THIS WEEK IN U.S. DOMESTIC MEDICAL TRAVEL

Volume 1, Issue 3

by Laura Carabello, Editor

Dear Colleagues,

A growing number of employers are contracting with physician-owned facilities to deliver dramatically lower costs for certain orthopedic and cardiac procedures. These surgery centers also tout "exceptional outcomes."

We are interviewing several groups to see just how well they are meeting market expectations.

Keep in mind that these facilities don't carry the burdens of uncompensated care or chronically ill patients -- and most don't accept Medicare. This gives them an advantage over community hospitals and Centers of Excellence.

Thank you for your interest in this exciting, growing market space. Please be in touch with your comments and editorial contributions, which can be sent directly to: editor@USDomesticMedicalTravel.com.
 
Laura Carabello
Editor and Publisher

Spotlight: J. Wayne Kempton, CEO & President, Kempton Group

 

J. Wayne Kempton, CEO & President, Kempton Group

About J. Wayne Kempton
J. Wayne Kempton came to the Kempton Group in 1992 and became the President and CEO in 2003. For nearly two decades, he has been working with employers in Oklahoma & Texas to ensure their employee benefits fit the needs of our customers. Mr. Kempton earned a bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University and is Life, Health, AD&D, and Property and Casualty Insurance licensed in multiple states.

U.S. Domestic Medical Travel (USDMT): As a third party administrator (TPA), what kind of employer groups are you working with?

J. Wayne Kempton (JK): We work with a variety of midsize employers ranging from medical to manufacturing. We also administer a health plan for community banks across the region.

We administer the benefits for about 15,000 employees. The employer groups are based out of Oklahoma and Texas, but have additional participants across the United States.

USDMT: How did you get started in the TPA business?

JK: I am a second-generation TPA, and I knew right out of college that this was the business I was going to be in.

My father founded The Kempton Group in 1969. The focus at that time was creating a solution for the community banks of Oklahoma and Texas.

The majority of the community banks at that time were fully-insured with a large carrier, and there was a lot of volatility to rates that these small employers were paying.

The bankers and my father worked together to come up with a way to stem this volatility by pooling their premiums and claims to share the risk and reward. A few years later, they decided to become self-insured in order give them more control over their plan and retain surpluses generated by their plan.

Gradually, my dad became a TPA for other employers. He became the TPA of many employers in charge of paying claims and providing administration services for the medical, dental and other employee benefits.

USDMT: How did you get interested in promoting and using local hospitals in the medical travel business?

JK: When I got out of college in 1992, my first task was to meet with our clients and introduce them to a brand new concept: the preferred provider’s organizations (PPOs).

Over time, as we become more familiar with the intricacies of the managed care business, the more I came to believe that transparency is important at every level of business.

An entire industry has been built based upon profiting from the broken healthcare system-the concept that employers will blindly pay for supposed ‘discounts’ regardless of whether these discounts result in actual plan savings is very disconcerting.

For example, a hospital may charge $100 for a procedure and employers will get a 20 percent discount, but the following year the hospital will charge $150 and employers will get a 25 percent discount. The employer group continues to lose ground, while the other players continue to profit, as they are providing more “discounts.”

In 2010, when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was introduced, we began to look at the concept of medical tourism, where you’re incenting employees to go out of the country for their care.

As I began presenting the upfront, global pricing and savings connected with medical tourism to some of my employer groups, some were intrigued by the concept, but were generally uncomfortable forcing their employees to travel these long distances.

USDMT: Did your employers ever send a patient?

JK: No. Despite employer interest in medical tourism, it never took off.

The turning point came when a client suggested that I introduce myself to the facility manager at the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, Dr. Keith Smith. Dr. Smith was at the grassroots level of a burgeoning transparency and domestic medical tourism movement.

Upon meeting Dr. Smith, he informed me that he had great pricing. And the pricing seen through our PPO networks was a far worse deal than his cash prices.

Similar to the concept of medical tourism, the Surgery Center of Oklahoma was able to offer cost-savings for cash-paying customers because they had really tight control on their cost structures-they knew what level they made money at, allowing them to offer bundled, up-front cash pricing.

I explained to Dr. Smith that a self-insured employer is essentially a cash paying customer-the funding that is being used to pay employee medical claims is coming right out of corporate assets, not from an insurance company.

