Domestic Medical Tourism and Telemedicine

The idea that local healthcare in a physical setting doesn’t work seems to be the crux of many solutions for leveraging limited resources (MDs) and addressing the geographical pricing differences which exist.  Given what we know about engagement and the value of the physical and personal relationship, there should be a better way.

BUT, without trying to solve for that…I thought I would share a few things that I recently saw.

BridgeHealth Medical is a Colorado based company that is focused on domestic medial tourism.  We’ve all heard about international medical tourism (i.e., flying someone to India for a surgery) and the savings there.  The key (and interesting) question is whether there is some middle ground within the US. 

At least according to the brief story I read in Inc. Magazine, they are getting some traction:

  • 40% savings on a total knee replacement
  • 22% savings on a spinal fusion surgery
  • 13% savings on a prostate surgery

I was amazed that the article said that Americans spend $2.1B outside the US today.  Will this replace that or will it be a new category of spend to track?

And, it will be interesting to track outcomes here and see whether savings translates to better survival rates or improved quality of life.  There will be challenges to the model as I’m sure there have been for international medical tourism.

Cisco on the other hand has rolled out their telemedicine initiative called HealthPresence which uses videoconferencing and high-tech medical equipment to share data.  Obviously, telemedicine has been a tool that’s been tried several times over the years with varying levels of success.  Can Cisco’s efforts and model finally push this from a fringe technology approach to mainstream? 

It’s certainly possible.  Timing may be right.  We’ve seen some success with AmericanWell’s efforts.  The question is how will the consumer respond.  Will they appreciate the easier access?  Will it impact the caregiver / patient relationship? 

Who knows…there is still a lot to learn especially in a country where we’ve been traditionally over-served with our access to healthcare.

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3 Responses to “Domestic Medical Tourism and Telemedicine”

  1. When you mention the term Medical Tourism to most people, they wonder why they would ever travel abroad for treatment, but when you start to mention the various benefits there are to be had, they start to wonder why they haven’t been doing it all along.

  2. Very interesting article! With such an increasingly open dialogue circulating regarding international medical travel, it seems that domestic medical tourism is a subset of this phenomenon which is largely overlooked. Thank you for your great information, I linked this article to my blog, which discusses medical tourism — specifically as it relates to Mexico. Please give it a look, would love to engage in the future! http://ow.ly/5eUgk

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Another Subset to Medical Tourism | Medical Travel to Mexico - June 10, 2011

    […] recently came across some information on another facet of the medical tourism industry which is gaining increasing traction, I thought I would […]

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