Category Archives: Medical Travel

An Open Letter to the Medical Tourism Industry

Dear Medical Tourism Industry,

I am writing you all to address some issues I am having with the industry on the occasion of my having past my five year anniversary writing this blog, and nearing another milestone, that of publishing 400 articles. At present, I am at 396.

For the past few weeks, I have noticed on the social media site, LinkedIn that some of my connections in the industry have been attending conferences around the world, and more recently, I have replied that I wished I was there and posted a recent post with the message to advertise my willingness to collaborate, or attend such conferences.

With the exception of one person this evening, not one person has responded positively, nor in the past five years has anyone other than one person invited me to speak at a conference, and that was three years ago in Mexico. The other two conferences I attended were here in Florida; one in Miami Beach, the other in Hollywood, Florida. The first in 2014, the second in 2012, and was the reason why I started writing my blog three days after it ended.

My intention then, as now, was to transition into a new career path, so that I could be employed and enjoy the things other people enjoy, and see the world before I am unable to. But In the past five years, while I have connected with practically all the major players in the industry, defended the industry in numerous posts, and even been critical of the industry at times; no one, not here in the US, nor anyone in Latin America or the Caribbean has invited me to a conference or a fam tour, nor to any other part of the world that is not part of some current conflict.

Recently, an American filmmaker had the premier of her film on medical travel on American television, on what we call the “Public Broadcasting System”. or PBS. I missed most of it, but was able to see two names in the credits that I recognized. One person I met in Miami Beach in 2014,  the other I am connected with on LinkedIn, but have never met. I tried to contact the filmmaker, but when she did not respond, I contacted my connection, who told me she was leery about responding because I had had an association with an organization we all know, but do not like that purports to represent the industry. He had to tell her that I am legitimate.

Folks, after five years of writing, and six, almost seven, of researching the industry, and being viewed on every major continent, you would think that many of you would know that I am honest, sincere, and definitely a legitimate advocate for medical travel.

Last week, I discovered that there was a conference in Dusseldorf, Germany, and today, I learned that one of my other connections, who I did meet in Reynosa in 2014. was invited to a conference in China. What does it take to be taken seriously and given the respect and courtesy of being invited to attend these functions after all this time?

I began my work in 2011. This coming March will be seven years since I wrote my White Paper. The paper is on my blog. My articles, even those covering Workers’ Comp and Health Care have not generated many views on a daily basis, save for a few here and there. I admit, they all cannot be prize winners, but at least I am persistent. Yet, I am not making headway with the industry, nor am I getting any compensation for writing,

I don’t want to sound like I am complaining, but I feel that after all this time, it is wrong for me to be ignored. I have committed long hours of my time and my life to this industry, even as my health over the summer was an issue. I am not out of the woods yet, but I am doing ok, and with the proper treatment, and eventual surgery, I should be healthy in the future, and can travel until such time, as long as I have more than two weeks notice.

In the beginning of my blog writing, I added a section where I asked readers to tell me where they are from and who they were. No one responded, so I stopped the practice. I still would like to hear from you, but after reading this letter, I hope you will do more than just dropping me a note.

I am waiting to meet you and to participate in future conferences.

Sincerely,

Richard Krasner, MA, MHA

Map shows countries to date where my blog has been viewed.

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Medical Travel/Health Care Thought Leader Seeks Opportunities

Medical Travel/Health Care Thought Leader and Blogger, seeks opportunities to speak, write, and collaborate on projects to bring about greater participation of patients to global medical travel facilities.

Experience:

Over five years experience creating, maintaining, and analyzing current issues in Medical Travel, Health Care, and other topics.

Over six years research into the Medical Travel industry.

Promoted the implementation of medical travel into Workers’ Compensation insurance industry.

Analyzed the cost of healthcare and the options of alternative treatments abroad.

Presented White Paper to Medical Travel conference in Mexico in Nov. 2014.

Interested in working remotely, willing to travel, willing to write and speak at conferences, has valid US passport.

Resume can be found here.

Ashley Furniture and Medical Travel, part 2

As promised last month, here is the Spotlight article from Medical Travel Today.com about Ashley Furniture’s foray into Medical Travel for their employees.

In case you missed it, here is the link to part 1 of the article.

Foreign Patients Get Liver Transplants in US Hospitals First

ProPublica, those lovely folks who published several articles some time back on workers’ comp, are at it again.

This time, they are focusing their ire on how foreign patients are getting liver transplants at some US hospitals ahead of Americans waiting for such transplants.

The story, published yesterday, was co-published with a local Fox station in New Orleans.

From 2013 to 2016, New York-Presbyterian Hospital gave 20 livers to foreign nationals who came to the US solely for a transplant, essentially exporting the organs and removing them from the pool of available livers to New Yorkers.

Dr. Herbert Pardes (I was familiar with his name from living in NY), wrote that, “Patients in equal need of a liver transplant should not have to wait and suffer differently because of the U.S. state where they reside.”

Dr, Pardes was the former chief executive, and is now the executive vice president of the board at New York-Presbyterian.

Yet, according to the story, Dr. Pardes left out NY-P’s contribution to the shortage, as stated above from 2013 to 2016.

These 20 livers represent 5.2 percent of the hospital’s liver transplants during that time, which was one of the highest ratios in the country.

ProPublica reported that unknown to the public, or to sick patients and their families, organs donated domestically are sometimes given to patients flying in from other countries, who often pay a premium. Some hospitals even seek them out.