I suggested that if we could devise a way to make my clients look like cash paying customers to The Surgery Center-possibly waiving deductibles, copays, etc.-perhaps we could have access to the cash pricing.

Thus began our Kempton Premier Provider™ program. This arrangement with the Surgery Center of Oklahoma was based on an employer waiving deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance, while promoting price awareness with the patients. In the first few months, we began to see utilization.

McBride Orthopedic Hospital, a physician-owned hospital, is next door to The Surgery Center of Oklahoma.

The CEO of McBride Orthopedic Hospital, Mark Galliart, expressed interested in the arrangement I had with the Surgery Center of Oklahoma. I have since been able to format a global, bundled, transparent price list for the hospital that is also distributed to my employer groups. Also, this movement is not about price alone. In our experience, global transparent pricing drives quality. Only facilities and physicians that are top in their field will embrace transparency. The free market is not kind to high-cost, low-quality healthcare.

As more and more of our participants are being redirected to these forward-thinking facilities that believe in free-market healthcare, more providers are contacting us expressing an interest in this program.

USDMT: How much have you saved for your clients?

JK: It’s hard to pinpoint an exact number on how much clients have saved because it varies from group to group.

Our association plan is our largest benefit Plan. Our estimate, based on this utilization, is that the Plan has saved just under $3 million in less than two years.

The beauty of this is that employers were able to save money, not by not reducing benefits to the employees, but by empowering them with knowledge, choice, and enabling them to make informed, value-focused healthcare buying decisions.

SPOTLIGHT: Keith Smith, CEO, Surgery Center of Oklahoma

G. Keith Smith, M.D.

 

About Keith Smith
G. Keith Smith, M.D., is a board-certified anesthesiologist in private practice since 1990. In 1997, he co-founded The Surgery Center of Oklahoma, an outpatient surgery center in Oklahoma City, Okla., owned by 40 of the top physicians and surgeons in central Oklahoma. Dr. Smith serves as the medical director, CEO and managing partner while maintaining an active anesthesia practice.

In 2009, Dr. Smith launched a website displaying all-inclusive pricing for various surgical procedures, a move that has gained him and the facility national and even international attention. Many Canadians and uninsured Americans have been treated at his facility, taking advantage of the low and transparent pricing available.

Operation of this free-market medical practice, arguably the only one of its kind in the U.S., has gained the endorsement of policymakers and legislators nationally. More and more self-funded insurance plans are taking advantage of Dr. Smith’s pricing model, resulting in significant savings to their employee health plans. His hope is for as many facilities as possible to adopt a transparent pricing model, a move he believes will lower costs for all and improve quality of care.

The Surgery Center of Oklahoma is a 32,535 square-foot, state-of-the-art multispecialty facility in Oklahoma City, owned and operated by approximately 40 of the top surgeons and anesthesiologists in central Oklahoma.

If you have a high deductible or are part of a self-insured plan at a large company, you owe it to yourself or your business to take a look at our facility and pricing which is listed on this site. If you are considering a trip to a foreign country to have your surgery, you should look here first. Finally, if you have no insurance at all, this facility will provide quality and pricing that we believe are unmatched.

It is no secret to anyone that the pricing of surgical services is at the top of the list of problems in our dysfunctional healthcare system. Bureaucracy at the insurance and hospital levels, cost shifting and the absence of free market principles are among the culprits for what has caused surgical care in the U.S. to be cost-prohibitive. As more and more patients find themselves paying more out-of-pocket, it is clear that something must change. We believe that a very different approach is necessary, one involving transparent and direct pricing.

Transparent, direct package pricing means the patient knows exactly what the cost of the service will be upfront.

U.S. Domestic Medical Travel (USDMT): Tell us how you got started with your own surgi-center?

Keith Smith (KS): I was trained to do cardiac and pediatric anesthesia, and I was recruited to Oklahoma City to focus on cardiac cases. When Medicare stopped paying anesthesiologist fees for cardiac anesthesia, I concentrated on my pediatric practice.

I was really alarmed at how brutally the hospitals treated the patients, doctors and surgeons-particularly the good doctors. As more hospitals continued to run off the doctors, I began to see my practice falling apart.

