Tag Archives: Blogging

Health Care Writer Resume

Richard Krasner, MA, MHA
7151 Summer Tree Drive
Boynton Beach, FL  33437
561-738-0458
561-603-1685, cell
richard_krasner@hotmail.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/richardkrasner
Skype: richardkrasner
Blog: https://richardkrasner.wordpress.com

Objective

Independent writer/blogger with over four years blogging experience with issues in Health Care and Workers’ Compensation, seeks correspondent, journalist, contributor position in Health Care, Health Care Policy, International Health Care, or Public Health.

Education

MHA, Health Administration, Florida Atlantic University, 2011

Relevant Courses:

Intro. to US Health Care Systems
Org. Behavior in Healthcare
Health Care Mgmt. (elective) Topic: Healthcare Quality
Health Law
Health Policy
Healthcare Finance
Healthcare Internship
Planning & Mktg. in Healthcare
The 2010 Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (elective)
Res. Methods for Healthcare Mgmt.

Papers:

EnergySmart Hospitals: A Comparative Review
Banning Soda under the SNAP Program: A Policy Review
Legal Barriers to Implementing Int’l Providers into Medical Provider Networks for WC
PPACA: The End of Workers’ Compensation?
Medical Management Internship Paper

M.A., History, New York University, 1981
Concentration: American History

B.A., Liberal Arts, SUNY Brockport, Brockport, NY, 1979
Concentrations: Political Science, History, Sociology/Afro-American Studies

Professional Experience

Editor-in-Chief/Content Writer, Transforming Workers’ Compensation blog, Boynton Beach, FL                  2012 – Present
Published over 300 articles covering current issues in Workers’ Compensation, Healthcare,
and to promote the implementation of medical travel into Workers’ Compensation.

Risk Management Consulting Services, Boynton Beach, FL                                                                                  2002 – 2010
Multiple consulting projects:
Strategic Outsourcing, Inc., Charlotte, NC
Environamics, Inc., Charlotte, NC
Fredrick C. Smith Clinic, Marion, OH
Bonitz, Inc., Charlotte, NC

Aon Risk Services of TX, Inc., Houston, TX                                                                              2001 – 2002
Sr. Specialist/Data Mgmt.

Consultant                                                                                                                               1995 – 2001
Various assignments, Dallas, TX
Data Analyst, Stirling Cooke, Dallas, TX
BPO Compliance Analyst, PMSC, Sarasota, FL
Data Services Consultant, NCCI, Inc., Boca Raton, FL
Underwriting Data Analyst, Allstate, Boca Raton, FL

Dear Reader, con’t.

Last month, I told you that I was planning to shut down my blog because of my acceptance of a new position.

Unfortunately, some things were not meant to be, and while I was waiting until the new year to end the blog, I have decided to reverse course and keep it up and running, so those of you who have enjoyed my writing will have more to enjoy, I hope.

This still leaves me back where I was in October when I accepted the position, so if any of you have something in mind, let me know.

I am open to consulting with anyone. Resume furnished upon request.

Dear Reader

By now, many of you may be wondering why I have not been doing much writing of late. The reason for my absence from the blogosphere is that one month ago, I was offered and accepted a position with a software company here in South Florida, that works in the Insurance industry. I waited this long to tell you because I wanted certain family members to know first.

Many years ago, before moving to Florida from New York, I worked for a small, retail insurance brokerage firm on New York’s Long Island that handled what is called a “wrap-up” insurance program for a very large public agency in the metropolitan area, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

I administered the claims reported to our office by contractors and subcontractors working on construction and non-construction contracts with the Port Authority. My new employer sells software that manages the administration portion of construction wrap-up programs, also known as Owner Controlled Insurance Programs (OCIP) or Contractor Controlled Insurance Programs (CCIP).

For the past month, and for the foreseeable future, I am in training, as their system is very complex, and the administration side of the business is new to me. Eventually, I will be going out on business trips to train clients, but that is a few months from now.

Many of you probably did not know that while I was writing my blog, I was unemployed. I kept my personal situation quiet because at the same time, I was looking for work, and hoping that my idea for medical travel and workers’ comp would lead me into another direction.

