Tag Archives: Medical Tourism Facilitators

Zika More Dangerous than First Thought

According to two reports on NBCNews.com, the Zika virus is more dangerous than health officials first thought.

The first report from last week can be found here. The second report says that Zika goes to the brain, and causes nerve damage similar to that caused by multiple sclerosis. Zika destroys developing nerve cells.

What does this mean to you, the medical travel facilitators working in Central and South America?

It means that maybe, money spent to attract patients to your countries, might first be better spent cleaning up your slums and cities that have standing water and debris that can be a breeding ground for the mosquitoes that carry the disease.

It also means that you must work closely with your government agencies to assure that medical travel facilities are clean and prepared to deal with the disease, should there be patients who come down with the disease while getting medical care there.

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‘Turkishmaninacanstan’ Strikes Back

Readers of this blog know that from time to time, I have had to criticize those in the workers’ comp industry for their short-sightedness, narrow-mindedness, excessive American Exceptionalism, “Know-nothingism”,  xenophobia and subtle racism.

But when a well-respected online journal re-posts an article by the chief anti-medical travel opponent in the workers’ comp world, it is high time that the medical travel industry speak up and defend itself.

As a tireless advocate for medical travel in workers’ comp, I am leading the charge that you, my friends around the world must do for yourselves.

You will notice the title of this post. This is what the individual in question calls those countries that provide medical travel services. Also, please note that by using this canard as my title, I am in no way insulting Turkey, or any other nation that markets their medical care to the world.

There is fair criticism of Turkey and many other countries in the medical travel industry, but those criticisms are meant to improve the services and to correct the mistakes of the past, and not to pass judgement on them.

But when someone uses a term such as ‘Turkishmaninacanstan’, it conjures up the worse images of third world poverty and backwardness in all aspects of life of the nations so broadly brushed with that epithet.

The individual who coined that despicable name is a self-styled, right-wing American conservative who lives on the gulf coast of the state of Florida, a region where many individuals like him retire to after their careers have declined to play golf.

While this individual may not be one of those just yet, the fact that he dismisses new ideas, that he insults the millions of men and women around the world who are trying to offer real low cost medical care at equal or better quality, that he insults the very nations who could use those resources they are spending to bring medical travelers to their countries as a way to improve their balance of trade and economic power in the global economy, when they could be used to raise the living standards of their poorest citizens, is something that can no longer go unanswered.

So, I ask all of you, doctors, nurses, travel agents, medical tourism promoters and facilitators who are legitimately trying to provide better medical care at lower cost to all of the world’s citizens, to speak up and tell this individual and those like him, that your countries are not ‘Turkishmaninacanstans’, and that you are developing world-class medical facilities that outshine those in his own country, and mine.

Basically, he is calling you con artists and frauds, and that is something that only you can stop.

 

 

 

 

Satori Files For Bankruptcy: What that Means for Medical Travel

As reported last month by US Domestic Medical Travel.com, Satori World Medical, Inc., a company based in San Diego, filed for bankruptcy.

When news of this story broke, I inquired with my contact at US Domestic Medical Travel.com to learn what this meant for the patent Satori had taken out that had a chokehold on the growth and development of the medical travel sector, both domestic and international.

Her reply was that she was not sure, so I looked up what happens when a company goes bankrupt. Most of the information concerned companies who manufactured products and what happens to the patents to those products after a bankruptcy. The gist of what I found was that they transfer to the receivers/liquidators.

But since Satori’s patent is for an idea, and not a tangible asset like manufactured goods or inventory, I doubt the receivers/liquidators for this action would be willing to take this asset. What would they do with it?

So, instead of wondering, because that may be a fruitless exercise, let’s look at what the patent was all about, what it allowed and did not allow, and then you can decide how best to model your business plan going forward.

The Satori patent, trademarked as the “Health & Shared Wealth Program”, is actually two patents; the first, U.S. Patent 8160897, titled the “Satori Integrated Health & Financial Benefits System and Method” and U.S. Patent 8224668, a Continuation-in-Part to Patent No. 8162897.

They are part of a portfolio of other patents of intellectual property that regard the calculating and sharing of the dollar savings from a medical travel health benefit. The patents provided Satori with exclusive rights to the only permissible medical shared savings model in the medical travel industry.

I know what you all are thinking, how can anyone patent an idea such as this? Isn’t this restraint of trade, you may wonder?

Well, as I am not a patent attorney, nor an intellectual property expert either, I would think not, except that was the case before the bankruptcy.

As Satori’s own website states, the Health & Shared Wealth Program supports organizations by lowering their cost structure for health benefits by providing plan members with a highly-valued benefit option at no cost to the plan sponsor or members.

The parent patent, they continue, is a system and method that calculates the savings generated when a patient selects medical care outside the US.

It waves all co-pays, deductibles, and/or co-insurance, making the selection of outbound medical care a 100% medical benefit for the patient. In addition, it shares the savings between the patient and the insurer/employer.

I want to stop here in the explanation of the patent to tell you my idea, and why this patent seems to me to be a restraint of trade issue and a virtual monopoly.

My idea was to implement medical travel into workers’ compensation in the US, and along the way, after writing my paper on the subject, and this blog, I learned from other individuals that the best way to do so was to offer an financial incentive from the savings to the claimant/patient from either his employer or insurance carrier.

