment as well as accommodation and all other necessary expenditures. Patients who arrange surgery through Formosa Medical Travel will pay the exact rate they are quoted, and are provided with a fully-itemized bill.
The United States has among the highest costs in the world for hip replacement surgery. An American with no health insurance can expect to pay upwards of $45,000 at a typical hospital. Those with insurance will, barring a few exceptions, be covered by their provider. However, out-of-pocket expenses can still be costly for those who have health insurance. Patients with Medicare are eligible for hip replacement surgery.
For American patients without health insurance, it is worth considering medical tourism – leaving the country for hip replacement surgery. Many countries in the world offer hip replacement procedures for costs dramatically lower than those in the United States. We have listed hip replacement cost estimates for various medical tourism destinations, as well as the United States, in the chart below. The cost of total hip replacement surgery will also vary from patient to patient, depending on factors such as age and medical history.
Hip Replacement Cost
Taiwan: $8,000 – $13,000
India $8,000 – $12,200
Formosa Medical Travel works on behalf of patients seeking affordable knee and hip replacement surgery in Taiwan. As one of the world’s most developed countries, with a healthcare system ranked among the best, English-speaking doctors, no visa requirement, and some of the lowest surgical prices in the world, Taiwan has emerged as one of the most popular destinations for Americans seeking low-cost hip replacement surgery.
At Formosa Medical Travel, there is no charge for our services, and your procedure is fully insurable against complications through a US Insurer. Most of the hospitals in our network have been accredited by Joint Commission International (JCI). These world-class facilities provide outstanding care at rates far lower than those in the United States. We will book your surgery, transfer medical records, assist in finding your flight and hotel, and we’ll be there at the airport when you arrive, all at no cost to you.
An agency in eastern Ontario is launching an effort to bring down the long wait times for knee and hip replacement surgery in Ontario, Canada.
Currently, wait times for knee replacement and hip replacement surgery can be almost a year in many parts of eastern Ontario, compared with a provincial average of under 200 days. To help reduce this wait time, the Champlain Local Health Integration Network plans to launch a “Regional Hip and Knee Replacement Program” in early 2010, which is aimed at improving the quality of care offered to residents of the region. ”The idea is to try and reduce wait times” and “improve efficiencies,” said Dr. John Gordon, the lead physician for the program.
Wait times are a common theme for patients with debilitating osteoarthritis. While some methods are available to delay the need for knee replacement and hip replacement surgery, most patients with severe osteoarthritis of the hip or knee must, sooner or later, pursue joint replacement surgery to treat the problem. The long waiting lists in many parts of Canada require many patients to suffer pain and reduced mobility in the months leading up to surgery.
There are concerns that, if the United States adopts a healthcare system similar to that in Canada, there will be similar issues related to waiting lists. Since osteoarthritis is not considered a life-threatening condition, joint replacement surgery is often put off until it has reached a very advanced stage, which has large implications for the quality of life of those afflicted by osteoarthritis.
There’s a new player in town, and there’s no doubt many travel services will welcome it with open arms.
OK, medical tourism wasn’t born yesterday — insiders estimate there are thousands of companies doing this around the globe, many of them mom-and-pop operations — but pretty darn close. More importantly, it’s growing up quickly, with Formosa Medical Travel predicting a 14 percent growth in Asian markets alone from 2009 – 2012. In a year when any growth at all elicits applause, that’s a dazzling future. What’s more, Formosa says high-cost surgeries like orthopedic, cardiac, and cosmetic top the list of drivers for medical tourism.
So American-owned Formosa has quietly built a travel niche from this trend, signing agreements with leading hospitals in Taiwan, and recently earning the backing of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council. Taiwan’s health care system is currently considered one of the most efficient in the world, with administrative costs below 2 percent.
“While the debate over health care reform in the United States continues, the costs of medical care in Taiwan remain among the lowest in the world,” said Don Gilliland, Formosa’s chief operating officer, in a November 30 press release. For example, the price of total knee replacement surgery at a JCI-accredited hospital in Taiwan, including all surgical costs, VIP accommodations, concierge service, transportation, and round-trip airfare, is generally less than $15,000, while the price in the United States is often upwards of $60,000.