Reasons that has to do with issues I have raised in the past, from the medical travel industry and the workers’ compensation industry, have frustrated my efforts to get this blog noticed. I have also been trying to get FutureComp Consulting up and running, as well as providing me with an income.

Since the death of my father, and the placement of my mother into a nursing home for her dementia, I have been living hand to mouth, with eventual homelessness staring me in the face, as well as mounting debt my father assured me would be taken care of. While I am very grateful and appreciative of all the attention my blog has gotten from around the world these past four years, not being able to make a dime from this activity has forced me to make this decision.

Therefore, I have decided to end my blog, shut down FutureComp Consulting, and focus on the job at hand.

But before I do, I want to address both industries on where you are failing your markets, your customers, and what the recent US election means for both industries moving forward.

First, the medical tourism industry. Many of the people I have met are good people, but there are a few rotten apples in the barrel, and we know who they are. They are a pair of lawyers based here in Florida who proport to represent the industry to the world, but only represent themselves and their cronies.

Their sham conferences and certifications are part of the reason this industry has a black eye. They are nothing more than a means to make money for the organizers and not to influence decision making that will improve and expand the industry.

The industry’s focus on the boutique medical treatments, legitimate or not, plastic and reconstructive surgery, breast surgery, dentistry, and so on, which only a few well-off people can afford to access, is one reason why medical travel for the middle and working classes is overlooked.

I am rather disappointed that with so many viewers around the world these past four years, none of you ever reached out to me offering assistance for my idea, to have me come visit your countries (all expenses paid, naturally), etc. To quote a friend of ours, “WHAT AM I, CHOPPED LIVER?”

I have laid out my criticisms in previous posts, so you are welcome to read them before the site is shut down permanently.

Next, the workers’ compensation industry, that I have given much of my life and effort in, has from nearly the beginning, ignored me, insulted me, and dismissed me because I did not have an executive title after my name.

Why did I get this treatment? Because there are too many stakeholders, too many dinosaurs, and too many wise guys who think they know everything, and no one like me could ever have a better idea, so why listen to him, Mr. R. Wilson, the workers’ comp blogosphere’s answer to Rush Limbaugh. Attack anyone and any idea you don’t agree with or like, all the while telling your readers you don’t know the person you viciously attacked and never apologized to, or gave the time of day to.

Also, the industry is just too conservative to grasp the changes that the global economy is having on all industries, and that is because the laws, rules, and statutes that govern workers’ comp are nearly one hundred years old, and were written for a horse and buggy world, not a world of instant communication and supersonic and even suborbital flight, that Richard Branson and the US Air Force are experimenting with that will cut travel time around the world, bringing us closer together.

Third, they have lost sight of who the industry serves. It does not serve the employers, the lawyers, the physicians, the rehab centers, the pain management centers, the bill reviewers and the pharmacy benefit managers, et al. It is supposed to serve the man or woman who gets hurt on the job, and is not a burden to be disposed of ASAP.

Here too, I have listed my objections to the ways of the industry, and while there are many people trying to correct these problems, there are many others who are taking advantage of this broken system for their own personal gain, or ideological biases. Opt-out is one example of this. David DePaolo, who was tragically lost, and Joe Paduda are two of the good guys.

The workers’ comp system needs to be opened to new ideas, from new people, and if you don’t want federal intervention, you better get organized now nationwide to lobby every state legislature to change the laws and regs to open it up. Otherwise, as some have suggested, workers’ comp will disappear.

Finally, what does last week’s disastrous US election mean for medical travel and for workers’ comp. The incoming, neo-fascist administration of a reality TV show host, whose top advisor is an avid racist and anti-Semite, will no doubt go after NAFTA, CAFTA, and the TTP, and his promise to build a wall on the Mexican border, to register Muslims, and his appeal to xenophobic nationalism, will mean that it will be harder to get regular Americans to travel abroad for medical care, which will certainly slow the growth of the industry and may even increase domestic medical travel, but if that man guts the ACA, many people will lose what health care coverage they recently obtained under the plan.

As far as workers’ comp is concerned, that all depends on what happens with the ACA. If it is repealed and replaced with nothing, look for case shifting back to health care from work comp.