A colleague and I decided that we would just walk out. We took our big practices, walked out and all the surgeons that we worked with followed. Together with another anesthesiologist, Dr. Steven Lantier, in 1997 we purchased an old, burned-out and corporately mismanaged surgery center.

Gradually, we outgrew the facility and used proceeds and revenues from that operation to build a 40,000 square-foot facility that we still utilize.

Our mission from the very beginning was to offer quality care at affordable prices, which we have been very successful in providing.

In fact, word got around Oklahoma City amongst the uninsured that if they needed surgery, it would be unreasonable to seek treatment elsewhere.

Prospective patients would call and inquire about surgery costs and I would just quote them a price- a practice that was unheard of.

USDMT: So that is the ultimate level of transparency?

KS: Definitely.

It has been an educational process for everyone involved. Surgeons and anesthesiologists bill for their time. While there are some degrees of complexity, ultimately we all bill for time.

Once we figured out the math, it became easier to figure out prices and, in turn, deliver quotes for patients.

USDMT: So would you say that your prices are a percentage lower than what the going rate is in Oklahoma City?

KS: Yes, they are about 90 percent lower. The same surgery that is $3,000 at our surgery center is commonly $30,000 at a not-for-profit hospital.

I believe in a free market, but I’m not entirely sure if my prices are on point. I won’t know the answer for sure until somebody starts competing with me. The fact is that true prices emerge from a competitive market. They are never imposed.

Our surgi-center put our prices online four years ago, partly to expose the scam and cartelization of care, which is the result of the collusion of the big hospitals and their insurance pals.

The other reason was to attract people who either did not have insurance or had giant deductibles or health savings accounts.

Interestingly, the first people that showed interest in our center were Canadians when they found out they could buy their way out of the lines they were standing in at a low cost.

Then we began to wonder if self-funded companies would be interested in what we were doing. Now the self-funded companies are the most rapidly growing part of our business.

Self-funded companies that may have Blue Cross, United, Cigna or a TPA to assist them are now directly contracting with us at our website rate.

USDMT: Do individuals come from other states? How many of the states would you say you draw patients from?

KS: I would say we’ve had patients come here from roughly 40 states. We’ve also had patients seek treatment here from Canada, Nigeria, Turkey, Ethiopia and Israel.

USDMT: Do you know if employers waive the patient co-pay and deductible to incent utilization?

KS: Yes, they do.

I have a two-page contract with Jay Kempton, owner of the Kempton Group, where I agree to do procedures at specific prices and he agrees to pay me in 30 days. Either party can walk away from it at any point. We do almost all outpatient surgery here.

USDMT: What types of procedures?

KS: Orthopedics, ENT, pediatric ophthalmology, gynecology, general surgery and plastic reconstructive surgery- we don’t do cosmetic surgery, but we do post-mastectomy breast reconstruction and some pain procedures, but not many.

We just added cervical spine surgery and have been performing cervical fusions. We have people from Alaska traveling to our facility for spinal fusions because it costs $185,000 there and roughly $21,000 here, which includes the hardware. The prices we have online are all bundled prices, which include the physician fee.

USDMT: Is there any extra charge for a device that’s used?

KS: I never mark up the implants. There’s no margin or markup on any of the implants, and I provide the invoices for that.

USDMT: How about your outcomes?

KS: There are a lot of individuals that claim they have great outcomes, but they are not operating on people who are sick, or they are performing unnecessary procedures which makes their outcomes look terrific.

We display our infection rates online because it is measurable. The other metrics patients should examine are unanticipated hospital admissions, rates of patient satisfaction and certainly mortality rates.

USDMT: If there is an untoward outcome and the patient has to remain or go through another procedure, how do you handle that?

KS: That is not a risk that we take with the pricing that we have.

I could modify our prices and build that risk in, but truthfully we haven’t had that problem.

We performed back surgery on a patient from Wisconsin, removed a bad disc and the individual felt great following surgery. When the patient went home, he slipped on his cat, fell and ruptured a disk at another level. There was nothing wrong with what we had done surgically - he simply ruptured a disc on another level.

Considering that he fell, we got him back to our surgi-center and operated on the other level. In fact, the surgeon waived his fee and I waived my anesthesia fee. The patient was only charged the supply cost of the case which was $1,000.

