Volume 1, Issue 18

Dear Colleagues,

As 2014 comes to a close, I would like to express my sincerest gratitude for your continued readership and support. Happy Holidays and I wish you much success in the New Year!

Recently, the State of Florida began to position itself as a worldwide medical travel destination.

The official tourism marketing corporation for the State of Florida, VISIT FLORIDA, has spent a great deal of time constructing a plan to maximize the state's investment in medical tourism and effectively leverage that investment with the private sector.

Will Seccombe, president and CEO, insists that healthcare in the State of Florida will continue to grow, and more residents will take advantage of, and benefit, from a medical travel initiative.

On another front, the cost of misdiagnosis is growing, in terms of dollars spent on inappropriate or unnecessary treatment and procedures, as well as emotional hardship for patients and their loved ones. 

Global health company Best Doctors helps patients overcome issues associated with medical uncertainty by providing access to the top five percent of physicians in over 450 specialty areas (ranked by impartial peer review). This service helps individuals quickly and efficiently receive the right diagnosis and the right treatment. Currently, over 30 million individuals worldwide have free and confidential access to Best Doctors services. 

Lewis Levy, M.D., senior vice president, Medical Affairs, and chief quality officer, Best Doctors, explains that Best Doctors' top experts consult with patients who, "For example, may be informed of the need for a new aortic valve, but are left with questions about where to find top-quality care and doctors, and if the procedure is necessary in the first place."

We're starting to hear from many hospitals, independent surgi-centers and provider groups that want to be better positioned to serve self-funded employers offering medical/surgical travel options.  If you have a good story to tell us, please be in touch!  We want to boost opportunities for Centers of Excellence nationwide. 

Tell us:

What distinguishes your service offering in terms of cost, patient experience and satisfaction, outcomes, or other quality indicators. 

Send us your descriptor, including photos or charts, and we will evaluate for publication in this newsletter.

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

Will Seccombe, President and CEO, VISIT FLORIDA®


About Will Seccombe
Will Seccombe leads the state's destination marketing organization in partnership with the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and the statewide tourism industry.

As the official tourism marketing corporation for the State of Florida, VISIT FLORIDA was created by the Florida Legislature in 1996 as a public/private partnership. VISIT FLORIDA's mission is to promote travel and drive visitation to and within Florida, supporting its vision to establish the Sunshine State as the number one travel destination in the world. With a $212 million annual budget and a staff of 131.5 professionals, VISIT FLORIDA adds value and creates value for its statewide tourism industry partners through cooperative destination marketing programs both domestically and internationally.

VISIT FLORIDA, the state's official tourism marketing corporation, serves as Florida's official source for travel planning to visitors across the globe. VISIT FLORIDA is not a government agency, but rather a not-for-profit corporation created as a public/private partnership by the Florida Legislature in 1996.
As the state's number one industry, tourism was responsible for welcoming 93.7 million visitors who spent $76.1 billion in 2013, generating 23 percent of the state's sales tax revenue and employing nearly 1.1 million Floridians. For every $1 spent on tourism marketing, VISIT FLORIDA generates more than $390 in tourism spending and $23 in new sales tax collections -- paid by visitors, not residents.

Additional funding is secured from the private sector to expand VISIT FLORIDA's marketing dollars. Last fiscal year, VISIT FLORIDA raised more than $120.1 million in private sector matching funds. This is done by actively recruiting the state's tourism industry to invest as partners through cooperative advertising campaigns, promotional programs and many other pay-to-play ventures. Through this public/private partnership, VISIT FLORIDA serves more than 12,000 tourism industry businesses, including major strategic alliance partnerships with The Hertz Corporation, LEGOLAND Florida Resort, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Universal Orlando Resort and Disney Destinations.

VISIT FLORIDA facilitates tourism industry participation in domestic and international travel trade and consumer shows, as well as media missions to the top global visitor markets. VISIT FLORIDA also works closely with travel agents, tour operators, meeting and event planners, and is responsible for operating Florida's five Official Welcome Centers.

VISIT FLORIDA has 131.5 employees in Florida and an international team of contracted staff covering Canada, China, India, Germany, Latin America and the United Kingdom. VISIT FLORIDA's corporate office is located at 2540 W. Executive Center Circle, Suite 200, Tallahassee, Florida 32301. The office can be reached at (850) 488-5607.

To learn more about VISIT FLORIDA, go to www.VISITFLORIDA.org or follow our corporate blog at www.sunshinematters.org.

U.S. Domestic Medical Travel (USDMT): How did VISIT FLORIDA get involved in the medical travel space?

Will Seccombe (WS): Last spring, the Florida legislature passed a budget of $5 million to establish a medical tourism initiative in the state, and VISIT FLORIDA was identified as the organization to lead it.

Over the last few months, we have spent a great deal of time developing a plan that best maximizes the state's investment in medical tourism and effectively leverages that investment with the private sector.

As a tourism and marketing company, VISIT FLORIDA hopes to successfully promote medical tourism the same way it has done with leisure travel, international marketing, meeting planning, etc.

We have taken the "crawl-walk-run" approach with this initiative to ensure that all necessary steps are properly carried out.

Our first priority was to develop criteria for our Medical Tourism Matching Grant Program, to which we allocated half of the total budget.

The grants will focus on traditional medical tourism, i.e. medical facilities, physician groups and specific destinations, as well as the recruitment of medical meetings and continuing medical education programs.

The deadline for grant applications was December 8, 2014. Now, we must promptly review the applications and grant awards in order to have money flowing into the marketplace by early 2015.

In the future, we plan to conduct several statewide initiatives to spotlight Florida as a medical travel destination.

Of course, we will also create a call-to-action website, and so on.

USDMT: Is VISIT FLORIDA working alongside specific employers or organizations to help manifest the campaign?

WS: We have appointed a task force, including physicians, hospital groups and destinations, to help position the State of Florida as a medical travel destination.

Our representatives reside in different locations around the state, and they have provided many great suggestions to help drive the process forward.