While I was deciding to write this article, I thought I might ask for your opinion on whether I should end writing and shut down the blog. This will give you a chance to read past posts, and to be fair to you, my loyal readers. Let me know your thoughts.

If not, it has been a real pleasure, even if it has not been financially rewarding, or has helped in my career.

Thank you and goodbye.

SPOTLIGHT Interview on Medical Travel Today.com

The following interview was published this morning on Medical Travel Today.com. They have published several of my articles in the past, as well as a prior interview in 2013.

Medical Travel Today (MTT): It’s been awhile since Medical Travel Today has checked in with you. Remind our readers of your position in the medical travel industry, as well as what you have been involved with since we last chatted in 2013.

Richard Krasner (RK): I am the blogger-in-chief of the Transforming Workers’ Comp blog, as well as the CEO and principal consultant of FutureComp Consulting – an as yet not official company dedicated to bringing the medical travel industry into the workers’ comp industry.

Since 2013, I have continued my blogging, and in November 2014, I spoke at the 5th Mexico Health & Wellness Travel Show in Reynosa, Mexico. I was invited to speak again at the 6th Mexico Health & Wellness Travel Show in December, in Puerto Vallarta.

MTT: Can you give the readers some background on FutureComp Consulting and its goals?

RK: I came up with the name of the company because I truly believed that the future of workers’ compensation in the U.S. has to be more globally focused, especially since the workforce in the U.S. is increasingly Latino and Asian, as has been reported by those who follow the demographic makeup of the U.S. population as a whole.

The goal of FutureComp Consulting is to transform the workers’ compensation industry by freeing employers and injured workers from the high cost of surgery for work-related injuries common to workers’ compensation claims, such as back, hip, knee, shoulder, and carpal tunnel.

MTT: Do you work directly with the patient, employer and/or both?

RK: As FutureComp Consulting is at the very early stage as a startup company, there are no patients or employers that I am working with, however, there is one health plan that has expressed an interest to expand what their members’ employees are already doing in northern Mexico with regard to general healthcare, and not workers’ comp.

My vision for the company would involve employers and insurance companies seeking to lower the cost of surgeries for work-related injuries, with the injured workers agreeing to go out of the country when the option is presented to them. They would not be under any obligation or pressure to go abroad for medical care, and should they decline to do so, they would be free to get treated here in the U.S., as if the option was never offered. I think that with the large and growing Hispanic workforce in the U.S., that if presented correctly, they would choose to go to their home country, or similar country for surgery. This would help them overcome any language or cultural barriers, and assure their friends and relatives in that country that they are getting the best care possible, in the best facility their country has to offer. For non-Latino workers, it would be a chance to see another region of the world, and to learn about other cultures. Naturally, in both cases, spouses and even children, would be allowed to travel with them to make the worker feel more comfortable with going abroad.

MTT: Will FutureComp Consulting help connect medical travel patients to specific locations?

RK: I would like to see injured workers travel to Latin America and the Caribbean, because the travel time from the U.S. mainland would be less than four hours, and less of a strain on their injury and recovery from surgery.

MTT:Medical travel provides patients with the opportunity for high-quality, cost-effective healthcare, so in 2015, why do you think there is still pushback?

RK: For one, I think because of media reports about the negative outcomes and serious injuries that have occurred, even a few deaths, here and there. Second, I think too many Americans are under the impression that medical care in other countries outside of North America and Western Europe is so-called “third-world medicine,” and therefore not as good as medical care at home. Third, the concept of “American exceptionalism,” of which I have written about in the past, is too strong in the mindset of most Americans, especially those who have never traveled abroad or to those regions where medical travel is currently offered. I have written about the issue of “third-world medicine” as well, and one domestic critic of mine insists that I want to send patients to Bangladesh or some other country that does not have first-world medical care, as they would define it. I don’t want to disparage Bangladesh or any other country, but that is the perception, and that is why there is pushback, at least in terms of what I am trying to do.

The workers’ comp industry is too conservative, and too stuck in their ways to look outside the box and outside the border of the U.S. to find solutions to the problems plaguing workers’ comp. In other words, they have not caught on that the world, healthcare and workers’ comp are all globalizing.

MTT: Where do you see the future of healthcare headed, domestic and international?

