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About Philippa Kennealy

 

Philippa Kennealy MD MPH CPCC PCC is The Entrepreneurial MD Business Coach who wants to help you build your business!
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« Seven steps to boosting your entrepreneurial creativity | Main | Is your networking message unforgettably "sticky"? »
Wednesday
Apr042007

A new take on the Medical Concierge idea

4-04-07international.jpg

In my determination to bring you information about the thousands of entrepreneurial opportunities that exist, I have the fun experience of talking to many different people.

A few weeks ago, someone left a comment on my blog post about concierge medicine that intrigued me. She wrote:

I welcome entrepreneurial MDs to consider cooperating with specialists abroad. As an international medical concierge, working in both the US and Thailand, I am witness to a global paradigm shift in delivery of medical care - to Americans who willingly travel for specialized procedures, and other world citizens.

The movement towards developing American entrepreneurial MDs is only a small part of this global change. I urge the entrepreneurial or concierge doctor to consider care beyond borders for their patients. This will truly be caring concierge MD service. 

The author of the comment is Julie Munro, CEO of Cosmetic Surgery Travel and the newer InterMedGlobal, and I had the pleasure of connecting by phone with her in Bangkok last night.

Julie shared briefly with me her journey from former nurse's aide as a youngster, to spouse of a foreign correspondent posted to several Asian countries over many years, and entrepreneur who has been interested in healthcare for many years. Several years ago, she became aware of the emerging interest in "medical tourism" (variously called "international medicine" and "global medical care") as a way to counter the exorbitant costs of many of the surgical procedures faced here in the USA by the 61 million under- and uninsured.

Being very knowledgeable about the local cultures and services, Julie made it her business, literally, to become a true Medical Concierge (picture that helpful person near the check-in desk at your favorite resort) - a facilitator connecting foreigners, mainly from the US, to the best medical services in Thailand and Singapore and helping negotiate package prices for a number of expensive medical procedures. She also has an arrangement with travel agencies, who can put together the travel package (including the post-op vacation if you're up to it!!)

The surge in interest in medical tourism has not been without its controversy! With concerns ranging from quality, lack of safety, language and cultural barriers, lack of recourse through litigation in the event of a bad outcome, inadequate post-op follow up on return to the US etc., opponents are making themselves heard. Like most new ideas, there are pros and cons.

However, several forces are converging to make medical tourism a likely future fixture in the healthcare landscape.

Third-party payer interest. According to Julie Munro, companies such as AIG, Blue Cross and United Group Programs are looking into creating plans that reimburse for care in foreign countries and this is borne out by the press

International accreditation by Joint Commission International is on the rise. Applying US standards of accreditation for healthcare facilities to international hospitals, JCI is being kept busy by the many foreign institutions that have applied for accreditation.

The US biggies such as Johns Hopkins and Harvard are joining in.

Companies are beginning to take notice as a way to manage costs that are spiralling out of control.

Organizations are emerging to provide oversight. Be they "concierge companies" like Julie's InterMedGlobal or the California-based PlanetHospital or true watch-dog non-profits such as HealthCare Trip, an small industry of enterprising entrepreneurs is emerging to shepherd these new ventures as part of the solution to our healthcare crisis.

The Baby Boomers' healthcare needs.

I learned from Julie that many of the big-name surgeons and physicians in countries such as Thailand, Singapore and India have received not only a medical education modeled directly on the US or British medical school systems, but also extensive post-grad fellowship training at the finest US institutions. They are respected by their academic counterparts in this country and are very gracious about referring their "foreign" US patients back to their esteemed US counterparts, should that be necessary.

There is a real opportunity for entrepreneurially- and service-minded physicians to learn more about this growing trend, to understand what is at stake and to educate themselves about the global array of services available for their patients.

And for the doc who loves to travel and absorb him- or herself in a local culture while figuring out how to navigate the country's healthcare system on behalf of patients, this might just be your perfect next business opportunity!

What are your thoughts?

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Reader Comments (6)

I've heard mixed reviews of medical tourism. Is plastic surgery really safe in Thailand? Are Indian doctors qualified?
Does medical tourism really offer affordable health care options for those who lack insurance? Or is it just a marketing gimmick for baby boomers?
___________________
http://www.healism.com
June 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHealism
Like anything new, there are bound to be mixed reviews. From the little I know, many of the foreign doctors are US-trained through fellowships etc. One standard that many of the international hospitals are holding themselves to is to receive accreditation status from JCI (Joint Commission International) - the arm of JCAHO that monitors and accredits international hospitals.

I guess time and experience will tell.

It's a little ironic that, with the dollar at present being so cheap relative to many other currencies, foreigners are electing to come to the US for some of their plastic procedures - it's turning out cheaper for a European to get a top grade plastic surgeon in the US than their fee-for-service private practice surgeon somewhere in Europe.
July 12, 2008 | Registered CommenterPhilippa Kennealy
With medical concierge adoption we suggest patients' rights to purchase more time and attention from their physicians, the physicians' moral and ethical obligation to treat all patients, and the potential emergence of a two-tiered, and some say multi-tiered health care system .
September 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPersonal Concierge
There is a website http://www.conciergemedicineinternational.com Unlike traditional Concierge Medicine, with CMI you will have 24/7 access to your own board-certified internist and board-certified emergency room physician. Imagine, getting sick while traveling abroad and having your own ER doctor calling the shots…acting as your liaison, transporting you via medical jet, if necessary, to the best medical specialists in the U.S.
July 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNemmon
The address of one of the posts is wrong, I did a google search and I came up with this site....
http://conciergemedicineinternational.com/how-it-works/ it looks legit and seems to be ran by two well known doctors
August 26, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterhealth1st
My company already performs a limited medical + dental concierge service for would-be retirees who want a full workup when they move to Thailand.

We use Chiang Mai University's new testing and imaging center (new German equipment, very space age).

Every client who's been through it has raved about it, the staff, and the doctors and dentists.

We're thinking of adding a more focused concierge service – staffed by a Thai nurse – exclusively for medical visitors. Our experience with medical tourism has been altogether positive thus far.
February 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGodfree Roberts

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