Also, we are contracted with the Florida Chamber Foundation, an organization that will help us plan a strategic long-term look at medical tourism in the state.

USDMT: Are you aware of any specific market demands for medical treatment in the State of Florida?

WS: At this point, we are not.

We have a lot of powerful anecdotal information from our major physician groups and hospitals, but we do not have any comprehensive data as we do with our traditional tourism metrics.

USDMT: What does the grant application look like?

WS: The grant application can be found online at: www.visitflorida.org.

There is a separate tab for grants, which has all of the information regarding our medical tourism grant program, criteria, requirements and frequently asked questions.

USDMT: Are there any other states following suit and opting for a medical travel initiative?

WS: From what I can tell, Florida is one of the first states in the medical travel marketing space.

We have built the foundation from the ground up, and have been lucky enough to receive great input and advice from individuals who have been involved with medical tourism for years.

USDMT: Is there a lot of support for a medical travel initiative statewide?

WS: I believe the healthcare industry in the State of Florida will embrace the initiative and become actively engaged in the development and strategic planning moving forward.

INTERVIEW: Lewis Levy, M.D., Senior Vice President, Medical Affairs, and Chief Quality Officer, Best Doctors


About Lewis Levy, M.D.
Dr. Lewis Levy provides medical leadership to the clinical operations team to deliver the highest quality clinical information on diagnosis and treatment to members and their treating physicians. He has over 20 years of clinical experience as an internist at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Boston. Dr. Levy also has an extensive teaching career through his role as a preceptor in the Internal Medicine Residency Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and also as an instructor at Harvard Medical School. He continues to practice primary care internal medicine, and has participated in pioneer ACO, HMO and FFS arrangements. Dr. Levy earned his medical degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and completed his Residency in Internal Medicine at the Graduate Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

About Best Doctors
Best Doctors connects physician communities with other clinical experts, ranked in the top five percent of doctors by impartial peer review, to help people get the right diagnosis and right treatment. The organization creates personalized care experiences by combining actionable data insights and medical excellence. Founded in 1989 by Harvard Medical School physicians, the global health solutions company, which has grown to over 30 million members worldwide, uses state-of-the-art technology capabilities to deliver improved health outcomes while reducing costs. Best Doctors seamlessly integrates its trusted health services with Fortune 1000 employers, insurers and other groups in every major region of the world. Gallup has certified Best Doctors as using the highest industry standards survey methodology and processes in polling physicians to discover the doctors they would choose for their own care.  For further information, visit Best Doctors at www.bestdoctors.com.

U.S. Domestic Medical Travel (USDMT): Give our readers some background on Best Doctors and how the company qualifies providers.

Lewis Levy (LL): Best Doctors is a global health company that brings together the brightest minds in medicine to help people get the right diagnosis and treatment plan. Best Doctors helps people overcome the terrible problems associated with medical uncertainty by providing access to the top five percent of physicians in over 450 specialty areas. Over 30 million members around the world have access to the service through their employer or health plan.

Best Doctors has been peer polling for more than 25 years, and we are the only group to be endorsed by the Gallup organization for the integrity of our list of the Best Doctors in America.

During the nomination process, we use a comprehensive process to survey, collect and analyze data that will help us determine the doctors that are most trusted and leaned upon to handle the most complicated cases in hundreds of different specialty areas. That process takes certain factors into consideration to avoid physician selections that are based solely upon a "popularity contest."

Much of a physician's data is known by the individual's practice partners, and we trust that the data known by the local medical community is an important determining factor when individuals are choosing who to nominate as a Best Doctor.

If an individual is selected as a Best Doctor in America, it means he/she has been identified within the top four to five percent of the medical profession. At Best Doctors, we believe this is a meaningful recognition within the profession of medicine, and helps us collectively overcome the rates of incomplete or missed diagnoses that we see today.

USDMT: Does being a Best Doctor hold any weight with the B2B community, for example: employers, brokers, health plans and insurance companies?

LL: Absolutely, the B2B community is an integral part of the Best Doctors mission. For over 20 years, Best Doctors has helped leading employers and health plans address productivity and cost concerns by working to ensure that employees or health plan members get the right diagnosis and treatment plan. Best Doctors also ensures that so much of the wasted spending we see today in healthcare is eliminated. Most importantly, we help members fight back against medical uncertainty and unnecessary suffering by quickly and efficiently working to get them the right diagnosis and treatment plan. Currently, over 30 million individuals worldwide have free and confidential access to Best Doctors services, and one of the core components is inter-consultation - a very in-depth medical review.

Inter-consultation allows individuals who are facing a situation of medical uncertainty to reach out to Best Doctors and receive a comprehensive physician review and clinical summary based on the patient's medical history.

The process works. In 2013, of the tens of thousands of cases Best Doctors reviewed, a change in diagnosis occurred in 34 percent of cases, and a change in treatment plan was recommended in 68 percent of cases. Real lives are being changed, thanks to this process.

USDMT: I am not sure that our audiences are aware of this. Please provide an example.

LL: For example, a patient may be informed of the need for a new aortic valve, but is left with questions about where to find top-quality care and doctors, and if the procedure is necessary in the first place.

Included in our comprehensive clinical summary is a 15-question form answered by a top-level expert. We have a physician service department connect the patient's case to an expert who can best answer questions about clinical utility. Upon completion, we forward the results back to the patient, as well as to his or her treating team.

We have found that through this process about one-third of initial diagnosis are altered, and nearly 70 percent of the time we make subset treatment recommendations.

Many leading U.S. companies have partnered with Best Doctors to provide our services to all of their employees at no additional cost to the employee.

Through this experience, we have also connected with many leading domestic medical tourism and travel programs that these aforementioned companies have set up for their work force.

For the past 26 years, I have practiced general internal medicine in the Boston metropolitan area and I am highly impressed by the impact our inter-consultation process has had on so many lives.

USDMT: Industry sources report that a fair amount of spine surgeries, joint replacements and cardiac care are unnecessary. Would you say that is accurate?