At the moment, Formosa specializes only in arrangements for knee and hip replacement surgeries. And, sticking to the traditional travel agency format, it does not charge a fee for its role in the planning…
Delaying total knee replacement surgery for more than a year may cause poorer outcomes for patient, says a new study by Mark D. Rossi, PT, PhD, CSCS et al. The study examines the outcomes of patients who elected to pursue knee replacement surgery soon after their initial orthopedic office visit, compared with those who wait for more than 325 days to undergo the procedure.
Patients who receive the surgery earlier, the study shows, have decreased pain and improved mobility after the procedure. Those who wait, on the other hand, show decreased functionality and a higher level of pain. “Those who have longer waiting periods perceive greater pain and difficulty with tasks, place less body weight over the involved limb during squatting, and have worse mobility scores than their counterparts who have less of a waiting time to have surgery,” the study indicates.
The group that delayed surgery scored significantly lower on most of the evaluations, including the ability to place weight on the operated leg and perform exercises, as well as a decreased range of motion. The late surgical group also reported “significantly greater pain” in their operated knees.
While Rossi et al. submit that more research must be done to reach a solid conclusion, these results indicate that knee replacement candidates are likely to achieve better outcomes by pursuing surgery sooner rather than waiting.
Many Americans, especially those without health insurance, cannot afford the high cost of knee replacement surgery in the United States, and are forced to delay total knee replacement for years – possibly resulting in poorer outcomes, as this study shows. While the cost of knee replacement in the United States is high – as much as $65,000 in many cases – the procedure is much less costly in other parts of the world.
Formosa Medical Travel offers knee replacement surgery in Taiwan, for a total price of less than $15,000 – including airfare, surgical cost, accommodation, transportation, and full concierge service. Formosa Medical Travel’s network of hospitals include some of the finest medical facilities in the world, many of which are accredited by the Joint Commission International, the American standard of hospital accreditation. For the thousands of Americans who are putting off knee replacement surgery due to the exorbitant prices in the United States, Formosa Medical Travel offers an inexpensive, high-quality alternative. For more details, visit FormosaMedicalTravel.com.
TAIPEI, Taiwan– Marking another step in the development of Taiwan’s medical tourism industry, TAITRA announces Formosa Medical Travel, the first American-owned and operated medical tourism agency offering service in Taiwan.
“We believe that this is a great step in the emergence of Taiwan as a premier medical tourism destination,” said TAITRA. “Formosa Medical Travel has entered into agreements with three of Taiwan’s major hospitals this year, including Tungs’ Taichung MetroHarbor Hospital, Show Chwan Memorial Hospital, and Changhua Christian Hospital. With their comprehensive website and premium level of service, Formosa Medical Travel offers patients an easy way to take advantage of the first-rate, affordable medical care offered in Taiwan.”
Taiwan’s healthcare system has long been praised as one of the most efficient in the world, with administrative costs below two percent. “While the debate over healthcare reform in the United States continues, the costs of medical care in Taiwan remain among the lowest in the world,” said Don Gilliland, Chief Operating Officer of Formosa Medical Travel. “For example, the price of total knee replacement surgery at a JCI-accredited hospital in Taiwan, including all surgical costs, VIP accommodations, concierge service, transportation, and round-trip airfare, is generally less than $15,000, while the price in the United States is often upwards of $60,000.”
Medical tourism has surged in recent years, as an increasing number of Americans are turning to lower-cost healthcare overseas as a way to save on medical bills. “Medical tourism is also drawing the attention of self-insured employers and small business owners,” said Gilliland, “because it is an effective way to reduce healthcare costs while still offering first-rate medical care to employees.”
Formosa Medical Travel’s website, FormosaMedicalTravel.com, offers patients a simple and comprehensive way to review doctors’ resumes and credentials, hospital accreditations and surgery prices, as well as frequently asked questions and a detailed explanation of procedures. With a simple three-step approach, Formosa Medical Travel assists patients in every step of the medical travel process, from start to finish.