We have relationships with employers and with TPAs that we value, so my goal is to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. The last thing I am going to try to do is to mirror hospitals and try to maximize profit off of a complication.

I want to minimize pain to the payer.

USDMT: Your surgi-center is physician-owned?

KS: Yes - 100 percent - no affiliation with any hospital whatsoever.

USDMT: Your center is grandfathered in and not subject to the Medicare regulation restricting physician-owned centers?

KS: As a surgery center, those rules do not technically apply to us. In actuality, none of the rules apply to us because we do not-and will not ever-take a dime of the federal money.

Since 1997, we’ve never taken Medicare money. I don’t feel like it is right to take money from my neighbor for services that I rendered to an elderly person across town that my neighbor doesn’t even know. I consider that robbery.

This is how I’ve looked at it since 1993. I walked away from Medicare and I nixed any ties to Medicare. It seems more practical to perform procedures for free than to fleece my neighbor.

USDMT: My hat is off to you on that. Has anyone replicated your platform and model in another state that you are aware of?

KS: Not yet, although people are trying.

I’ve had a couple of inquires in the last few weeks where people wanted me to come in as a consultant to help them achieve what I am doing. I receive a lot of e-mails from individuals who are interested in displaying prices.

I am actually trying to help with what are probably my future competitors. We really want this model to spread because it would be very healthy for healthcare in the U.S.

USDMT: Do you think because you are able to keep your costs down in Oklahoma, the same situation would prevail in New York City?

KS: The reason our costs are low is because we are 100 percent physician-owned. By virtue of this, we have eliminated the greediest and inefficient profit seekers from the equation and that is the not-for-profit hospital.

USDMT: Your model may be the prototype for the market.

KS: Thank you, that is great to hear.

I get e-mailed every week from people who say, “I was scheduled in Tijuana, or scheduled in Havana or Costa Rica, and I’m coming to you because your price is actually the same, or better, and I don’t have to travel.”

I’ve looked at prices on medical tourism sites outside of the U.S. and there is no way they can touch our value. Their prices often times are good and sometimes lower than ours, but that is not what it really is about. You don’t necessarily want the cheapest care. Value-wise, I don't think we have many competitors.


Part III of III: Traveling for Healthcare - What Should You Do?
Stewart M. Hamilton, M.D., C.M.O., The Medical Travel Commission

Beyond quality, safety and patient satisfaction, what other questions need to be considered and answered? Where are you willing to go? Within your own country or internationally? If the answer is internationally then consider there may be cultures and customs in some parts of the world that may make that country or region less desirable to some, and more desirable to others. Remember that you are most likely to be spending time in that country before and after your treatment. Are there significant language issues? Should the worst occur, would the staff caring for you follow your advance directives or the wishes of whoever has power of attorney for you?  Is insurance available to cover unanticipated cancellations, returns or family issues? Will I need a passport and or visa? What, if any, arrangements will need to be made for your return with casts, implants and wheelchair? Do you intend to recuperate post procedure close to where you had your treatment? If so, where do you plan to go and what are the available facilities? Does the medical facility take all comers or do they, in fact, really screen patients? You do not want to travel to then be rejected or to realize that your surgeon has done but a handful of the procedures that you need. You also really do not want to find a physician who does not know his or her limitations and who is willing to take any and all patients. 

All of the above are issues, ideas and considerations to be taken into account. Travelling for medical care should not be undertaken without plenty of thought, but can be, and is, undertaken by thousands of patients each year with great success. Having said that, there may be reasons that it may be less desirable for a particular individual. Generally speaking, if you are otherwise healthy and traveling for care of relatively simple and straightforward issues, aiming to reduce costs and/or combine care with a vacation, then once you have considered the quality, safety, satisfaction and cost issues outlined above, you can go ahead and make plans. However, if you have a complex past medical history and multiple medical problems you really must give very careful thought as to whether it makes sense to seek care far from home and family, particularly internationally. It is an unfortunate reality that there may be difficulty in finding a physician willing to take over your care at home should you be unlucky enough to return with complications from a surgical procedure for which you have travelled outside your own country. For the most part, this happens out of concern about taking care of another physician's complications and the fear of being drawn into subsequent malpractice. Although you may be reticent about discussing leaving your home medical community with your personal physician, it is extremely important when you have multiple medical issues and/or a chronic disease such as diabetes mellitus or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to speak to a medical professional before committing to medical travel. Risks are all relative but without adequate background medical knowledge it is very difficult for the average lay individual to make a rational decision as to the degree of medical risk. For example, poorly controlled diabetes greatly increases the risk of post-operative infection; and severe COPD greatly increases the chance of respiratory failure and the need of ventilator assistance. Co-existing cancer and/or immune deficiency can significantly complicate care. Anticoagulant use and significant coronary artery disease can bring significant issues. In any of the above circumstances you would be foolish to travel without discussion with your current caregivers.