LL: I credit a lot of over utilization of procedures to regional variations and practice.

Best Doctors prides itself on providing independent and objective medical assessments, which is why many leading companies have elected our company to be a part of their employee benefits program or domestic medical tourism program offerings.

USDMT: Does Best Doctors adhere to any value proposition with regard to pricing?

LL: Absolutely. When Best Doctors is implemented as an employee benefit for a Fortune 500 company, we first receive a thorough understanding of each health plan partner associated with that company. This may include domestic medical travel opportunities and relationships that they have established with various transparency vendors.

We have also found that clinical integration with transparency vendors is significant because the vendors are in a great position to inform consumers about the cost of proposed procedures and accessibility to Best Doctor services.

USDMT: Does Best Doctors recommend specific institutions or locations for patient surgeries?

LL: If we deem a procedure necessary, we offer a Find Best Doctor Program, which provides individuals access to the expertise of doctors that are not only identified in the Best Doctors database, but also doctors who take that individual's insurance, are open to accepting new patients and have reasonable availability for their next appointment.

Best Doctors also partners with carriers that provide our solutions, and many carriers are increasingly moving into a world of value vs. volume.

USDMT: Is there anything about Best Doctors that you would like to add to help our B2B audience readily understand your model?

LL: Best Doctors has offices around the world, including offices in Massachusetts, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the U.K.

I've had the fortune of visiting most of our offices globally, and I can tell you that individuals are very interested in being able to get access to the top minds in medicine to verify the accuracy of their diagnosis and make sure that they are on the appropriate treatment path.

We also find that, in terms of changes in diagnosis and changes in treatment, we get very similar findings from our global population and domestic population.

Recently, Best Doctors announced the acquisition of Rise Health, a leading population health management company. The acquisition provides Best Doctors with even greater data integration and advanced analytics capabilities to combine actionable data insights and medical excellence. For our valued members, this means a personalized care experience based on your own unique needs, with local access to global medical expertise to help you get it right. Together with Rise Health, Best Doctors can further enable customized, impactful interactions with caregivers.

USDMT: What would be your advice on the growing Ebola outbreak?

LL: One of the most accurate and up-to-date sources of current information regarding the transmission of Ebola is on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) website.

The website is being updated daily as the CDC learns more about the transmissibility of Ebola and the best way individuals can protect themselves, and family members, from contracting the disease.

Florida Bolsters Pursuit of Medical Tourism
by Justine Griffin

Heraldtribune.com-Visit Florida announced the start of a new $2.5 million grant program aimed at helping Florida businesses promote the state as a medical tourism destination.

It is an estimated $60 billion industry that has been expanding aggressively in the U.S..

Using warm weather and state-of-the-art healthcare operations as leverage, the Sunshine State's tourism agency was able to secure money from the Legislature to promote Florida as a destination for a variety of procedures.

The funding is broken down into two grant types: one for medical tourism destination promotion and a second for medical meetings and training marketing.

Both grants are designed to help grow awareness of existing medical tourism centers and products in Florida and help persuade more medical conferences, meetings and training programs to host events here.

Business owners can apply for the grant now, with the application period closing on Dec. 8.
Each grant awarded will be matched by private dollars, Visit Florida representatives said.
In most cases, applicants must be a destination marketing organization, healthcare provider, medical center or physician.

"As a successful public-private partnership Visit Florida is well positioned to help leverage the state's investment with the private sector to increase medical tourism in the Sunshine State," Visit Florida CEO Will Seccombe said in a statement.

"The establishment of these grants is a tremendous first step in our strategic planning process to spotlight Florida's world-class doctors and facilities."

Every year 750,000 American patients and nearly $15 billion in domestic revenues go to other countries for medical tourism purposes, research by Florida TaxWatch found.

Meanwhile, more than 400,000 visitors spend about $5 billion in the U.S. for medical care each year.

In Florida, about 375,000 U.S. residents spend about $5.2 billion on medical services each year.

Visit Florida was able to allocate $5 million for the promotion of medical tourism in Florida during the 2014 legislative session.

That funding will go toward the marketing, research, partnership and website development for medical tourism in Florida. Entities partnering in the effort include the Florida Department of Health, the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, the Florida Chamber Foundation and Florida's Academic Cancer Center Alliance.

General visitation to the Sunshine State already has been booming: during the second quarter of 2014, more than 24 million visitors came to Florida in the April-to-June period, up by about three percent compared with the same period in 2013, VisitFlorida data shows.

Travel-related jobs were up by 3.9 percent during the quarter - a record high for the state, Visit Florida reported.

Copyright 2014, Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Reprinted by express permission of the Herald-Tribune Media group.

To view the original article click here.

Best Doctors, Inc. Acquires Rise Health to Accelerate Expansion of its Digital Health Solutions Focused on Helping People Get the Right Diagnosis and Treatment

Best Doctors, Inc., the global health company that brings together the best minds in medicine to help people get the right diagnosis and treatment plan, today announced that it has acquired Rise Health, a leading population health management company. The acquisition provides Best Doctors® with data integration and advanced analytics capabilities to add to its care management platform and expansion into new markets.

"For over 25 years, Best Doctors has been innovating to help employers and health plans ensure that their members combat medical uncertainty with access to the best medical minds," said David Seligman, chairman and CEO of Best Doctors. "With the acquisition of Rise Health and its robust software platform and application development team, we can take that medical excellence and turn actionable insight into personalized engagement to deliver the right care, leveraging Best Doctors' global delivery model."

Chicago-based Rise Health has built a comprehensive population health platform that develops intelligent, actionable data at a population level, and supports care delivery teams in taking action at the member level. The Company provides tools to help payers and providers manage the transition from fee for service to value-based care. Designed specifically for today's risk-sharing environments, Rise Health's sophisticated technology is intended for results. Through a vertically integrated product suite that includes Ascend Enterprise Platform, Stratus Population Health Analytics application and Cirrus Patient Relationship Manager, Rise Health offers a complete solution that enables clinical surveillance and improves operational processes. Together with Rise Health, Best Doctors has the ability to reach across all market segments with a combined solution offering analytic insights and medical expertise in an intimate consumer-centric experience.