RK: As far as workers’ comp is concerned, I think that the future of medical care is uncertain, because there are forces both internal and external that are challenging the original intent of the system. International medical travel for workers’ comp is years away in much the same way that sub-orbital, commercial flights between one and four hours travel time is — something that may happen by mid-century.

However, domestic medical travel in workers’ comp is occurring due to differences in medical and surgery costs from state to state.

With regard to general healthcare, the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has not yet been felt as either hurting or helping medical travel, because the timeframe is too short at this point. Not enough information about the impact of the law has been developed, although there are some conflicting opinions about aspects of the law, which I have recently written about in regard to Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).

I am not sure if the ACA is driving some people to look abroad, but those who are now covered, and who were not covered before, are more likely than not to stay home, unless it gets too expensive or they lose it because opposition politicians get their way.

MTT: At this point, is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

RK: Yes, there is. The end of October 2015 will mark three years since I began writing my blog, and one of the biggest disappointments I have encountered has been the number of individuals and organizations that are not behaving in an ethical or professional manner. This has been brought to my attention by several individuals I have had contact with over the past three years. I believe that it is time for this behavior to stop. We must treat each other ethically and professionally. Standards should be established for how to conduct business with each other, between our partners, and with the patients themselves, as well as for how to practice medicine, and relate to foreign patients in terms of learning to speak their language, and providing meals at the proper time and in accordance with their cultural norms, etc. We must also develop organizations to bring the industry together under common laws and procedures for handling problems.

Lastly, I think there is far too much emphasis on conferences and congresses, and not enough on actually going out into the market and getting the business, instead of bringing providers and facilitators together. Also, the industry must, as I said in Reynosa, go after the workers’ comp market; it will not come to you. You must go beyond cosmetic and plastic/reconstructive surgery, dentistry, spas, wellness programs, etc., and market your services for the masses, and not just the rich and affluent. Healthcare should know no class distinctions.

I have been unable to get traction from both the workers’ comp industry and the medical travel industry, but I am willing to partner with anyone who sees what I am trying to do, and wants to be a part of it. I hope this interview will allow me to do so.

The entire interview can be seen here.

200 Followers!!!!!

A big thank you to all of you who follow me. This is a good milestone to have achieved. I hope you continue to follow my blog and feel free to comment anytime.

The Second Time Around

Today, October 29th, marks my second anniversary writing the Transforming Workers’ Comp blog, and as I wrote in my first blog post, What I Learned at the 5th World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress, and Why It Matters to the Workers’ Compensation Industry, I began the blog three days after returning from the MTA Congress in Hollywood, Florida.

The first anniversary was a milestone in that I actually was able to sustain my writing for an entire year, and gained enough support that my articles appeared in online medical tourism magazines and blogs. But this year’s anniversary is even more special, because next week I will be in Reynosa, Mexico, speaking at the 5th Mexico Medical Tourism and Wellness Business Summit.

At this year’s summit, I will be meeting people I have connected with through my writing and through LinkedIn who are in the medical tourism industry and who are business leaders here in the US and in other countries in the Western Hemisphere.

It is my hope that during the three days of the summit, I will find time to write a short piece about the day’s events, but if I am not able to do so (well, it is a mini-vacation, after all,J), then I will certainly do so once I return, as I did two years ago, and earlier this year after the Miami Beach event.

My topic, which I will be presenting on Friday morning, November 7th, is about the Barriers, Obstacles, Opportunities and Pitfalls of Implementing Medical Tourism into Workers’ Compensation. It is based on my original White Paper and various blog articles that I have written over the past two years.

Those of you who have criticized my idea in the past as ridiculous and a “non-starter” have failed to understand that globalization cannot and will not be stopped by any one industry, including the workers’ compensation medico-legal behemoth.

The fact that I was invited to speak proves that someone believes my idea has merit and is worth paying for both my airfare and hotel. Maybe in your narrow-minded view of the world it doesn’t, because doctors, lawyers, and service providers have placed the workers’ comp system in a padded cell.

It does as far as the medical tourism/medical travel community will learn about next week. As Schopenhauer wrote, “Every man takes the limits of his field of vision for the limits of the world.”

