Archive for the Medical Tourism Category

What Turns a Domestic Patient into a Medical Tourist?

What Turns a Domestic Patient into a Medical Tourist
The medical travel and medical tourism industries are growing. To benefit from these industries, a hospital or medical provider must develop a clear and concise marketing campaign to attract these traveling patients. Competition in health care has increased due to the growing number of entrants into this space and because the process of educating and motivating a patient to leave home for medical care goes against the natural urge for people to receive their health care close to home.

Why Are People Adverse to Medical Travel?

Medical travel is based on the need for affordable health care. In general terms, your life and your health are the most important things in your life. You can’t enjoy life’s other benefits of life if you’re ill, in pain or wracked with disease. You can’t plan for the future if you’re not sure you have a future. More importantly, if you have children or other people who depend on you, it would be irresponsible to neglect your health and risk leaving them with no support. That’s why most people are typically conservative about care for our health. We understand how important our health is and we do what we can to protect it.

We humans are creatures of habits. That which we “know” gives us comfort. When it comes to our lives and health, we are generally not willing to take risks. That’s generally why most people do not consider looking outside of their home country for medical care. For many, the savings gained through medical tourism is often not a good enough reason for risking getting a procedure in a different country, especially if they’ve never been there or if they don’t speak the language. Despite the financial savings, the psychological barriers may be too great to allow a potential traveler to pick up the phone and make arrangements. As a hospital or medical provider, what can you do to fight this understanding?

The Difference Medical Travel Marketing Makes

Medical travel marketing rooted in education is important because it helps patients overcome psychological barriers by providing them the essential tools to make the medical travel decision: education and assurance, an abundance of assurance.

A successful medical travel marketing campaign shows your hospital or health center as a place that is safe and trustworthy. It makes one feel that he or she is welcome, among friends that can be trusted and that everything is going to be ok. It shows that language, currency, eating and getting there are not going to be a problem. But most importantly, it shows that the quality of medical care will be equal to the quality they would expect back home.

When your marketing makes both the psychological and financial hurdles vanish or seem diminished, THAT is the moment when it is possible to transform a domestic patient into a medical tourist. The Goodness Company helps our clients break down barriers by marketing that educates and generates confidence.

To learn more how The Goodness Company can help you attract medical tourism patients, contact us today.

General Information Essentials for Medical Tourists

General Information Essentials for Medical Tourists
Most hospitals focus on the qualifications of their medical team, how modern their facility is, and educating patients about the medical procedures they perform. All of this information is essential. However, it is not enough.

Going to another country, especially for the first time, can be a daunting experience for many people. And if you’re sick or uncomfortable, you may find it to be even more stressful. That’s why you should also provide your potential patients with information that will let them feel that the risk of traveling to your facility is minimal.

Here are some examples of general information that’s good to include on your website or in your literature.

a) Hearing from top personnel
Highly successful facilities often have the president, chief of staff, head surgeon or other top personnel make the first contact with patients. This is very impressive, reassuring and leaves little doubt that the potential traveler will be treated as a valued and welcomed patient.

b) Extensive contact information
Giving patients a way to contact important staff members and urgent care numbers by phone 24-hours a day conveys the idea of reliability and trust. It shows that you’re responsible. Even if a patient prefers to write an e-mail, he or she will still think better of you if there’s a phone number where you can be reached—and when the phone rings, if someone who sounds friendly and who can understand their language will quickly answer and respond to their question or request.

c) Travel information
You occasionally find webpages where hospitals don’t mention their address. Sometimes it’s even difficult to discover the city they are located in. It is assumed that everyone locally knows where a prominent facility is. But that’s not going to be the case for someone who comes from abroad.

Top facilities make it clear how to get to their door from airport, bus and train terminals. There is often information about how to find a reliable taxi. However, the best facilities will also help with travel arrangements and greet the arriving patient at the airport and help with baggage.

d) Where to eat and stay
Patients may not be spending all their days in your hospital. Many will travel with someone else—perhaps a friend or family member. It’s a good idea to offer them information about places to stay and restaurants that are reasonably priced and that offer foods that would be familiar or suitable for dietary restrictions.