Benefits of the transaction include

  • Enhanced Revenue Streams from Complementary Products

Rise Health adds significant and stable recurring revenue streams from its innovative suite of products. These include Ascend, a robust and highly scalable cloud platform that integrates payer, EMR, and other clinical data streams, as well as Stratus, a data visualization and analytics platform, and Cirrus, a healthcare focused CRM tool for providers to manage their patient populations. SAAS-based revenue from these products enhance recurring revenue from existing products and services for Best Doctors.

  • Talented and Accomplished Employees with Extensive Healthcare Research and Development Experience

Rise Health brings a dedicated, talented team of professionals whose healthcare knowledge and expertise has established Rise Health as a premier provider of software-based population health solutions. Part of this employee base includes research and development staff whose experience includes developing applications for emergency rooms at IBEX, Picis, and Optum. The result is an experienced research and development, support and services organization focused on delivering reliable and efficient data and analytics solutions to the healthcare industry.

  • Rapid Development Capabilities of Technical Intellectual Property

The Rise Health platform provides a highly secure cloud platform that scales to meet the requirements of the largest enterprises and integrates with major health plans and providers. The Rise Health Ascend platform brings together data from the entire healthcare ecosystem, including clinical, claims, and consumer, and combines it with internal data generated from use of Rise Health and Best Doctors applications. That database already includes highly acute and complex cases where Best Doctors has demonstrated a meaningful improvement on outcomes for the three percent of the population driving 40 percent of all healthcare spending in the U.S..

"Population health has so far been defined by data integration and analytics, but these alone don't improve quality and outcomes or lower cost," said Dr. Mark Crockett, CEO for Rise Health. "The combination of our companies really creates an exciting, new kind of healthcare enterprise - one that transforms insight into action."

Since its founding in 1989, Best Doctors has been changing the paradigm of how members experience healthcare. The company, internationally recognized as the industry-leader, has the most recognized and trusted database representing the best five percent of physicians in over 450 specialties and subspecialties of medicine, as determined by impartial peer review, and audited and certified by Gallup®. This collection of the brightest minds in medicine is integral to Best Doctors' ability to carefully analyze each member's entire medical history, ask all the right questions, and consult with its specialist experts who work with patients' treating physicians to reach the most accurate diagnosis and treatment recommendations. These steps alone have helped Best Doctors overcome many of the shortcomings in overburdened healthcare systems around the world.

The Company continues to expand its impressive portfolio of Fortune 500 clients and leading health plans, which represent some of the leading organizations in the nation when it comes to providing the right health solutions for their valued employees and members. These employers offer access to health services provided by Best Doctors as a valued employee benefit that Best Doctors seamlessly integrates with their other health-related benefits.

"Today's health system is fractured and time-strapped, leaving too many people confused about the right medical decisions as they navigate a giant healthcare maze," added Seligman. "Best Doctors and Rise Health have already had a massive impact upon the industry through an emphasis on innovation and a focus on improving health quality and outcomes. Together, we will be able to help employers, workers compensation clients, payers and providers transform the quality of healthcare they provide while reducing costs."

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Financial advisor for Best Doctors was Childs Advisory and legal advisor was Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati.

About Best Doctors, Inc.:
Best Doctors works with the best five percent of doctors, ranked by impartial peer review, to help people get the right diagnosis and right treatment. Gallup has certified Best Doctors as using the highest industry standards survey methodology and processes in polling physicians to discover the doctors they would choose for their own care. Founded in 1989 by Harvard Medical School physicians, the global health solutions company, which has grown to over 30 million members worldwide, uses state-of-the-art technology capabilities to deliver improved health outcomes while reducing costs. Best Doctors seamlessly integrates its trusted health services with Fortune 1000 employers, insurers and other groups in every major region of the world. For further information, visit Best Doctors at www.bestdoctors.com.

To schedule an interview with Best Doctors' Executive Team, contact Justin Joseph at Ph: 617.963.1156 or jjoseph@bestdoctors.com.

About Rise Health:
Rise Health provides payers, provider organizations and healthcare information technology partners with the tools necessary to achieve the "Triple Aim" of healthcare: Improve quality, Improve patient outcomes and Lower healthcare costs. Through a vertically integrated product suite that includes Ascend Enterprise Platform, Stratus Population Health Analytics application and Cirrus Patient Relationship Manager, Rise Health offers a complete solution that closes gaps and improves operational processes at the practice. To learn more, visit www.risehealth.com.
BEST DOCTORS, the STAR-IN-CROSS logo, THE REINVENTION OF RIGHT and CRITICAL CARE INTERCONSULTATION are marks or registered marks of Best Doctors, Inc. Used with permission.


Justin Joseph, Best Doctors, Inc.
Ph: 617.963.1156

Amanda Cecconi, Rise Health
Ph: 615.473.7536

Question of Access Looms As New Patients Gain Entrance
Patients Agree: America's 100,000 Physician Assistants Are Part of the Solution

With millions of new patients poised to enter the healthcare system, the question on many Americans' minds will soon be: "Will I have access to the healthcare providers I need?" Mounting evidence indicates that America's more than 100,000 certified physician assistants (PAs) are up to the task.

A recent online study of more than 1,500 U.S. adults, conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), found that 93 percent of Americans who have interacted with a PA (including those who have accompanied a loved one to see a PA) in the last year agree that PAs are going to be part of the solution to address a shortage of healthcare providers.

"As a workforce, PAs are extremely versatile and can adapt to the changing and growing healthcare needs in both primary care and specialties," said AAPA president John McGinnity, M.S., PA-C, DFAAPA. "It's simple math: When PAs are on the team, health systems are able to deliver high-quality care to more patients."