About Formosa Medical Travel
Formosa Medical Travel, an American-owned and operated medical tourism company based in Taipei, works on behalf of American patients seeking high-quality medical care at affordable prices, connecting them with a network of world-class hospitals located in Taiwan. As a full-service medical tourism company, Formosa Medical Travel assists patients in all aspects of the process, from booking surgery and transferring medical records, to assistance in finding air travel and providing personalized concierge service. There is no charge to the patient for these services. To learn more, visit http://FormosaMedicalTravel.com.
Founded in 1970 to help promote foreign trade, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) is the foremost non-profit trade promotion organization in Taiwan. Jointly sponsored by the government, industry associations, and several commercial organizations, TAITRA assists Taiwan businesses and manufacturers with reinforcing their international competitiveness and in coping with the challenges they face in foreign markets.
TAITRA boasts a well-coordinated trade promotion and information network of over 600 trained specialists stationed at its Taipei headquarters, four local branch offices in Hsinchu, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung, and over 48 overseas branch offices worldwide. TAITRA’s Service Industry Promotion Center was inaugurated in July 2006 to facilitate the globalization of Taiwan’s burgeoning service industry.
As a medical tourism destination, Taiwan offers significant savings over the United States for many medical procedures. With the latest technology, state-of-the-art equipment, and medical centers that rival the finest hotels, Taiwan offers a medical tourism experience that is unparalleled in the world. Patients can expect to experience savings as high as 80% for many procedures – even after the cost of airfare.
Cost comparison for major procedures
The prices shown here are only estimates, and will vary from patient-to-patient. Formosa Medical Travel offers single knee replacement surgery, single hip replacement surgery, double knee replacement surgery, and double hip replacement surgery in Taiwan for costs dramatically lower than those in the United States.
Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of knee and hip pain, afflicting an estimated 40 million Americans. Also known as degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis can cause the deterioration of both the knee and hip. As the US population continues to age, it is estimated that osteoarthritis will affect as many as one in five Americans by the year 2020.
Although osteoarthritis is not life-threatening, it does have significant effects on the quality of life of those who suffer from it. While non-surgical treatments such as anti-inflammatory drugs – i.e. Naproxen, Aleve, Proxen, etc., and joint fluid injections (such as Hyaluronan, Synvisc, and Synflex) can delay the need for surgery, the only long-term solution is total joint replacement surgery.
There are a number of misconceptions about total hip replacement and total knee replacement surgery. The most common is that total knee replacement and total hip replacement are highly-dangerous procedures. In reality, total knee replacement and total hip replacement surgery have the highest success rates of any elective surgeries performed today.
Currently, the vast majority of knee and hip replacement surgeries are performed in minimally-invasive fashion. This allows for minimal scarring and faster healing times, while maintaining the same success rate. While some believe that minimally-invasive procedures may result in different outcomes, the data show that these procedures are equal to their more-invasive counterparts – the only difference being the size and appearance of the incision.
Another misconception is the idea that joint replacements can only last as long as twenty years. This is not necessarily the case. The reason for this is, of course, that the data being used for this assumption is based on knee and hip replacements that were performed twenty years ago. Research is constantly being done to increase the performance of joint replacement devices, and a great deal of time has gone into developing improved models. New production methods and materials will likely increase the lifetime of hip and knee replacements in the future.
On November 16th 2009, a group of 30 Mainland Chinese arrived for a 9 day medical tourism trip in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The medical tourists received a number of different procedures, including dental, skin, eye and cosmetic surgery. There were also a number of Chinese medicine treatments.
The secretary general of the Kaohsiung Medical Tourism Promotion Association noted that Kaohsiung has an edge over Taipei because of lower prices and more tourism opportunities.
Taiwan is an up-and-coming player in the medical tourism industry. Many of the short-term opportunities are right in Taiwan’s geographic back yard. However, whether or not large numbers of Chinese citizens will leave the mainland for Taiwan in search of medical care remains to be seen.