How many of you workers’ comp professionals have seen claimants treated by doctors, both in private practice and in hospitals who are foreign-born? Doesn’t that tell you something about where health care has been for several years, and where it is going? Of course it does. It even is happening in the UK, as one of my UK medical tourism connections has written about last week.

It is a sign that medical care is not limited to one part of the world, one hegemonic power in the world, and to one culture. As doctors and nurses come here to work, so too do our medical students go abroad to learn medicine when they get turned down by American medical schools.

Why not our workers? Because some judge says so, or some lawyer would object because he can’t collect a hefty fee? Or is it because our politicians are so jaded that they only know one thing: screw the workers anyway they can.

I take it as a badge of honor that business professionals will hear what I have been writing about, even though those in the workers’ comp industry bury their heads in the sand, shut their ears, eyes and minds to new ideas, no matter how “out of the box” they seem. You see, that is the real reason workers’ comp today is failing to address the problems injured workers face. The industry keeps insisting on doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results, and wasting time, money and resources on a broken system.

They insist that state laws, regulations and rules prohibit medical travel, but some states do allow it, as I mentioned in my paper and articles. Even a WC Deputy Judge said that medical tourism is here to stay, and while he referred to domestic travel, cross-border workers’ comp is already occurring in CA, and AZ amended their work comp laws to allow a claimant to collect benefits in AZ and Mexico, and a unanimous court ruled on behalf of that claimant.

Given these facts, medical travel to Mexico and other countries in the region for surgical procedures under worker’ comp cannot be too far off. What is really going on, is some high-level executives and consultants who get paid from keeping things the same, refuse to allow new ideas to enter the system, thus bringing on hardship, pain and misery for injured workers, while they and their clients get rich.

And the industry is now dealing with some bad actors who are screwing and maiming legitimately injured workers because the system is bought and paid for by the very entrenched interest groups that profit from maiming and harming workers who have already been injured. In law that is called “double jeopardy”, and no, Alex Trebek is not going to double your winnings.

So the next time I write, it will either be in Reynosa, or back home after my trip. Until then, muchas gracias por seguir conmigo estos últimos dos años, y espero que siga haciéndolo en los próximos años.

To paraphrase the most interesting man in the world, “Stay open-minded, my friends.”

What A Long Strange Year It’s Been – My Year as a Medical Tourism Blogger

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Introduction

Today marks one year that I began my blog on medical tourism and its implementation into workers’ compensation.  From the beginning, I did not have any idea if my blog would be successful, or if it would be a complete failure. One year in, with over 8,000 views, and less than 100 followers, the jury is still out, so it remains to be seen where the blog goes in the next year.

Yet, just this month, on October 7th, I had 233 views (highest ever) and 205 visitors. But one thing is certain; I have had a very interesting time writing it, and have made some wonderful connections both in the medical tourism industry and out of the industry, from all over the world. But I have also had some rather disappointing experiences as well. This post then is a look back and maybe a look forward to another year of blogging, hopefully more rewarding, both career-wise and financially than this year coming to a close has been.

Why I started the Blog

I started the blog for three reasons: One, I had just attended the MTA Congress in Hollywood, Florida three days earlier, after they had published my White Paper on their website. The White Paper was too long for their online magazine, so they asked me if I would not mind it if they published as a White Paper. When I said yes, they eventually invited me to come to the Congress free of charge, for which I was very grateful, since I was unable to spend that much money to participate. After the Congress was over, I had learned from a few industry sources and two legal experts, that the MTA copyrighted my paper without my written permission, so I had one of the lawyers find me a template so that we could use to send them a letter asking them to either remove the copyright, and remove the Editor-In-Chief’s name from it, or remove it altogether and let me know in writing. They did remove the paper, but I had to find out for myself when I went to their website.

The second reason I started the blog was because of my MHA degree (Masters in Health Administration) which I received a year earlier, and for which I wrote the term paper that was the basis of the much longer White Paper. My Health Law class required a paper on a legal topic in Health Care, and since I had neither a legal background, nor a health care background, I went out to social media to find a topic. The first topic suggested to me did not yield much information and was not a good research subject, so again I went out to social media, and a lawyer in CA gave me the idea to write about the legal barriers to implementing international medical tourism into workers’ compensation. She helped with getting legal cases and some of the editing of the original paper, as well as some of the work expanding it into the larger White Paper. I was unsuccessful in getting any legal journals to publish it, so that is when I turned to the MTA.