PAs also received top marks when it comes to patient satisfaction, with 93 percent of respondents who had seen a PA agreeing that PAs provide excellent patient service. In fact, more than one-third of Americans who have seen a PA in the last 12 months reported that their usual healthcare provider is a PA (36 percent).

The Affordable Care Act specifically recognizes PAs as primary care providers. PAs practice medicine and manage the full scope of patient care, including diagnosing and treating illnesses, writing prescriptions and assisting in surgery. PAs are educated at the graduate level, with most PAs receiving a Master's degree or higher.  

Over the course of their career, the average PA will have worked in two to three specialties. It is common for a PA to serve as the lead on care coordination teams and see patients in all settings without a physician present. In fact, in many rural and underserved areas, a PA may be the only provider, with physician collaboration occurring via telecommunication.

PAs are also one of the country's fastest growing professions, increasing by more than 200 percent over the last decade, as patients and the healthcare industry recognize and seek the added value PAs bring to the healthcare team.

Despite PAs' growth and versatility, there are still some legislative and regulatory barriers that limit their ability to practice medicine to the full extent of their education and experience. As more patients will require healthcare providers, it is becoming increasingly important to modernize laws and regulations to reflect the realities of today's PA practice. PA-positive changes are steadily occurring, with 48 states and the District of Columbia modernizing PA laws and regulations over the past two years.

"The bottom line is that PAs increase patients' access to high-quality care," said McGinnity. "And, overwhelmingly, the results show that patients trust us to do it."

About the Survey
The online survey was commissioned by AAPA and conducted by Harris Poll from September 15 to 22, 2014, among 1,544 adults ages 18 and older living in the U.S. (including an oversample of 680 adults who have seen a PA and/or have accompanied a loved one to see a PA in the past 12 months). For a complete methodology, including weighting variables, please contact AAPA.

About AAPA
Founded in 1968, the American Academy of Physician Assistants is the national professional society for PAs. It represents a profession of more than 100,000 certified PAs across all medical and surgical specialties in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories, with the exception of Puerto Rico. Since the profession's inception, PAs have also practiced within the uniformed services. AAPA advocates and educates on behalf of the profession and the patients PAs serve. It works to ensure the professional growth, personal excellence and recognition of PAs and to enhance their ability to improve the quality, accessibility and cost-effectiveness of patient-centered healthcare. Visit http://www.aapa.org and http://www.pasconnect.org to learn more. 

About the Harris Poll
Over the last five decades, Harris Polls have become media staples. With comprehensive experience and precise technique in public opinion polling, along with a proven track record of uncovering consumers' motivations and behaviors, Harris Poll has gained strong brand recognition around the world. The Harris Poll offers a diverse portfolio of proprietary client solutions to transform relevant insights into actionable foresight for a wide range of industries, including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant and consumer packaged goods. Contact Harris for more information.  

WellPoint Offers New E-Learning Tool on Global Medicine
Innovative resource highlights importance of applying clinical best practices worldwide

WellPoint, Inc., (NYSE: WLP) one of the nation's largest health benefits companies, today announced it has worked with Critical Measures, a national firm supporting cross-cultural healthcare, to offer an educational resource for physicians on the importance of a concerted approach to worldwide disease.

Recent events stemming from the Ebola virus have highlighted the need for physicians to know how to practice global medicine. Yet studies show that little curricula exist on this emerging clinical discipline, and many healthcare professionals in the U.S. have little formal training in the area.

In a proactive effort to help physicians in its affiliated health plan networks better understand the principles of global medicine, WellPoint worked with Critical Measures to make available a new e-learning resource that presents case studies and methods for applying evidence-based guidelines in a globally connected and mobile world.

Today, more than one billion people travel internationally each year. According to the National Institutes for Health, the need to practice global medicine stems from two major problems: increased exposure to diseases of foreign origin resulting from increased international travel; and the tendency to treat diseases sharing the same symptoms as having a domestic origin when they could have stemmed from a foreign origin.

WellPoint is pleased to offer Critical Measures' Viewpoints: Clinical Competence in a Globally Mobile World, an online resource developed with the input of Dr. Patricia Walker and Dr. William Stauffer, two nationally renowned medical specialists on immigrant health and infectious diseases. The course offers six interactive, cross-cultural patient case studies. Although each patient has similar symptoms - such as fever and flu-like conditions - the diagnoses are radically different. Through this online training resource, physicians are educated about how diseases of foreign origin could potentially affect a patient's diagnosis and subsequent treatment.

Viewpoints is the first continuing medical education (CME) accredited e-learning program in the U.S. on the subject of global medicine. It is accredited by the University of Minnesota's Continuing Medical Education Program and offers six hours of credit in Category One CME from the American Medical Association.

"We are grateful to have the opportunity to work with such a forward-thinking company like WellPoint," said David Hunt, president and CEO of Critical Measures. "They saw the need for this program long before the current concerns about Ebola appeared in the news. Now WellPoint affiliated health plan members can benefit from their physicians' new knowledge and skills."

Physicians in WellPoint's affiliated health plan networks can access the online course via the provider portals on the respective health plan websites.

"We've always been committed to promoting optimal care for our members, and in our increasingly connected world that means recognizing the importance of a global perspective on evidence-based, clinical approaches to illness, whether here in the U.S. or abroad," said Sam Nussbaum, M.D., and executive vice president and chief medical officer for WellPoint. "We embrace this opportunity to help educate healthcare professionals on how best to do that in the context of our extended global community."

About WellPoint, Inc.
WellPoint is working to transform healthcare with trusted and caring solutions. Our health plan companies deliver quality products and services that give their members access to the care they need. With nearly 69 million people served by its affiliated companies, including more than 37 million enrolled in its family of health plans, WellPoint is one of the nation's leading health benefits companies. WellPoint companies serve members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; and as the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensees for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as the Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as the Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), and Wisconsin. In most of these service areas, WellPoint does business as Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, or Empire Blue Cross (in the New York service areas). It also serves customers in other states through its Amerigroup, CareMore and UniCare subsidiaries. To find out more about WellPoint, go to wellpoint.com.