Because the cause of osteoarthritis is not known, there is no immediate cure, say experts. The only option to permanently get rid of the disease is by removing it, via total joint replacement. Osteoarthritis can be the direct cause of knee stiffness, knee pain, loss of movement, and inflexibility. There are, however, treatments which can help reduce pain and delay the need for total knee replacement or total hip replacement.
Some anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Naproxen – marketed under names such as Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn, Proxen, and Synflex – can be used in pain reduction and to reduce inflammation in the short term. These drugs can be a relatively safe alternative to surgery, although they are not without their risks.
Some treatments that are growing in popularity are joint fluid therapy and hyaluronan therapy, in which injections are made into the afflicted area to help restore movement and reduce pain. These treatments – which go under a number of names, including Synvisc, Supartz, Hyalgan, Euflexxa, chicken shots, rooster juice, and viscosupplementation – can often delay the need for a knee replacement by months, or even years. Cortisone shots are also sometimes administered as treatment. However, while some patients experience improvements in their condition, others report little to no benefit.
For younger, more active patients, a procedure known as knee osteotomy is sometimes used to shift the patient’s weight to the non-arthritic side of the knee. This is a less-invasive procedure, which can often delay the need for a total knee replacement for up to ten years.
For many patients, total joint replacement surgery is often the only long-term cure for osteoarthritis. In knee replacement surgery, surgeons replace the weight-bearing portions of the bone with artificial devices. This procedure, developed in the 1960s, has evolved over the years into one of the safest surgeries performed – although complications can occur in a small minority of patients. Knee replacements can last as long as 20 years in many patients, although the life of the device is dependent on many factors, such as the patient’s activity level.
For the millions of Americans suffering from debilitating knee pain and loss of mobility as a result of osteoarthritis, there are treatments. Anti-inflammatory drugs, joint fluid therapy, and knee osteotomy are all options that patients should consider when attempting to reduce knee pain caused by osteoarthritis. However, total knee replacement remains most successful treatment for curing osteoarthritis.
In a new report, the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions projects medical tourism to rebound strongly from the effects of the economic recession in coming years.
The report, entitled “Medical Tourism: Update and Implications”, says that while outbound medical travel from the United States fell by nearly 14% between 2007 and 2009 as a result of the recession, it is predicted to show a strong resurgence as economic conditions improve. The number of outbound medical travelers could be as much as 5 million per year by 2017, the report suggests, if the industry continues to grow at the expected rate of 35% per year.
Paul H. Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, expects outbound medical tourism to continue its rapid growth despite the efforts at healthcare reform in the United States. “There is nothing in current health reform bills that decelerates the cost of care,” said Keckley, “so that contributes to the appetite that people have.”
Healthcare costs will continue to rise by six percent per year for the next decade, the report says, making medical tourism an increasingly attractive option for the aging US population. With medical tourism “offering savings of up to 70 percent after travel expenses, we anticipate that the industry will recover from the current economic downturn,” said Heckley. ”Medical tourism represents an important option for patient populations who need care but lack adequate out-of-pocket funds to afford a procedure in the U.S., or those who seek lower prices for purposes of savings.”
Medical tourism represents an important option for patient populations who need care but lack
adequate out-of-pocket funds to afford a procedure in the U.S., or those who seek lower prices
On Thursday, November 6th, the International Medical Services Industry Forum 2009 was held at the World Trade Center in Taipei, Taiwan. Representatives from a number of different countries were in attendance at the event, which was sponsored by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council ( TAITRA).
The opening remarks were made by speakers from the Bureau of Foreign Trade, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Department of Health, and the Executive Yuan. The first keynote speech centered on the development of cardiac care in Taiwan, with a case study of Cheng Hsin General Hospital by Dr. Jeng Wei, the director of the heart center at Cheng Hsin. The second speech addressed the competitive advantages of plastic surgery in Taiwan, and was given by Dr. Yuen-Bih Tang, the director of plastic surgery at National Taiwan University Hospital.