The third and most important reason why I began my blog was to explore new avenues of employment in either medical tourism or in workers’ comp, or even health care. I did this because I felt my workers’ compensation and insurance experience, which consists of work in Auto No-Fault, Risk Management and Insurance Data Processing with regard to claims, brokerage and statistical reporting of workers’ compensation claims and policy data, would be valuable to organizations in those industries. Unfortunately, due to the economic downturn and jobless recovery, many companies have curtailed their hiring, and many are just filling jobs that require a finite set of skills and background that I do not possess. I have made connections both before my degree and after with executives in many companies, and in many parts of the US, but have gotten little or no response to my inquiries.

My career has been somewhat broad and varied, depending on the nature of jobs available at the time, but they have given me an insight into the world of insurance in general, and the world of workers’ compensation in particular, so after attending the Congress, and meeting different people from other countries, and hearing one company’s experience as a self-insured employer utilizing medical tourism for their employees on their health care plan, I thought that it might be possible to do the same for those employers who are self-insured for workers’ compensation, as well as those who purchase workers’ compensation insurance in the insurance market.

A Brief Review of Past Posts

My first post, on October 29, 2012 was a recap of what I learned at the Congress and what I thought about medical tourism as a viable alternative to high cost medical care in the US. The post, entitled, What I Learned at the 5th World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress, and Why It Matters to the Workers’ Compensation Industry, also discusses the three cases I cited in my paper which involved some form of medical tourism; either domestic medical tourism, or cross-border medical tourism,( i.e., Mexico), from CA and FL.

The third post I wrote was a shortened version of my White Paper, called Medical Tourism and Workers’ Compensation: What are the barriers? Here, I attempted to get the workers’ comp industry interested in the idea by giving them the highlights of my original paper. Almost immediately after I began blogging, my posts were picked up by other blogs and newsletters in the health care and medical tourism industries, and I am thankful for their faith in me as a blogger that they continue to do so.

As a further inducement to get some interest in the idea of implementing medical tourism into workers’ comp, I created a fictional case study about a self-insured employer who is self-insured for both health care and workers’ comp, but whose Risk Manager was unaware of how much money he could save if he followed what the Employee Benefits Manager was doing on the health care side with medical tourism. In the case study, A ‘Case Study’ in Implementing Medical Tourism into Workers’ Compensation, three workers sustained injuries while working at a job site and needed surgery that would have cost the company thousands of dollars. The Risk Manager told the Employee Benefits Manager about this, and learned that the company was sending its workers to countries in Central America for less expensive health care with better quality outcomes, and the Benefits Manager suggested he do the same with the injured workers.

The one topic that I have written the most about in the past year was about the impact of immigration reform on workers’ compensation, and subsequently, on medical tourism. The following posts were written because I came to believe that Latin America and the Caribbean was the most logical region of the world to pursue medical tourism, since it is so much closer to the mainland US and the workforce here is increasingly Latino and Caribbean.  These are the four posts:

The Stars Aligned: Mexico as a medical tourism destination for Mexican-born, US workers under Workers’ Compensation, Immigration Reform on the Horizon: What it means for Medical Tourism and Workers’ Compensation, Immigration and Workers’ Compensation: Round Two, Testimonial on Medical Tourism in Mexico.

The last post was supposed to be followed by even more testimonials, and may still be, but it will have to wait until after this one is posted. Finally, I decided that I should acquaint the workers’ comp industry with some of the medical tourism facilities that had booths at the MTA Congress, so I wrote the following post from literature I gathered during the last two days when the Exhibition Hall was open. No Back Alleys Here: Medical Tourism Hospitals, Clinics and Networks in Latin America and the Caribbean, simply listed the hospitals and clinics by country and listed the hospital’s websites, where available. It would be up to the reader, I felt to check them out.