Some of the best medical tourism destinations will book hotels or allow a family member to stay in the hospital with the patient, eat with the patient, etc. Some will even do laundry for both the patient and the family member. Attention to details like this demonstrates a level of consideration and caring that reassure even the most nervous traveler.

e) Testimonials in their language
It is highly reassuring to see and hear from others who have had medical procedures or treatment at your hospital or clinic. Video is so readily available and inexpensive that you should be soliciting video testimonials from satisfied patients and perhaps even do the filming upon discharge or before a patient leaves the country.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it gives you some idea of what potential patients will want to see. That’s why you need an ally like The Goodness Company, medical tourism marketing specialists. We have the knowledge and experience in medical travel marketing that will help you transform your website into a medical tourist magnet. Contact us today to learn more about how we can work together to take your organization to the next level.

Getting Trampled by the Bulls: Cheaper than a US Hip Replacement

Cheaper than a US Hip Replacement
After some research on hip replacement surgery prices in the U.S, I came to the realization that getting trampled by the bulls in Spain is a cheaper alternative than getting a hip replacement in the US.

Ok, here is how I figured it out: (Some math ahead! You have been warned.)

Cost of hip replacement in the US = unknown.

What do you mean “unknown?” Won’t hospitals give you a cost?

Hard to believe…but true. Only 10% of hospitals in the U.S will give you a complete price for a hip replacement before you get one. The rest reserve the right to tack on extras like $200 painkillers. (I’ve heard that smiling is not included in the price, but I can’t confirm this.) Independent studies show that hip replacement prices can range from $30,000 to $125,000, depending on the location, the color scheme of the hospital, and the perceived thickness of your wallet. Ok, let’s say that the average is about $60,000 US.

Cost of hip replacement in Spain = $8,000 (I rounded up from an actual price of $7,300.)

Cost of round-trip flight from New York City to Madrid = $1,350.

Now, despite what you may think, the running of the bulls doesn’t happen in Madrid. It happens in Pamplona. So, you have to add the cost of a flight from Madrid to Pamplona in July when the running of the bulls takes place. (And yes, I used July, 2014 to get the ticket prices. That’s how nerdy I am.)

Cost of round trip flight from Madrid to Pamplona = $400

Cost of 8 nights (for the full Festival of Sanfermines experience) in the best suite in Pamplona’s best 5-star hotel (including the most expensive breakfast) = $23,000

So, I can fly to Madrid, have a hip replacement, fly to Pamplona, stay 8 nights in the best room in the best hotel, eat like a king, run with the bulls, get trampled, fly back to Madrid, have another hip replacement to replace my broken hip replacement, and fly back to the States for $41,000 US.

And that would still be cheaper than the $60,000 price I’d have to pay at home for one hip replacement.

Or, I could just fly to Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia or any one of 50 really cool vacation destinations with great healthcare and get my hip replacement surgery, physical therapy and a couple weeks of enjoyable relaxing vacation time for a fraction of the price for the same hip replacement surgery at home.

Patrick Goodness, CEO: The Goodness Company: Global Healthcare Marketing


 

Patrick Goodness: Bio

Patrick Goodness is one of the most recognized names in the global healthcare and medical marketing industry. Healthcare organizations from around the world rely on Patrick for insightful marketing consultation, marketing planning and international public relations services. Patrick’s results-driven approach to marketing has helped hospitals, medical centers, medical practices, dental offices and medical organizations around the world transform their brand and dramatically increase sales and profitability.

Experience

As CEO of The Goodness Company, Global Healthcare & Medical Tourism Marketing, Patrick has earned the confidence and repeat business of some of the worlds’ top healthcare organizations. Patrick offers a wide spectrum of marketing and public relations consulting services focused on building powerful branding and dramatically increasing sales. Patrick’s extensive healthcare marketing experience, his global network of clients and colleagues, and his ability to build and deliver valuable marketing concepts and tools that generate significant results are the reason for his popularity and his leadership in global healthcare marketing.