After a short break, Dr. Gan Se Khem, the executive chairman of Health Management International gave an excellent speech on the strategic marketing of medical tourism in Asia. Finally, Dr. William Shwetzer from Tao Garden Health Spa and Resort gave a presentation on the integrative medical resort in Thailand.
The four-hour conference was very informative and well-attended. Formosa Medical Travel representatives were in attendance to answer questions presented by the hospitals and clinics that were present, as well as address the emergence of the American medical tourism market in Taiwan.
Most knee replacement alternatives focus on limiting pain, rather than treating the cause. Some optionsinclude anti-inflammatory medications, lifestyle changes, and other treatments – which can often reduce the pain caused by osteoarthritis, and delay the need for a knee replacement. In the intermediate stages of osteoarthritis, many patients are given joint fluid therapy, also known as “chicken shots” or “rooster juice“. Chicken shots for knee pain relief are a currently a very popular alternative to total knee replacement surgery.
Cortisone shots and Synvisc injections are also often succesful in limiting knee pain in the short term. However, in many cases, patients who are seeking a long-term solution to osteoarthritis should consider surgical treatment.
Before getting total knee replacement surgery, consult your doctor about some of these less-expensive alternatives.
More medical tourists may also contribute to further globalization of lab testing
Medical tourism continues to be a force with the potential to exert significant influence on healthcare in the United States. For that reason, experts have weighed in recently on how efforts to reform healthcare may either inhibit or encourage growth in the number of Americans opting to become medical tourists.
Just as medical tourism has the potential to be transformative to certain aspects of healthcare here in this country, Dark Daily believes that medical tourism may also encourage greater globalization of pathology services and clinical laboratory testing. For both reasons, pathologists and clinical laboratory managers will find recent commentary to be enlightening…
PRLog (Press Release) – Oct 12, 2009 – High cost of treatments in developed countries is proving beneficial for medical tourism market in Asia. Resultantly, the region has emerged as one of the fastest growing medical tourism destinations worldwide. According to our new research study “Asian Medical Tourism Analysis (2008-2012)” the Asian medical tourism market is projected to grow at a CAGR of around 14% during 2009-2012.
We have done an extensive research and analysis of both current and past market trends at country level to give qualitative information of the Asian medical tourism industry’s progress over the past few years. Analysis has been done of all major markets like India, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea and the Philippines.
According to our research, Thailand and Singapore are dominating the market and this trend is expected to continue in future as well. The research also highlights the reasons that are driving growth in these markets, along with roadblocks before the industry.
Going ahead, our research also studies the market on types of treatments and surgeries sought by foreign medical tourists. After thorough evaluation, we have found that most of patients come for high cost surgery like Orthopedic, Cardio, and cosmetic surgery. In this segment, our research provides detailed information and analysis of number of tourist arrivals, cost analysis of different treatments and other demographics. The report gives comprehensive information about target country level market which will help clients in defining and planning their market strategy in a better way.
“Asian Medical Tourism Analysis (2008-2012)” also provides information of key competitors in the market along with their business information and areas of expertise. This will give client an additional edge over other competitors in the market. Overall, our research study provides valuable information to clients looking to venture into these markets and helps them to devise strategies while going for an investment/partnership in these markets.
TAIPEI, Taiwan– Formosa Medical Travel, a medical tourism facilitation company headquartered in Taipei, has entered into agreements with three of Taiwan’s leading hospitals, with the assistance of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA). Tungs’ Taichung MetroHarbor Hospital, Show Chwan Memorial Hospital, and Changhua Christian Hospital are the three newest members of Formosa Medical Travel’s network.
“We believe that Taiwan is destined to develop into one of the leading countries in Asia’s medical tourism market,” said Tom Griffith, Executive Vice President of Formosa Medical Travel. “The quality of medical care in Taiwan has long been lauded for its efficiency and modernity, and these three facilities stand at the forefront. We know that medical travelers will find Taiwan to be a very accessible, highly-developed country, and these world-class facilities reflect a healthcare system that ranks among the finest in the world. We are thrilled to form a relationship with these world-class facilities and their medical teams.” With this expansion of its network, Formosa Medical Travel has increased the options available to patients seeking low-cost solutions in medical tourism.