What I have learned About Medical Tourism – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

My experience writing the blog has educated me about the medical tourism industry, even though I do not actually work in it at present. Perhaps being an outside observer gives me an honest and forthright perspective that many inside the industry don’t have, but in my email conversations with some of them, they are already aware of the nature of the beast, as it were, so here are my thoughts about the industry —the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (with apologies to Sergio Leone, but not to “Mr. Talks-to -empty-chairs”).

The Good

In the past year, I have met some very nice and dedicated people who want to provide patients with quality health care, at affordable prices, plus a little extra on the side. Whether it was at the MTA Congress last October where I met people from Mexico, Guatemala (Belgian, actually), Australia, Singapore, China, Canada, Finland and the US, or online through my blog or my LinkedIn profile, I know that the medical tourism industry has very good promoters and patient advocates.

Many of the online connections I have made are in India, which is the primary destination for medical tourism. But there have been other connections made all across the globe from Europe, the Middle East, East Asia, Africa, and some from Latin America and the Caribbean. This proves to me that medical tourism is a growing and dynamic industry that will continue to grow, provided that it attracts the same kind of people I have connected with over the past year. Yet, as we shall see below, there is a grey cloud and a dark cloud over the industry, which threatens its long-term sustainability and growth…the bad and the ugly sides of medical tourism.

The Bad

Any industry and any business in that industry must be able to not only justify its existence, but to prove its value and worth to the customer, and medical tourism is no exception. So, it has been disheartening to me that I have been unable to get exact cost figures for certain surgeries that are common to workers’ compensation from some medical tourism facilities in Latin America and the Caribbean, as I described in my post, If You Have to Ask…Fuggedaboutit!.

In that post, I said that transparency on costs was vital if the medical tourism industry wanted to pursue business in the American workers’ compensation industry, because employers, insurance companies, and third party administrators will want to know up front if this is really a less expensive alternative to high-cost surgery in the US. I even cited surgical costs from some countries in the region, and some costs from Asian countries that I originally cited in my White Paper. These last figures, I have been told by some people are not accurate and therefore, are only a guesstimate of the actual costs.

In addition, I have been told that figures on the number of Americans going abroad for care are inflated, often because they count expatriates who are living and working in those countries as patients, besides those who actually did travel abroad for treatment, so again here is another area where transparency is needed.

Finally, as I point out in my post, Ensuring Patient Safety: Making Sure Medical Tourism Puts Its Money Where Its Mouth Is, patient safety and quality are also important areas where transparency must be observed if the medical tourism industry is to be more than just a rich man’s game. You have to prove to all stakeholders in the care and treatment of patients, and even the patients themselves, that you have equal or better quality outcomes than what is available in the US, and that patient safety, like costs and numbers of treated patients, are presented upfront and clearly to all interested parties. Failing to do so will only drag down the growth of medical tourism, and may even give it a black eye from which it may never recover.

The Ugly

As in any endeavor, individuals are bound to find detractors who critique and even attack you for your beliefs and for your efforts. I am no exception to that, and have received my share of critiques and attacks during the past year. I answered these critics in the following two posts, The Faith of My Conviction: Integrating Medical Tourism into Workers’ Compensation is Possible and is not a Pipe Dream, and Clearing the Air: My Defense of Implementing Medical Tourism into Workers’ Compensation.

I am not going to rehash this issue here again, but only bring it up as one part of what I see as the ugly side of medical tourism. There is too much personal animosity among certain individuals and organizations, especially in an industry that is still in its infancy. And while I have accepted an apology from one of my critics, there are still some ugly and vile behaviors that have been perpetrated against well-meaning and decent people who just want to grow this industry from the bottom up, instead of from the top down. There is no reason why people have to be nasty to each other, there is enough business on this planet of seven billion to go around.

Any organization that purports to represent the interests of an industry at large, and whose executives claim to be reputable spokespersons for that industry, must not engage in childish and unprofessional behavior that casts doubt on the individuals involved, the organization they belong to and the industry as a whole.

Holding fancy conferences around the world and charging big numbers only to see a handful of attendees actually paying and the rest being invited or begged to attend, does not suggest a healthy and vibrant industry, nor does it show that the leading organization promoting that industry is a trustworthy and honest one.