About Critical Measures, LLC.
Critical Measures is a national, management consulting and training organization that specializes in cross-cultural healthcare. Critical Measures has worked with leading American hospitals and health plans on issues of racial and ethnic disparities in the quality of medical care, language access for Limited English Proficient and deaf and hard-of-hearing patients and medical disparities resulting from globally mobile populations. Articles on its work have appeared in Health Affairs, the AMA News, Managed HealthCare Executive, the Hispanic Business Journal and Frontiers, the official magazine of the American College of Health Care Executives. In 2013, Critical Measures was selected by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association of America as its primary vendor for cultural competence consulting and training services. Visit Critical Measures online at: www.cmelearning.com

Source: WellPoint, Inc.
Brandon Davis, 804-366-3007
Critical Measures
David Hunt, 612-746-1375

To read the original release click here.

Aethlon Medical® Reports Rapid and Sustained Virologic Response Rates in Hepatitis C (HCV) Treated Patients

Aethlon Hemopurifier

Aethlon Medical, Inc. (OTCQB:AEMD), the pioneer in developing targeted therapeutic devices to address infectious disease and cancer, today reported final clinical outcomes, including rapid virologic response (RVR) and sustained virologic response (SVR) rates, in Hepatitis-C virus (HCV) infected individuals who received Hemopurifier® therapy during a clinical study conducted at the Medanta Medicity Institute in India.  Aethlon is now preparing to launch its first human clinical studies in the U.S..

The Aethlon Hemopurifier® is a first-in-class bio-filtration device that targets the rapid elimination of viruses and immunosuppressive proteins from the circulatory system of infected individuals.  The device is a leading broad-spectrum treatment countermeasure against viral pathogens that are not treatable with drug or vaccine therapies. In HCV care, the device is positioned to address antiviral drug resistance and hard-to-treat patients who are unable to tolerate normally administered doses of antiviral drugs or peginterferon+ribavirin (PR) therapy.  It is estimated that approximately 170 million people worldwide are infected with HCV, which leads to chronic liver disease or cirrhosis, and is a leading cause of liver transplantation.

In addition to reporting RVR and SVR rates, Aethlon disclosed that it achieved the following clinical objectives of the HCV study:

  • To demonstrate that Hemopurifier® therapy could be administered safely in non-dialysis patients who were infected with HCV.
  • To demonstrate the ability to combine Hemopurifier® therapy with an established therapeutic drug regimen.
  • To demonstrate that the brief inclusion of Hemopurifier® therapy can improve the normally expected benefit of a therapeutic drug regimen.
  • To establish an elution protocol that allows researchers to quantify the number of viruses captured within the Hemopurifier® during a single treatment.

In the study, HCV-infected individuals were enrolled to receive three six-hour Hemopurifier® treatments during the first three days of a 48-week peginterferon+ribavirin (PR) treatment regimen.  The study was conducted under the leadership of Dr. Vijay Kher at the Medanta Medicity, a multi-specialty medical institute established to be a premier center for medical tourism in India. Aethlon reported that Hemopurifier® therapy was well tolerated and without device-related adverse events in twelve treated patients.  Of these twelve patients, ten completed the Hemopurifier-PR treatment protocol, including eight genotype-1 patients and two genotype-3 patients.  Eight of the ten patients (n=8/10) achieved a sustained virologic response (SVR), which is the clinical definition of treatment cure and is defined as undetectable HCV RNA 24-weeks after the completion of the 48-week PR drug regimen.  Both genotype-3 patients achieved a SVR (n=2/2), while six of the eight genotype-1 patients achieved a SVR (n=6/8).

Of the ten patients that completed the full treatment protocol, five (n=5/10) also achieved a rapid virologic response (RVR), defined as undetectable HCV RNA at day 30 of therapy.  RVR represents the clinical endpoint that best predicts SVR cure rates resulting from PR therapy. As a point of reference, the landmark IDEAL Study of 3,070 HCV genotype-1 patients documented that 10.35% (n=318/3070) of PR treated patients achieved a RVR.  Patients that achieved a RVR had SVR rates of 86.2% (n=274/318) versus SVR rates of 32.5% (n=897/2752) in non-RVR patients.  Aethlon also disclosed that two of the genotype-1 patients who achieved a RVR also achieved an immediate virologic response (IVR), defined as undetectable HCV RNA seven days after initiation of Hemopurifier-PR treatment protocol.  The incidence of IVR was not reported in the IDEAL study.

Data from two patients was not included in the reported Hemopurifier-PR dataset.  One of these patients was a genotype-5 patient who discontinued PR therapy at day 180, yet still achieved a SVR.  The second patient was a genotype-3 patient who also achieved a SVR, yet was unable to tolerate PR therapy and discontinued therapy at day 90.  Overall, ten of the twelve patients (n=10/12) who enrolled in the study achieved a SVR and seven of the twelve (n=7/12) patients achieved an RVR. 

Aethlon further disclosed that it established an elution protocol during the study that allowed researchers to quantify the number of viruses captured within the Hemopurifier® during a single treatment.  As a result, researchers were able the measure that as many as 300 billion copies of HCV had been captured during a single six-hour treatment.

Aethlon is now preparing to launch the first U.S. clinical Hemopurifier® based on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA)'s approval of an Investigational Device Exemption (IDE). The study, which will be conducted at the DaVita MedCenter Dialysis in Houston, Texas, will contribute safety data to support the advancement of Hemopurifier® therapy as a broad-spectrum countermeasure against bioterror and pandemic threats and chronic viral pathogens such as HIV and HCV. Hemopurifier® therapy is available to treat Ebola patients in the U.S. through FDA expanded access "emergency use" provisions to address life threatening circumstances for which an alternative therapy is not available. At present, no antiviral therapy or vaccine has proven to be effective against Ebola virus infection in humans.   