Among Americans, medical tourism has experienced rapid growth in recent years, as an increasing number of patients seek alternatives to high costs in the United States. Taiwan provides one of the appealing options in travel, with internationally-accredited hospitals, world-class healthcare professionals, the latest in medical technology, and friendly, patient-oriented services. Taiwan’s highly-developed medical infrastructure, combined with its low administrative costs and efficient service, has allowed it to offer medical procedures at costs competitive with the world’s most popular medical travel destinations.
“Our hospital was accredited last year by Joint Commission International, an international branch of JACHO, U.S.A. FORMOSA has visited us many times and were very impressed by the high quality and reasonable cost of our joint replacement procedure,” said Jui-Lung Tung, Vice Superintendent (Administration) of Tungs’ Taichung MetroHarbor Hospital. Show Chwan Memorial Hospital and Changhua Christian Hospital also expressed their high expectation about the collaboration. They believe this not only marks another step in the emergence of Taiwan as a premier destination in medical tourism, but also proves the high quality of Taiwan’s medical service.
About Formosa Medical Travel
Formosa Medical Travel works on behalf of patients seeking affordable knee and hip replacement surgery abroad, connecting them with a network of world-class hospitals located in Taiwan. These facilities provide outstanding medical care while offering patients significant savings. Formosa Medical Travel books patients’ surgery, transfers medical records, assists in finding flights and hotels, and provides concierge services to customers in Taiwan. There is no charge to the patient for these services. To learn more, visit Formosa Medical Travel
Founded in 1970 to help promote foreign trade, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) is the foremost non-profit trade promotion organization in Taiwan. Jointly sponsored by the government, industry associations, and several commercial organizations, TAITRA assists Taiwan businesses and manufacturers with reinforcing their international competitiveness and in coping with the challenges they face in foreign markets.
TAITRA boasts a well-coordinated trade promotion and information network of over 600 trained specialists stationed throughout its Taipei headquarters, four local branch offices in Hsinchu, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung, and over 48 overseas branch offices worldwide. TAITRA’s Service Industry Promotion Center was inaugurated in July 2006 to facilitate the globalization of Taiwan’s burgeoning service industry.
At Formosa Medical Travel, we work on behalf of patients seeking affordable knee and hip replacement surgery abroad, connecting them with a network of world-class hospitals located in Taiwan. These facilities provide outstanding medical care while offering patients significant savings. We book patients’ surgery, transfer medical records, assist in finding flights and hotels, and provide concierge services to patients in Taiwan. There is no charge for our services.
With medical teams that speak fluent English and are trained and educated in the United States, American patients can have confidence that the quality of healthcare they will receive in Taiwan will meet or exceed that of the United States – at a fraction of the cost.
Formosa Medical Travel specializes in facilitating knee and hip replacement surgery, and nothing else. Since this is our only focus, we are able to provide our patients with a level of service for joint replacement surgery that is unparalleled in medical travel.
Unlike most medical travel facilitators, we do not offer a wide variety of procedures in a dozen different places. We operate in Taiwan, a modern, developed country, and we have close relationships with our network of hospitals and doctors.
Formosa Medical Travel works hard to ensure a comfortable and rewarding medical trip to Taiwan. We make traveling for medical care safe, easy, and affordable. After you get in touch with us via e-mail or phone, we will provide you with the information and guidance you need to choose a hospital and doctor. Then, we’ll assist you in requesting your surgery, transferring medical information, obtaining an evaluation from your medical team, booking an initial consultation, and scheduling your surgery. We will help you book your flight and hotel. When you arrive in Taiwan, we’ll be waiting for you at the airport. All necessary transportation will be arranged. We’ll take care of all the details – from your arrival to your departure.