A company from Saudi Arabia said it signed an agreement with Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans in 2015.

The practice is legal, according to the story, and foreign nationals must wait their turn in the same way as domestic patients. The transplant centers justify this on medical and humanitarian grounds, but at a time when we have an Administration touting “America First”, this may run counter to the national mood.

The  director of the transplant institute at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, Dr. Sander Florman, said he struggles with “in essence, selling the organs we do have to foreign nationals with bushels of money.”

Between 2013 and 2016, 252 foreigners came to the US purely to receive livers at American hospitals. In 2016, the most recent year for which there is data, the majority of foreign recipients were from countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Israel and the UAE. Another 100 foreigners staying in the US as non-residents also received livers.

At the same time, more than 14,000 people, nearly all Americans, are waiting for livers, a figure that has remained very high for decades, they report. By comparison, fewer than 8,000 liver transplants were performed last year in the US, an all-time high. National median wait time is more than 14 months, and in NY, the time is longer.

In 2016. more than 2.600 patients were removed from waiting lists nationally, either because they died or were too sick to receive a liver transplant.

All this is happening at a time when the party in power is seeking to take health care away from those who recently received care for the first time in a long time from the ACA, and at a time when the medical travel industry is focused not on transplant surgeries, but on boutique treatments and surgeries for wealthy or upper middle class Americans to go abroad for bariatric, plastic or reconstructive surgery, knee surgery, dental care, etc.

And yet, when the very idea of medical travel is broached in the medical community, it is disparaged and discouraged by physicians and others as unsafe, impractical, and not worth the effort, Obviously, it is well worth the effort on the part of foreign patients to come here and take organs meant for Americans, so why not allow Americans to take their organs?

Is it because the hospitals that supply these organs to foreign patients are making huge sums of money, and the poor schnook American with liver disease (or kidney disease, as in the case of yours truly) must die so that an American hospital can improve its bottom line?

It is high time to cut the crap and promote medical travel the right way and for the right reasons, not only for those who can afford it, but those who need transplants and can’t get them here.

That is the true nature of the globalization of healthcare…a two-way street.

 

Time For Medical Tourism Industry to Clean Up Its Act

An article in Arizona Central (see link below) highlights the problem with weight-loss surgery in Mexico.

https://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/health/2017/11/16/mexico-gastric-sleeve-weight-loss-surgery-deaths-arizona-medical-tourism-risks/576309001/

This isn’t the first article on this subject, and won’t be the last, but the industry must clean up its act, stop patting yourselves on the back at all these fancy conferences around the world, come together to lay down guidelines and industry-driven protocols and standards of care and legal protections, and lastly, get rid of the crooks (you know who they and you are), charlatans, con men, and carnival barkers who promote medical travel, and give it a black eye.

Naturally, there are risks to any surgery, no matter where it occurs, but if medical travel is to be marketed as less costly, with better outcomes, the quacks and thieves must be removed from the industry.

Stop dissing each other, start cooperating with each other, and cut back on the conferences. Nobody of any real importance to the growth of the industry attends; only those who talk a great deal or are promoting their own businesses.

Here is a video that goes along with the article.

https://uw-media.azcentral.com/video/embed/106607688?placement=embed

 

 

Ashley Furniture and Medical Travel, part 1

From the One Hand Washes the Other department comes the following Spotlight article from Medical Travel Today.com.

Ashley Furniture, based in Wisconsin, is one of the largest manufacturers of home furnishings in the world.

I met Rajesh Rao in 2014 when I attended the Costa Rican Medical Travel Summit in Miami Beach. Rajesh’s company was also instrumental in convincing another furniture manufacturer, HSM in North Carolina, to first send patients to India, then to Costa Rica for medical care. I have written about this in previous posts.

This article is part one, and part two will run next month.

The Fork in the Road in Medical Travel

Returning to the main theme of this blog, I came across the following insightful article by Ruben Toral last week that posed the question, “Is Medical Tourism Dying a Slow Death?”

As someone who has been interested in opportunities in Medical Travel for some time, and  disappointed in not being able to elicit interest in my idea for Medical Travel, I was interested in seeing what Ruben had to say, and to see if it measured up to my views of the industry, as I know it.

According to Ruben, the industry exhibits the traits of a typical product/business cycle, whereby the first and fast movers establish leadership by developing and commercializing the concept, then late adopters pile in to get in on the action.

He goes on to decry the same speakers at every medical tourism event around the world talking about the same things, which is enough to hit the snooze button and go back to sleep.

He also laments the lack of innovation, and says that key players are just trying to manage the slow growth rather than investing in the next wave.

VC investors, Ruben says, talk of getting burned on medical tourism investments that simply cannot scale like other businesses, because, as they quickly learn, healthcare is a different animal than retail and you burn through a lot of cash fast trying to buy eyeballs and audience.

And investment analysts ask the same question after pouring through hospital financial reports and see how hospitals are managing and protecting profit margins: “Where’s the growth?” And even large meeting and events companies are not “flogging medical tourism” because attendance and interest is way down.

So, is this the beginning of the end or the inflection point for medical tourism?, Ruben asks. For his part, he does not know, but if it is not the beginning of the end, or an inflection point, it is most certainly a fork in the road.

Where it goes from here is as good a guess as mine and Ruben’s, but it is up to those who are serious and dedicated to growing the industry to regroup and start again to build interest and enthusiasm for medical travel, and to address some of the glaring issues facing the industry.

But that won’t happen until there are changes within and without the industry…in technology and in strategy.