About Aethlon Medical, Inc.
Aethlon Medical creates targeted therapeutic devices to address infectious disease, cancer and neurodegenerative disorders.  The company's lead product is the Aethlon Hemopurifier®, a first-in-class device that selectively targets the rapid elimination of circulating viruses and tumor-secreted exosomes that promote cancer progression.  Exosome Sciences, Inc. is a majority owned subsidiary that is advancing exosome-based products to diagnose and monitor cancer, infectious disease and neurological disorders.  For more information, please visit http://www.aethlonmedical.com and connect with the Company on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.

Certain statements herein may be forward-looking and involve risks and uncertainties.  Such forward-looking statements involve assumptions, known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Aethlon Medical, Inc. to be materially different from any future results, performance, or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Such potential risks and uncertainties include, without limitation, that the ESI will not be able to commercialize its future products, that the FDA will not approve the initiation of the Company's clinical programs or provide market clearance of the company's products, future human studies whether revenue or non-revenue generating of the Aethlon ADAPT™ system or the Aethlon Hemopurifier® as an adjunct therapy to improve patient responsiveness to established cancer or hepatitis C therapies or as a standalone cancer or hepatitis C therapy or as a broad spectrum defense against viral pathogens, including ebola, the Company's ability to raise capital when needed, the Company's ability to complete the development of its planned products, the Company's ability to manufacture its products either internally or through outside companies and provide its services, the impact of government regulations, patent protection on the Company's proprietary technology, the ability of the Company to meet the milestones contemplated in the DARPA contract, product liability exposure, uncertainty of market acceptance, competition, technological change, and other risk factors. In such instances, actual results could differ materially as a result of a variety of factors, including the risks associated with the effect of changing economic conditions and other risk factors detailed in the Company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings. The Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

Leah-Michelle Nebbia (for interviews requests)

James A. Joyce
Chairman and CEO
(Office) 858.459.7800 x301
(Cell) 619-368-2000

Jim Frakes
Chief Financial Officer
858.459.7800 x300

To view the original release click here.

Vitals Lists Six Common Consumer Healthcare Surprises
Transparency tools and incentive programs help consumers avoid healthcare pitfalls

Unlike holiday presents, health information shouldn't be a surprise. However, many Americans experience unwelcome frustration when looking for care - from the search for quality doctors to unexpected medical costs.

Vitals, a leader in providing online transparency tools and data, helps consumers find top doctors and make informed decisions about their medical care. Today they released a holiday-themed infographic that looks closer at six common surprises that consumers experience as they navigate the healthcare system.

Concealed information - Detailed cost and quality information about medical care is hard to find and access.

Price Differences - Depending on the facility, the price for the same procedure can be 500 percent more. The University of California San Francisco found that an appendectomy in the state could cost anywhere from $1,529 to $182,955. Those price fluctuations happen across the country. Indeed, most patients don't know they can save thousands of dollars just by driving to a different town.

Limited Access - The average American is waiting 19.5 days to see a doctor, according to Merritt Hawkins' 2014 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times. The introduction of narrow network plans also limits consumer access to physicians.

Complex systems - When it comes to health literacy, the Urban Institute's Health Policy Center found that 80 million Americans find it hard to interpret health information. Gaps in literacy can make choosing the right health plan more difficult and an even lead to poorer health outcomes.

Fewer doctors - According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, 45,000 more primary care physicians are expected to be needed by 2020. Many doctors are opting to go further with their education and specialization, leaving fewer primary care doctors to oversee the general population.

Poorly designed tools - While many health plans offer online cost estimators, only two percent of consumers are utilizing them, says reports from Catalyst for Payment Reform.

"There's no doubt that the consumer experiences too much shock and awe when it comes their healthcare," said Mitch Rothschild, CEO of Vitals. "Better structured tools, information and incentives that engage are needed for consumers to avoid pitfalls and navigate a health system that is placing more of the cost burden on consumers."

High-deductible health plans are the fastest growing health benefit plan. While HDHPs keep premiums low, deductibles and out-of-pocket limits can be steep. In a recent Vitals survey, 42 percent of people worry about medical bills, despite having insurance.

"Light is coming to the dark and confusing corners of the healthcare marketplace," said Rothschild.

"Transparency and incentive tools that Vitals develops for its websites and health plan partners are putting information into the hands of consumers to help them make more informed decisions about their medical care. We're entering a new era where there will be a more deliberate and thoughtful consumption of healthcare. The result will lead us towards a less wasteful, more efficient healthcare system."

About Vitals
Vitals is reinventing the way people shop and save on their medical care. We support effective decision-making through cost, quality and access data, as well as reward and incentive programs. Vitals leads the market with the first transparency and engagement platform that achieves measurable savings for consumers through a retail-like approach to purchasing healthcare services. Through health plans, hospitals and our leading consumer websites, Vitals helps more than 150 million people each year access better, more affordable care.

Follow us on FacebookLinkedIn or Twitter.

Rosie Mattio, 917-583-6349

See the related infographic here.
To view the original article click here.

"The Medical Travel Show" Launched by Stackpole & Associates and Medical Tourism Training on the UR Business Network

Podcast interviews of thought leaders in the international medical travel sector now available online

Woburn, Massachusetts: Stackpole & Associates and Medical Tourism Training launch "The Medical Travel Show" on the UR Business Network. International medical travel pioneers Elizabeth Ziemba and Irving Stackpole have joined forces with UR Business Network, a dynamic distributor of Internet content to develop, produce and distribute "The Medical Travel Show," a serial podcast of interviews with global thought leaders in the international medical and wellness sectors.

The concept was introduced on MYOB, a globally syndicated business podcast, as co-hosts Stackpole and Ziemba discussed the purpose and general framework of the program. "People are curious about international medical travel. We hope to connect with the full range of audiences - from providers to business to consumer - to present accurate information and dispel some of the misconceptions about medical tourism," said Elizabeth Ziemba, president of Medical Tourism Training Inc. She added, "Our plan is to create a truly inclusive forum by engaging business people and consumers from the entire sector."