What I have not gotten from both industries

Medical Tourism industry

Perhaps it is because many in the industry have a background in general health care, or perhaps it is because they have experience in the travel, wellness and resort industries, that many of the people who have connected with me are not familiar or aware of what potential the US workers’ compensation market can be. I have received many offers of partnerships with these individuals, but I have to point out to them that I am not a doctor, I am not a medical tourism facilitator, nor do I have any other business that would partner with them in such an endeavor, and therefore, cannot refer patients to them.

Naturally, I thank them for considering me, but given that many of them are in Asia, and I am focusing on Latin America and the Caribbean, there is no reason for me to explore it. I would, however, like to hear from some organization or company doing business in that region who is seriously considering entering a new market such as workers’ compensation, given the increase in the Hispanic and Caribbean workforce in the US. That region has many “rising stars” in the medical tourism world, and can be very lucrative if the right people recognize its potential.

In addition, the newsletters and blogs that have re-posted my posts have for the most part, not generated much feedback or comments, and I wonder if anyone besides the publishers and their staffs are reading them. My own blog publishing site, WordPress.com, has garnered me nearly 10,000 views since I began blogging, but again, the response has been rather weak.

Workers’ Compensation industry

As I stated above, the most important reason why I began the blog was to simply find a job in the workers’ compensation industry after spending two years in school getting my MHA degree and looking for work after the recession and jobless recovery following the events of 9/11, the housing bubble that burst in 2007, and the financial collapse of 2008. The problem that I and many others are facing is that the industry is shrinking and companies are being bought by either their competitors, or by private equity firms, such as what just was announced recently when a company called Apax Partners bought One Call Care Management (OCCM), a workers’ compensation services company in a multi-billion dollar deal.

In May, I had lunch with one of OCCM’s Regional Sales Directors who shares my idea about medical tourism and workers’ compensation, and who thought we might be able to put something together that would address his clients’ concerns about the high cost of surgery. His company provides transportation, translation, home care equipment and medical devices to the work comp industry, and even has an in-house travel agency, which would make them the ideal medical tourism facilitator for workers’ compensation patients.

After several phone calls that ended without any further action on our parts, I decided to contact the top management of his company, even sending my White Paper and resume to the Chairman of the company and the President and CEO. That was back in September, and one month later, I have not heard from either of them.

I learned recently that because of this deal, it is unlikely that the President of the company will do anything with my idea. That seems to be the case with many other companies, and why I have gotten no traction with my idea from anyone else in the workers’ comp industry. When I post my blog posts on social media, it is like they are falling on deaf ears, or in this case, blind eyes. They seem to more concerned with being bought up, dealing with the opioid issue, or the physician dispensing issue (which is related to the opioid issue), or they just don’t see this as a viable alternative because they are too conservative and too cautious, and too willing to do the same things over and over again and expect different results. That, as I said before in a more recent post, is The Definition of Crazy.

Predictions

Making predictions nowadays is a little like knowing what Ted Cruz is going to do next for an encore; they’re unpredictable and designed to make the person doing so look good, so to spare you and me from any embarrassment, let me just add that health care is changing, and the direction that it takes will depend a lot on what has already happened, and what is currently happening, especially in light of the problems with the ACA rollout earlier this month.

But my recent post, Ten Years On: One Person’s View of Where the Medical Tourism Industry will be a decade from now, spells out some of the things that may influence the direction medical tourism takes in the future. Hospital costs, outpatient costs, consolidation of hospitals, cost to employees, immigration reform and technology will all play a role in determining the direction medical tourism takes in the next ten years and beyond.

Conclusion

As I begin a new year of blogging, I am grateful for the opportunity to provide my readers with new knowledge and insights to different topics, ideas and issues that affect not only workers’ compensation, but all of health care, medical tourism included. I hope that my writing has made many of you stop and think and look at things in a different light. I also hope that you have been entertained by my writing, as far as a serious subject can be entertaining when it pertains to human life.

But most important, I hope that this next year will provide with me everything I had hoped the last year would have; a new position, recognition of my idea as a viable alternative to high cost health care for workers’ compensation, and greater opportunities to personally interact and meet so many of the people engaged in the medical tourism industry around the world.

Here’s to a better blogging year!

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Thank you so much,

Richard