Patrick is recognized globally for his work in the following areas:

  • Healthcare Marketing
  • Healthcare Destination Branding
  • Medical & Dental Practice Branding
  • Medical Tourism Marketing
  • International Healthcare Public Relations
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Relationship Marketing

Connect with Patrick via email at patrick@goodnesscompany.com

Medical Tourism Marketing in the Bahamas

Medical Tourism Marketing in the Bahamas

Medical Tourism Marketing: Making a Difference in the Bahamas Health Care Industry

The Bahamas is becoming a popular destination for medical tourists who are looking for quality care at affordable prices. The country is specifically attractive to Americans and Canadians, who can take a short flight, receive their medical care, and then recover on the beautiful sandy beaches of the Bahamas.

In today’s global economy, such a success doesn’t occur by happenstance. It requires commitment. The Bahamas health care industry has shown its commitment by building the infrastructure, training its brightest students at the best medical schools, coaching its staff how to treat international patients so that they feel reassured and truly welcome, and by investing in the most modern medical equipment available.

However, being excellent at what you do is not enough. You have to be able to reach potential patients and promote your services in ways that they find understandable and helpful. Awareness doesn’t just happen. It must be generated.

Since doctors and hospital directors dedicate themselves fully to their professions, the best solution is to engage marketing expertise to help your organization generate awareness. Top health organizations know this. This is why the prestigious Bahamas Medical Center is working with The Goodness Company, leaders in medical tourism marketing to present their healthcare services to the international healthcare marketplace.

Remember, promoting healthcare services for one organization has a halo effect for all the others in that country or region. Before long people begin to associate the Bahamas with healthcare. Eventually the Bahamas may begin to occupy a “top of mind” status when people think about cosmetic surgery, bariatric surgery or even orthopedic surgery. The Goodness Company, and their team of medical tourism marketing professionals continues to help the Bahamas healthcare industry achieve these goals.

Top Ten Reasons To Choose Bahamas Medical Center from The Goodness Company.

Giving Access to an International Market

For the Bahamas medical care industry, the United States and Canada were obvious markets, but it’s not always that simple. A qualified medical tourism marketing agency can help identify not only primary national markets, but specific demographic groups as well.

Even after selecting your target market, there are many questions that need to be asked and answered to develop a strong medical tourism marketing campaign. The Goodness Company has helped the Bahamas Medical Center save time and improve their processes by having the experience and knowledge to ask and answer the questions that matter. What are the top target cities to promote Bahamas medical tourism? Is public relations an important part of medical tourism marketing? What are the benefits of relationship marketing for medical tourism success? The answers to these and hundreds more medical tourism marketing questions are critical for success. Experience and knowledge count. The Goodness Company has the answers and the experience to provide clients with a clear competitive advantage in the medical tourism marketplace.

Custom Medical Tourism Marketing Strategies

Marketing is much more than advertisements and commercials. It requires a planned, coherent strategy that will work in the short, medium and long term.

A marketing strategy for medical tourism involves many complex inter-related aspects: marketplace positioning, branding, prices and payments (form, currency and time), authoritative information about services and procedures, delivery of services, promotions, marketing channels, effective web and media presence, tracking of effectiveness, etc. The Goodness Company has helped the Bahamas Medical Center develop a strategy that works.

Translating Your Concept Culturally

Different cultures have different values and different ways of approaching healthcare. What is normal in one culture can be taboo or offensive in another. Since 1994, The Goodness Company has been developing global healthcare marketing solutions. Over the years, the medical tourism marketing team at The Goodness Company has come to understand many of the differences and valuable similarities between cultures in target markets. For example, The Goodness Company helped The Bahamas Center team understand the value and attraction of their warm island approach to personal and friendly healthcare. It is this attribute and approach to patient service that makes American and Canadian customers feel comfortable and reassured.