Co-hosts Irving Stackpole and Elizabeth Ziemba

According to Irving Stackpole, president, of Stackpole & Associates, and editor of Marketing Medical Tourism, "International medical travel is important for many reasons - economic, clinical, ethical, legal and educational to name just a few. We will delve into all of these issues to create vigorous dialogue among healthcare providers, governments, governmental agencies, accrediting agencies, universities and educators, as well as patients and consumers."

Josef Woodman

The show's featured guest is Josef Woodman, CEO of Patients Beyond Borders, and one of the sector's serial innovators and authoritative voices. 

"The Medical Travel Show" invites listeners to access on-demand interviews from experts including Susie Ellis, I. Glenn Cohen, Keith Pollard, and Pramod Goel, to hear about the trends, issues, and hot topics from this growing international phenomena. 


Tune in to "The Medical Travel Show" at http://urbusinessnetwork.com/category/medical-travel-show.

About Medical Tourism Training, Inc.:
Medical Tourism Training, Inc. offers research-based, results-oriented training and consulting services to the individuals and organizations involved in the rapidly growing international health travel sector.  Whether conducting research to find practical, experience-based solutions to growth within the sector or delivering training to improve the patient and customer experience while driving the bottom line, the company is the first to market affordable, convenient, and easy to use eLearning solutions. Medical Tourism Training delivers high quality, multi-lingual on-site and on-line training and consulting services including healthcare research designed to create measurable change for its clients. Visit www.MedicalTourismTraining.com for more information about the company.

About Stackpole & Associates, Inc.:
Stackpole & Associates, Inc. is a marketing, market research, customer service and sales training firm. Since 1991, the firm has applied scientific marketing principles to develop practical solutions to clients' challenges.  Using the most rigorous psychological and behavioral science research, Stackpole & Associates develops methods and designs that produce unimpeachable data yielding reliable, actionable recommendations. Stackpole & Associates works collaboratively to create innovative and practical solutions to the challenges facing organizations in rapidly changing markets. Visit www.stackpoleassociates.com for more information about the company.

About UR Business Network:
Founded in late August, 2012 UR Business Network launched their Internet radio stream in mid-November the same year. UR Business Network is the brainchild of 20-year multimedia marketing veteran Sergio Garcia and serial entrepreneur Rick Brutti. Internet radio had already proven to be a growing industry and their combined entrepreneurial expertise has made them uniquely suited to build an online radio station streaming 24/7 with business specific programming. Visit http://urbusinessnetwork.com/ for more information about the company.


Medical Tourism Training, Inc.
Elizabeth Ziemba, JD, MPH, President

Stackpole & Associates, Inc.
Irving Stackpole, RRT, M Ed, President


GE Will Steer Workers to Northwestern Memorial for Hips and Knees
by Bob Herman, Originally published on Modernhealthcare.com

November 24, 2014 - An agreement between the prominent Chicago hospital and one of the largest employers in the country is yet another example that self-insured companies want to work more directly with high-quality health systems for certain procedures.

To read the original article click here.

1.3 Million Adverse Events Prevented in U.S. Hospitals Since 2010, Feds Say
by Sabriya Rice, Originally published on Modernhealthcare.com

December 2, 2014 - The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates that 1.3 million fewer patients were harmed in U.S. hospitals from 2010 to 2013 amid focused and widespread efforts to reduce surgical-site infections, adverse drug events and other preventable incidents.

To read the original article click here.

Ambulatory Healthcare Services on the Rise: 10 Statistics
by Tamara Rosin
Becker's Hospital Review is the original producer/publisher of this content

Beckershospitalreview.com-Receipts totaled $825.7 billion for the 582,733 ambulatory healthcare services establishments in the U.S. in 2012, a significant 23.5 percent increase from 2007, according the U.S. Census Bureau's latest analysis.

To view the original article click here.

Price Transparency: Where is it headed?
by Ron Shinkman

Fiercehealthfinance.com-The proliferation of medical options, the general consumerization of healthcare and higher out-of-pocket costs for patients put a greater demand on providers to be more transparent about prices and costs to patients.

To view the original article click here.

Help Save a Life and Support MatchingDonors
100 percent of all donations on MatchingDonors.com go to help people get organ transplants on MatchingDonors.com.

MatchingDonors is a 501c3 nonprofit organization and the nation's largest online living organ donor organization finding living organ donors for people needing organ transplants.  In conjunction with various health organizations throughout the United States we have created a very successful Public Service Announcement campaign to help people recognize that they can save lives by being a living organ donor, to encourage them to register as an altruistic living organ donor, and to make them realize they can help save the lives of people needing organ transplants by donating other things. This MatchingDonors Living Organ Donor Initiative program has already saved thousands of lives.

Do you know of any available job openings relative to the U.S. domestic medical travel industry? We encourage readers to submit any available, relevant job opportunities along with its descriptions and requirements for fellow readers and industry professionals to consider. All submissions are appreciated.


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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

Will Seccombe, President and CEO, VISIT FLORIDA®

Lewis Levy, M.D., Senior Vice President, Medical Affairs, and Chief Quality Officer, Best Doctors

News in Review

Florida Bolsters Pursuit of Medical Tourism

Best Doctors, Inc. Acquires Rise Health to Accelerate Expansion of its Digital Health Solutions Focused on Helping People Get the Right Diagnosis and Treatment

Question of Access Looms As New Patients Gain Entrance

WellPoint Offers New E-Learning Tool on Global Medicine

Aethlon Medical® Reports Rapid and Sustained Virologic Response Rates in Hepatitis C (HCV) Treated Patients

Vitals Lists Six Common Consumer Healthcare Surprises

"The Medical Travel Show" Launched by Stackpole & Associates and Medical Tourism Training on the UR Business Network

GE Will Steer Workers to Northwestern Memorial for Hips and Knees

1.3 Million Adverse Events Prevented in U.S. Hospitals Since 2010, Feds Say

Ambulatory Healthcare Services on the Rise: 10 Statistics

Price Transparency: Where is it headed?

Help Save a Life and Support MatchingDonors