At the same time, I learned from one individual, that in order for this to be advantageous, the savings had to be greater than $5,000 for medical care received outside the US. So for example, if a knee surgery in the US cost $30,000, in order to convince an employer or insurance company of the efficacy of outbound medical travel, the cost of that knee surgery would have to be $25,000 or less.

How much the claimant/patient would receive and when and how they would receive it is a matter of discussion. It could be a percentage of the savings, a flat-rate of say, $2,000 or $2,500, or come from the overall settlement of the claim, but that could take years to realize.

Returning to the patent, the Health & Shared Wealth Program, Satori states, precludes certain entities such as medical travel/medical tourism facilitators (I bet you are hoping mad at this point; I sympathize), health plans, self-funded and fully insured employers, Taft-Hartley trusts (labor unions), unions, workers’ compensation carriers (this got me mad), municipalities, pension plans, etc., from offering any shared savings model similar to the one described above to their clients and/or plan members without written permission from Satori (now you must be steaming!!!!).

So, what does this mean? If Satori is out of business, we can all take a sigh of relief that now the wicked witch of the west (Satori) is dead. What comes next is up to you. Prior to the announcement, there were ways to get around the patent’s restriction. Now, that may not be necessary.

My suggestion is get yourselves some good IP attorneys to see if you are good to go, and if you are given the green light, adjust your business model and plan accordingly. You will only benefit from the fall of the house of Satori.

 

The IMTCC Is What Medical Tourism Is Supposed To Be

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I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to another one of my LinkedIn connections, who is part of the medical tourism industry. Her name is Christina de Moraes, and she is the CEO and founder of the International Medical Tourism Chamber of Commerce (IMTCC), located in California. Christina has been involved with medical tourism, as both a patient and a patient advocate for more than ten years when she first began her “Medical Concierge” services in Brazil.

She was the President and founder of MedNetBrazil and MedNetCostaRica from 2002 to 2012, and she has been a consultant for the Medical Tourism Industry, as well as a Patient Advocate and Plastic Surgery Consultant for the very specific techniques of Post Massive Weight Loss Reconstruction and Brazilian Plastic Surgery techniques, as well as bariatric surgeries.

Christina has spent 10 years as a cultural, medical, social and business liaison between her patients, her company and Brazilian medical providers, marrying the needs of each to achieve mutual benefit, create trust, improve results and implant ethics in medical tourism facilitating.

She founded the IMTCC in May 2012. Her reason in founding the IMTCC was so that medical tourism consumers/patients, health care providers, and medical tourism service providers could have an unbiased source to guide them on matters of competence and trust.

There are three tenets of medical tourism that members and providers are committed to providing so that patients will have a safe and successful medical tourism experience. The three tenets are:

ADVOCACY, AFTERCARE, AND ACCOUNTABILITY…LEADING THE WAY TO ACCREDITATION

The IMTCC’s Mission Statement expounds on the three tenets and lays out the mission of the IMTCC as a reliable and trustworthy organization committed to the highest standards.

IMTCC Mission Statement

To Formally Declare, Endorse and Implement the Three Tenets of Medical Tourism:

ADVOCACY, AFTERCARE and ACCOUNTABILITY … Paving the Way to Accreditation Standards

Provide a Leadership Role in Advancing Marketplace TRUST and Industry INTEGRITY

Set Best Standards of Practice and Patient Centered Care Delivery, Regardless of International Borders.

Epitomize Result and Performance-Based Membership Standards and Transparent Reporting Practices

Promote the Use of Best Standards of Practice by Offering Coordinated Workflow Protocols and Homogeneous Patient Care Processes

MACSS – Medical Aftercare and Concierge Support Services

Provide Training, Mentoring and Constructive Feedback to Chamber Members as a way to add integrity and value to the Services and Expertise They Offer to Patients.

Create an International Network of Accomplished Medical Tourism Services Providers and Preeminent Healthcare Professionals

Provide Education and Unbiased Advice to Patient Consumers and the Marketplace

Represent the VOC – Voice of the Customer – to Healthcare, Insurance and Medical Tourism Providers

Denounce Substandard Industry Performance, Behaviors and Practices Through Unbiased and Diligent Compilation and Transparent Disclosure of Important Industry Outcomes, Complication Rates and Patient Satisfaction

Celebrate Both Healthcare and Industry Role Models, Visionaries, Motivators and Innovators

Become Internationally Recognized as the Trustworthy Resource to Turn to for Objective, Unbiased Information on Medical Tourism and International Healthcare Providers.

Promote the Three Tenets as a Global Model and Catalyst for Change in the Delivery of Healthcare

As the medical tourism industry is still a relatively new and growing industry, there are problems, as there is with any other new industry, and it is up to the members of that industry to figure out how is the best way to promote and market its services to the public, as well as to provide the public with assurance that their industry is open, honest, above-board, and adheres to the standards and ethics of any other business.

Medical tourism certainly has its pluses and minuses, and there are organizations (won’t name them here) that have not lived up to the expectations of the members of the medical tourism industry, and it is the duty of organizations like the IMTCC, and a new group that Christina told me about recently, called the Global Healthcare Travel Council, to correct the mistakes others have committed. The IMTCC is one of those organizations, and I thought it was vital that the workers’ compensation industry got to know them a little.