Even the best of hospitals and clinics can’t do it all alone. It takes teamwork with an experienced marketing agency that has a commitment to success in marketing medical tourism. The Goodness Company has demonstrated that commitment as a leading global healthcare marketing agency. We welcome the opportunity to discover what makes your program different and better and to help you successful market your healthcare brand to the world.

Contact Patrick to discuss availability and pricing to speak at your upcoming event. Email: patrick@goodnesscompany.com

Dental Marketing: Make a lasting first impression with these website tips

Make sure your ‘online smile’ leaves a quick, impressive first impression.

First Impression - Dental Marketing Tips

You know how important a great smile is to making a good first impression. Why should your dental practice website be any different?

In a recent survey conducted by Match.com, more than 5,000 American single adults, both male and female, were asked how they judge members of the opposite sex for attraction and compatibility. 71% of women and 58% of men rated the smile as the most important attribute for measuring attractiveness.

Dental Marketing

For those of us in the dental marketing industry, this report comes as no surprise.  Additional support for the importance of a beautiful smile comes to us from a survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). This survey concludes that nine out of every 10 adults in America consider an attractive smile to be an important social asset and eight out of 10 believe an unattractive smile makes a person less appealing to the opposite sex.

A website’s first impression

It is clear that a beautiful white smile is critical to overall attraction and to making a successful first impression. But in the world of dental marketing, how important is your dental clinic’s website in making the critical first impression and to attracting the right patient?

Dr. Hong Sheng, who conducted an in-depth eye-tracking research study at Missouri University of Science and Technology, said it takes a website user less than two-tenths of a second to form a first impression when viewing a website and only 2.6 seconds for a user’s eyes to land on an area of a website that impacts their first impression.

Your website is your smile

What is abundantly clear is that a company’s website is an essential critical tool for demonstrating consumer attractiveness.  Quite simply, your website is your online smile. Nearly 90% of professionals use company websites as their primary tool for gathering information and forming impressions prior to contacting a vendor for purchases. In today’s Internet savvy marketplace, the failure to have a high quality, professionally designed dental website, filled with critical content, is a failure to reach almost 90% of your target market.

Invest in your online smile

Time and again I hear dentists telling their patients the importance of quality dental work and the value of investing in the best dental care for future health and happiness. Yet, a cursory review of thousands of dental practice websites across the U.S. reveals a surprising lack of investment in quality dental website design, dental branding and informative dental procedure content. In short, the dental industry’s online smile is a bit stained and missing a few teeth.

As a dentist, or dental clinic owner, your success in the increasingly competitive dental marketplace is predicated on your ability to communicate with potential patients about what makes you different and, most importantly, what makes you better than your competitors. This is a valuable element of results-driven dental practice marketing.  An investment in quality branding and website development for your dental practice is critical to building a base of patients that know you, like you and trust you…the basics of health care relationship marketing.

The AACD participants surveyed said they would like to make some improvement in the appearance of their smile.  If your branding is out of date, your website needs a makeover or it’s time to rethink your marketing approach, seek the advice of a professional dental marketing agency to help you craft a dental marketing plan that delivers results and will prepare your practice for years of success.

If you’re not convinced that this article applies to you…please take an honest look at your logo, website and marketing materials and ask yourself, “Would I be impressed with my first impression?”  It’s never too late to make an improvement to your online smile.


Patrick GoodnessAs published in the July Issue of Dental Products Report
Dental Products Report
Wed, 2013-07-31 10:22 | by Patrick Goodness

Top Medical Tourism Procedures Announced: Growth in Demand Drives Competition

Strategic Healthcare Marketing Initiatives Will Create Clear Winners in Medical Tourism Marketplace

Top Medical Tourism Procedures Announced: Growth in Demand Drives Competition
Most hospitals, medical centers and dental providers involved with medical tourism understand that the most popular procedures driving medical travel in recent years are cosmetic, dental, bariatric and orthopedic procedures.  What may surprise many in the medical tourism industry is the increased number of patients that are traveling to take advantage of other less recognized medical procedures. Treatments such as stem-cell therapy, fertility treatments and cancer treatments have seen significant growth in demand and popularity, reports Pramod Goel, CEO of PlacidWay.