I certainly do not intend to dissuade anyone for traveling for care, but it is important to consider all angles before embarking on a journey outside your home area without some serious thought. Nonetheless, many thousands have gone before, and the majority would go again.


Minimizing the Cost of Healthcare through Medical Travel in the U.S.
by Robin Gelburd

When considering where to receive medical treatment, it has become commonplace for patients to weigh options that exist not only in their hometowns, but in other cities across the U.S. While quality of care has traditionally been the primary deciding factor in choosing a hospital or physician for a specific treatment or procedure, the cost of healthcare has become an increasingly important factor for consideration. As patients have been asked to pay a greater proportion of the cost of their care - through higher co-pays, deductibles and other plan cost-sharing features - having access to geographically specific healthcare-cost information gives patients the power to make more informed decisions on whether to travel for care and how to plan for it financially.

As highlighted by this Spring’s release of CMS data on hospital charges, there is often significant variation in the cost of a medical procedure from city to city, as well as from hospital to hospital. Other research has found that efforts to obtain actual price data from hospitals can be challenging. Consumers are expected to “shop around” for their healthcare by comparing prices but, ultimately, that information may be difficult to come by.

How can patients arm themselves with healthcare cost information for different geographic locations across the U.S. to ensure that they make the best decision about treatment? Taking advantage of new tools that estimate healthcare costs, researching providers that offer care through alternative delivery models, as well as taking the time to fully understand your health plan and its reimbursement for different types of care can all help.

  1. Research typical costs before you receive treatment. As the nation struggles with reducing healthcare costs, there has been a growing trend to help patients better understand the cost of the care that they receive. Free resources have been created to help with this task by organizations such as FAIR Health, which offers an award-winning free website and companion mobile application that allows patients to obtain estimates of what they will be charged for specific medical and dental services in the zip code that the patient selects. With this information, consumers can better understand and compare their potential out-of-pocket exposure in various locations where they are considering receiving treatment. This can be especially helpful when weighing options between several cities.

    FAIR Health’s location-specific cost information can also help patients negotiate prices with the provider they are considering for treatment. By presenting information on what is typically charged for a service or procedure, a patient can discuss the bill they will receive with a hospital or doctor’s billing office and, depending on the provider, negotiate treatment costs in advance. Cost information can also serve as an effective tool for negotiating a lower price for a bill after it has been received - especially in cases where the bill was not expected - or populating an appeal of an insurer’s reimbursement decision.

  2. Take advantage of mobile cost tools when you are presented with a treatment decision by your doctor. The FH Healthcare Cost Estimatorsm app, the mobile version of FAIR Health’s consumer website, offers on-the-spot price information (available for free download in Apple’s iTunes store and through GooglePlay). If an additional test or treatment is recommended on short notice during the course of a medical or dental visit, patients can use the app to make a more informed decision quickly.

  3. Explore providers who are affiliated with alternative care delivery models. The healthcare system is experimenting with new business arrangements with hospitals and doctors that are intended to reduce the cost of care while improving care quality and long-term patient outcomes. Accountable care organizations (ACOs), as well as the trend of paying doctors a salary versus fee-for-service (i.e., reimbursing them on an item-by-item basis for all of the tests and services they provide) can help to minimize the cost of care, as well as potentially remove the incentive to perform unnecessary tests and procedures. These models are set up to measure outcomes in order to ensure that patients are receiving the same, or higher, quality of care as they would in more traditional care models. In some cases, health plans are more likely to cover patients who elect hospitals and physicians operating through these new models. It is therefore worth researching what alternative delivery models might be available when deciding whether to travel to seek care.

