Ensuring Patient Safety: Making Sure Medical Tourism Puts Its Money Where Its Mouth Is

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The medical tourism industry prides itself on the better quality of care found in hospitals in medical tourism destinations, but questions about just how good American hospitals are remain.

Insurance Thought Leadership.com published an article today called “The Most Dangerous Place In The World”, written by Leah Binder, President & CEO of The Leapfrog Group (Leapfrog), a national organization based in Washington, DC, representing employer purchasers of health care and calling for improvements in the safety and quality of the nation’s hospitals.

Her article describes the hospital stay of the father of a Harvard professor Ms. Binder knows in an American hospital that was anything but routine.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the article, and should give the medical tourism industry some solace, and some reason to make sure that their hospitals are better than those in the US:

    • American hospitals are “the most dangerous place in the world.”
    • The safety problem is an open secret among people in the health care industry. The statistics are staggering. Each year, one in four people admitted to a hospital suffer some form of harm, and more than 500 patients per day die.
    • We must have a better approach for tracking harm in the hospital, hospitals need to feel the financial consequences of providing unsafe care, and accountability for patient safety must be created.
    • Last year, The Leapfrog Group initiated an effort to rate the safety of 2,600 hospitals. The Hospital Safety Score is available to the public for free on a website and as an app.
    • A recent AARP Magazine article notes features used in safer hospitals that all of us should look for in our own hospital.

If the medical tourism industry is to remain viable and grow larger around the world, it is imperative that hospital administrators, patient advocates, providers, medical tourism facilitators, ministries of Health and other relevant government entities insist on not only reaching quality measures in the US, but beating them, and beating them by an overwhelming margin that makes medical tourism a sound alternative, not only for individual  or group health insurance patients, but for patients injured on the job and covered under workers’ compensation.

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4 thoughts on “Ensuring Patient Safety: Making Sure Medical Tourism Puts Its Money Where Its Mouth Is

  1. Suzanne Salimbene

    I couldn’t agree more! However, one thing that most US hospitals does provide, that many medical tourism destinations ignore is the right to both language access and culturally appropriate care. They still have a ways to go, but one of the important necessities of quality care is the ability for patients and their caregivers to communicate freely–either through trained medical interpreters or certified bilingual physicians and nurses. Patient information, forms and signage also need to be provided in the patient’s language and both administrators and caregivers need to gain a understanding of their patients’ cultures, health/illness/illness-prevention/cure beliefs as well as religious beliefs and taboos in order to provide satisfactory care. Most hospitals marketing to medical tourists today have both the technology and the medical expertise, but these language and cultural issues will, in the end, make the difference in industry success.

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    1. richardkrasner Post author

      Suzanne,

      One of the things I would hope that happens with medical tourism is that it is implemented into the US workers’ comp system, so as more workers here are from hispanic or Caribbean origin, the language and cultural barrier will come down if they opt for it, and if their employer and/or insurer go along with it.

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  2. Dr Ram Nath

    Alarming statistics about US healthcare system.How we know that destination country for MT would have not been inflicted with same malice? Any idea, Mr Richard. Thought provoking indeed.

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