Top Treatments and Procedures by Global Demand Percentage

(Source: PlacidWay Medical Travel Company, 2013)

  • Beauty Procedures (cosmetic, anti-aging, etc.) – 20%
  • Stem Cell Therapy & Chronic Diseases – 13%
  • Fertility Treatment – 12%
  • General Surgeries – 10%
  • Dentistry – 10%
  • Obesity/Bariatric / Weight loss Surgeries – 7%
  • Orthopedic & Spinal Surgery – 7%
  • Alternative Medicine – 7%
  • Eye/Lasik Vision Care – 5%
  • Cancer Treatment – 5%
  • Heart Care/Cardiac Surgeries – 5%

As increased numbers of international patients travel for medical care, more and more hospitals, doctors, dentists and wellness providers will enter the global healthcare marketplace to earn their share of the growing medical tourism market.  This growth in both demand and competition will affect current market leaders and new entrants alike.

Most medical providers will continue to compete on price, quality and location.  However to lead in the emerging medical tourism marketplace, international healthcare providers will need to differentiate their medical services from their competitors.  “An investment in positively branded healthcare marketing, medical advertising and public relations, centered on creating trust-based relationships among potential patients is critical for success in the new international healthcare marketplace,” says Patrick Goodness, CEO of The Goodness Company: Global Healthcare & Medical Tourism Marketing. “Today’s medical traveler is a well-informed and educated buyer.  They’re not just looking for the lowest price.  Today’s medical tourism patients seek a competitive price on quality medical care from someone they trust. The key to success in the competitive medical tourism marketplace is to develop reliable marketing and relationship development strategies that generate confidence and build trust.”

“Since 88% or more of potential patients will learn about your healthcare or wellness practice online, investments in healthcare and wellness branding and website marketing are essential to building a strong pipeline of international patients,” says Goodness. “If potential patients do not understand what makes you special, and what makes your organization a better match for their healthcare needs, they will never choose you.  Successful healthcare marketing is patient-centric.  It answers patient’s questions before they have a chance to ask them, and provides patients with reliable, trustworthy information that enables them to say ‘Yes’ to your offer with complete confidence.  In a competitive global healthcare marketplace, a strategic approach to patient marketing will separate the leaders from the followers and will create clear winners in the expanding medical tourism marketplace.”

About The Goodness Company:

The Goodness Company: Global Healthcare & Medical Tourism Marketing has helped many hospitals, medical centers, private practices and dental clinics create and manage their brands to become leaders in the growing international healthcare marketplace.  The Goodness Company develops high-quality comprehensive healthcare websites, medical marketing, video marketing, results-driven print and online ads, public relations campaigns, and original editorial content to give their clients a competitive edge.  The end result of our efforts is to help our healthcare clients develop lasting relationships with potential patients built on the foundation of credibility, honesty and trust.

If your hospital, medical clinic, dental clinic or health and wellness facility could benefit from targeted healthcare and medical marketing, trust The Goodness Company: the most recognized name in healthcare and medical travel marketing.

Content is Key to Healthcare Marketing Success

How do you turn patient leads into actual patients?  One word.  TRUST.

Before potential patients can trust you, they must first come to know you and like you.

Trust cannot be purchased.  It must be earned.

Effective Content Marketing

Success Content MarketingQuality online and editorial content about your organization, your physicians, your procedures and the quality of care is a step toward earning patient trust.  With the right content, patients begin to see you as a knowledgeable, helpful resource in their search for the right healthcare solution.

Successful healthcare content marketing starts with understanding your patients.  To build an effective content marketing campaign, you need to know who your patients are, what they like to read, and at what stage in the buying process they are ready to read it.