  4. Understand how your health plan will reimburse out-of-network procedures. The healthcare landscape can be difficult to navigate, and even more so when visiting providers far from home. It is essential that patients have a comprehensive understanding of their benefits, and that they know the important questions to ask when considering various hospitals or providers. Through widely available educational resources, patients can gain a better understanding of basic insurance concepts, the necessary questions to ask their insurer and potential providers when considering traveling for care, as well as how they may ultimately be covered for their procedures.

Of course, a seamless healthcare experience is not always guaranteed no matter how prepared a patient may be. However, the more informed patients are before traveling for medical treatment, the more likely they will be to ultimately receive the care that best meets their needs both in terms of quality and cost.

About Robin Gelburd
Robin Gelburd is president of FAIR Health, Inc., a national independent, not-for-profit corporation with the mission to bring transparency to healthcare costs and health insurance information through comprehensive data products, consumer resources and research tools, all powered by the nation’s largest collection of medical and dental claims data.


Hip Replacement Market to Grow as More Young People Face Arthritis
--Total hip replacement market to hit $7.1 billion by 2019
--U.S. to maintain top status with 57 percent market share

The Total Hip Replacement (THR) market is estimated to reach a value of $7.1 billion by 2019, due not only to the growth of the global elderly population, but also the climbing number of younger patients in need of the procedure, according to a new report from research and consulting firm GlobalData.

The new report* states that in 2012 the THR market across 10 major countries (U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, U.K., Japan, Brazil, China and India) was estimated at $6.2 billion, but an increase in demand across all age demographics will see the number grow significantly in the near future.

By 2019, GlobalData estimates the U.S. will maintain its status as the major global market for THR with a share of 57 percent, followed by Japan and China at 9 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Regarding European countries, the market share will remain relatively stable for the forecast period.

Additionally, the report highlights the potential market for THR manufacturers in developing countries such as Brazil and India, which are growing rapidly. Their booming populations have a growing middle class that can afford a new quality of care, and is also getting more access to reimbursement.
“The hip replacement market is mature and seeing some pricing pressure from healthcare policy makers, yet is still growing in numbers. A major driver for this growth is the emerging markets and the impact this surgery has on the quality of life of younger patients moving forward,” says Priya Radhakrishnan, senior medical device analyst at GlobalData.

According to GlobalData, the boost in the THR market will be driven by the rising prevalence of osteoarthritis, people living longer and the increase of younger patients receiving hip replacements. The report attributes this rise to a growth in sporting injuries and physically demanding work, as well as an increasing number of young people getting arthritis.

Consequently, with patients living longer, and given the 15 to 20-year lifetime of most implants, revision surgery has become an inevitable next step which will further fuel market growth. However, for this market segment to meet its potential, greater standards of physician training is required, states the report.

*MediPoint: Total Hip Replacement - Global Analysis and Market Forecasts
Notes to Editors
This report focuses on the total primary hip replacement market along with the primary revision market. The report covers the key markets of the U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, U.K., Japan, Brazil, China and India.

This report was built using data and information sourced from proprietary databases, primary and secondary research, and in-house analysis conducted by GlobalData’s team of industry experts.
For guidelines on how to cite GlobalData, please see: http://www.globaldata.com/QuotingGlobalData.aspx

About GlobalData
GlobalData is a leading global research and consulting firm offering advanced analytics to help clients make better, more informed decisions every day. Our research and analysis is based on the expert knowledge of over 700 qualified business analysts and 25,000 interviews conducted with industry insiders every year, enabling us to offer the most relevant, reliable and actionable strategic business intelligence available for a wide range of industries.

For more information, please contact our Press Office on +44 (0)1204 543 528 or at pr@globaldata.com.

Surveys Reveal U.S. Travel Industry Needs a Better Understanding of Wellness Travel: The Guide to Selling Wellness Travel Released

The surging interest in healthy lifestyles, coupled with the desire for “experiential” travel, is contributing to the growth of the wellness tourism market. Consumers are using vacations to jump-start a health regimen, detox from a digital word, and learn healthier behaviors. While wellness-focused vacations are one of the hottest trends, US travel agents, suppliers and destinations report they need more information in order to successfully sell wellness travel.