Content marketing and positive editorial exposure through public relations builds trust and credibility. The right content allows you to share best practices, insights, and advice. The best content informs prospective patients, facilitates the healthcare buying process, and lays the foundation for an ongoing conversation based in trust.

What are the stages of the patient decision-making process?

To create the best content to match your prospective patient’s needs, it’s best to outline the key stages on their path from prospect to patient.

While the patient journey varies, most patients are likely to go through the following stages:

  • Awareness. The patient recognizes a problem or a need and seeks a way to define what’s wrong and how to fix it. Good content anticipates the issues they are trying to solve and provides the answers they are trying to find.
  • Research. The patient researches and examines how others have solved the same issue. This is when patient testimonials and video documentation are very helpful.
  • Consideration. The patient sorts through options, reading content from various sources to determine differences between possible providers, and begins to rank potential provider solutions.
  • Decision. The patient creates a short list of providers to research and evaluate further.  This final research eventually leads to a decision.

The relevance and availability of this information is critical at each stage of the decision-making process.  At the awareness stage, patients need to discover what may be wrong and the best solution to fix it.  At the consideration stage, patients begin to evaluate different healthcare and provider solutions. The key to success is to find out what kind of information prospective patients want and need at each stage.

After you discover what they need, you can begin to create and market the kind of content that meets these needs. Create a strong foundation of trust by publishing valuable information for patients at every stage of their journey and you will transform a greater number of leads into patients.

Healthcare Branding and Sales Basics

Successful Branding

Successful BrandingMost healthcare marketing executives struggle with the idea of branding.  In a recent survey of marketers by Forrester Research, the desire to differentiate one’s brand, establish a clear difference between competitors and build awareness in new markets were cited as the top reasons for investing in branding or rebranding development. Successful branding starts with the brand promise and the organization’s ability to ignite the cognitive sparks of target patients and influencers.

As healthcare marketers, we understand that patients are interested in solving pressing health and wellness concerns. Most patients are open to receiving information that helps them make an informed decision, as long as it doesn’t cross the line into hard line sales tactics. The key is education.  Seriously obese, potential bariatric patients don’t instantly gravitate toward bariatric surgery.  They start with a desire to lose weight.  With proper education, bariatric surgery becomes an option.  A woman seeking cosmetic surgery doesn’t look in the mirror and automatically decide to get a facelift.  She looks in the mirror and decides that she would like to look younger.  A facelift is one of many options available to her to achieve that goal.

As healthcare marketing consultants we routinely ask ourselves if we are helping our clients engage effectively as they work to build relationships with patients.  The goal is to provide patients with the information they seek and to establish and communicate a brand promise that truly differentiates our clients from their competitors.  But it’s not enough to be different.  Patients don’t choose a doctor or hospital because they appear to be different.  They choose a doctor or hospital because they are a better fit for their needs. Consequently, the branding value proposition needs to focus on differentiation with a goal of demonstrating why your organization is not only different… but better.

Patients today have a better understanding of their options, and are not likely to spend money without a great deal of thought and research behind the purchase.  Healthcare providers that have a clear, strong brand supported by a powerful web presence filled with informative content that helps define their value proposition will have a definitive advantage.  Most patients prefer to research potential provider options online.  When they select their top choices, they want to be able to communicate quickly and efficiently, and to make a decision based on the promise of a measurable outcome. If your brand isn’t strong enough to communicate your value proposition, you will never get the chance to demonstrate why and how you are a better fit for their needs.

At one time or another in our lives, we are all patients.  As a patient, I will not choose a provider that doesn’t take the time to understand my issues and help me solve them. While I may conduct the initial research online, or even take the advice of a friend or colleague, in the end I want a relationship with a healthcare provider that truly understands and fulfills my needs and can give me the results I seek. This is when change management becomes a critical step for success.

To get a better understanding of a patient’s problems and how to solve them, we need to change the way we market and sell our healthcare products and services. We may also need to retrain our sales and patient service teams.

Selling healthcare services is unique but not totally removed from the process of selling a traditional product.  Today, healthcare sales and marketing is all about defining a patient problem, and then combining products, services and expertise to deliver a solution, including post care and ongoing access to consultation and advice.

Remember: before a patient can purchase your healthcare services, they first need to become believers in your brand. As a marketing consultant, we help our clients understand that their patients don’t just buy healthcare services. They buy the fact that our clients listen to their needs, meet their expectations and deliver on their brand promise.

Promises matter.  They matter to us in our personal lives.  They matter to us in business.  And they really matter in healthcare.  Your brand promise dictates how you should execute every stage of the patient experience.

Make sure you deliver.

Costa Rica: Medical Tourism Hot Spot

Patrick Goodness: CEO The Goodness Company: Medical Tourism Marketing

Millions of tourists come to Costa Rica every year to experience the country’s world-renowned natural treasures and to enjoy a taste of Costa Rica’s friendly, welcoming hospitality.  Over the last decade however, as the price of quality healthcare has skyrocketed in the US with no apparent end in sight, another breed of tourist…the medical tourist…is arriving, intent on seeking out the best and most affordable healthcare options that have made Costa Rica the envy of its Latin and North American neighbors.

Medical tourism in Latin America is a new and exciting trend created by two critical factors.

1. The disparity in healthcare pricing between first world countries like the US and Canada and their second world cousins to the south like Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico.  For example, a knee replacement may cost upwards of $40,000 in the US and only $8,000-$12,000 in leading Latin American hospitals.  A dental implant may cost $3,000 in the US compared to a price tag of only $700-$900 per tooth in a top Costa Rica dental clinic.

2. The disparity caused by a lack of availability of healthcare procedures that may be restricted or unavailable in North America, but are widely available at much lower prices in other countries.  For example, many Canadians simply do not have access to needed medical procedures when needed, due to long patient waiting lists.  Additionally, many cutting edge or alternative procedures such as stem cell therapy are simply not available in the US, due to ongoing political and scientific debate.  These procedures are available in many countries around the world and are gaining popularity in Latin America as well.

While countries like India and Thailand are global leaders in medical tourism, a report by McKinsey & Company indicates that medical tourists from the US and Canada prefer Latin American countries like Costa Rica, citing proximity, shorter flights, affordable costs and the chance for a memorable vacation as the main reasons for their preference.

While the pricing for medical services is often 50% to 70% less than comparable care in the US, many medical tourists choose Costa Rica for the excellent reputation of its private healthcare system.  In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Costa Rica is rated higher than the US and many other “first world” nations in terms of quality health care.  A visit to any of Costa Rica’s top private hospitals and dental clinics will provide evidence of Costa Rica’s preferred status.  Modern hospitals, medical clinics and dental centers with cutting edge medical technology are staffed by board-certified doctors and surgeons with impressive national, North American or European training.

Approximately 500,000 Americans travel abroad each year for health care services.  While exact numbers are hard to find, it has been reported that Costa Rica received approximately 75,000 to 100,000 medical tourists in 2010.  These numbers are expected to grow along with Costa Rica’s reputation as a global medical tourism leader.

For those involved in the health care or tourism sectors, medical tourism represents a significant revenue opportunity.  While hospitals, medical clinics and dental centers are clear beneficiaries of increased medical and dental tourism, hotels, restaurants, tour operators and all of their associated supply chain partners should consider medical tourism as an outstanding growth opportunity.

While the average tourist may stay an average of 8-9 days, medical tourists visiting Costa Rica stay an average of 11 days and often travel with friends and family, dramatically increasing tourism revenues.  With medical tourism revenues anticipated to exceed $100 Billion globally in 2012, Costa Rica stands to earn an increasingly larger piece of this very big pie. One ICT approved travel agency, Costa Rican Trails, stresses nature vacation packages and the co-owner, Wilhelm von Breymann, was recently elected as the new Minister of Tourism, and intends to promote not only sustainable tourism, but also the benefits of medical and dental tourism.