According to a series of surveys aimed at travel sellers and travel suppliers conducted by Wellness Tourism Worldwide between 2012 and 2013, respondents identified the following needs:

1) A better understanding of wellness travel products and services

2) A better understanding of wellness travel motivations

3) A better understanding wellness consumer demographics

4) A better understanding of consumer health issues

With epidemic levels of stress contributing to chronic disease, it is no surprise consumers are partaking in vacations designed to benefit mind, body and spirit.

“Health opens the door to a whole new world - as does travel. Wellness travel presents an amazing opportunity for both the travel industry and the clients it serves. It’s both personally and professionally rewarding; everyone wants to be vibrant and well.” said Camille Hoheb, wellness travel expert, Founder of Wellness Tourism Worldwide and Editor of the Wellness Travel Journal.

Ms. Hoheb added, “Over the last couple of years I’ve enjoyed connecting with hundreds of travel sellers who are excited about wellness travel. Yet, they told me they don't know where to start. That’s how the how-to guide was born. It was written with the input from hundreds of travel professionals and consumers. While The Guide is written specifically for travel agents, it is a useful resource for anyone interested in this niche. I'm happy to share what's taken me years to learn. The Guide has been released less than two weeks and already one destination gifted copies to all of their guests at their health and wellness travel sellers seminar.”

The Guide to Selling Wellness Travel can be purchased through www.wellnesstourismworldwide.com.

Ms. Hoheb is available for interviews to discuss the benefits of specializing in, and selling wellness travel. To request an interview or to book Ms. Hoheb for lectures and workshops, send a request to info@wellnesstourismworldwide.com.

About: The Guide to Selling Wellness Travel is a powerful resource designed with learning objectives and exercises to help you get up to speed quickly so you can grow your business. It also includes a resource chapter with recommended articles, books, groups to join, sites to see and things to do. You won't find this anywhere else!

About WTW’s New Initiative: Selling Wellness Travel provides knowledge, contacts and resources for travel agents and suppliers to promote wellness vacations and retreats. Selling Wellness Travel provides personalized support, travel agent promotion and customized training solutions (www.sellingwellnesstravel.com).

About: Wellness Tourism Worldwide (WTW) provides market intelligence, education and promotion to destinations, travel sellers and traveler suppliers. WTW’s mission is to improve well-being and economic growth through travel. Our team includes experts responsible for global branding, spa operations, hotel management, hospital administration and healthcare marketing (www.wellnesstourismworldwide.com).

About: Wellness Travel Journal (WTJ) transports inspires, educates and motivates readers to invest in themselves through wellness experiences, vacations and retreats and book their next trip (www.wellnesstraveljournal.com).

About U.S. Vacationers: Health, Happiness & Productivity - The Essential Report for Travel, Hospitality & Wellness Industries helps guide strategy for tourism development & promotion for those seeking to attract affluent U.S. travelers. Over 93% of respondents hold passports, are vested in wellness and place a high value on vacations.

 

From the Editor
ASTA Network Magazine has published a medical travel article entitled, “Sun, Sea, Sand, and Surgery,” in its Summer 2013 issue. Author of the article, Geri Bain, has included input from medical travel expert, Laura Carabello, executive editor and publisher of Medical Travel Today.

To read the full article click here.


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U.S. Domestic Medical Travel, a sister publication to Medical Travel Today www.medicaltraveltoday.com, is a newsletter published by CPR Strategic Marketing Communications, an international marketing and public relations agency based near New York City that specializes in healthcare and life sciences.  In the new era of health reforms, U.S. Domestic Medical Travel discusses the growth of domestic medical travel and its importance to hospitals, employers, insurers, health plans, government, TPAs, brokers and other intermediaries. 

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Spotlight Interview

J. Wayne Kempton, CEO & President, Kempton Group

Keith Smith, CEO, Surgery Center of Oklahoma

News in Review

Part III of III: Traveling for Healthcare - What Should You Do?

Minimizing the Cost of Healthcare through Medical Travel in the U.S.

Hip Replacement Market to Grow as More Young People Face Arthritis

Surveys Reveal U.S. Travel Industry Needs a Better Understanding of Wellness Travel: The Guide to Selling Wellness Travel Released

From the Editor