Healthcare tourism with dominican quality

Healthcare tourism with dominican quality

Healthcare tourism is a business on the rise worldwide. Based on data by the Medical Tourism Association (MTA), this industry generates 100,000 million dollars a year, grows on average 35% annually and absorbs 2.5% of international airplane ticket demand.

In the Dominican Republic, this sector is also in the throes of expanding. According to a report by the Observatorio Político Dominicano (the Dominican Political Observatory or OPV for its acronyms in Spanish), the nation receives on average 20,000 visitors a year in search of medical care.

Economist Juan Pérez Osorio, author of the aforementioned report, stated that the most often sought-out services by foreign tourists are son dental, invasive cardiology procedures, fertilization, bariatric procedures and aesthetic surgeries.

Apart from the world-class clinical services infrastructure, certified professionals trained in Europe and The United States and a powerful tourist industry, a core advantage for the development of healthcare tourism are the lower costs of procedures and treatments.

For example, a valvuloplasty (the surgical repair of a cardiac valve) in the United States costs 140,000 to 160,000 dollars, while in the Dominican Republic it can be done for 25,000. A bone marrow transplant in North America costs between 180,000 to 200,000 dollars and in the Dominican Republic it can be done safely and with the best clinical quality for about 30,000.

A facelift costs 15,000 to 20,000 dollars in the United States but in the Dominican Republic it could cost around 6,500, including accommodation, meals and transport.

“In our nation, medical tourism is not a new phenomenon. It has been practiced for over two decades, above all in general and plastic surgeries and other procedures. But it was spontaneous and informal, devoid of a structure to support the entire value chain of this industry”, said Dr. Alejandro Cambiaso, president of the Dominican Healthcare Tourism Association (ADTS for its acronyms in Spanish), the institution leading and coordinating the consolidation strategy for this activity in the nation.

Cambiaso gave us a bird ́s eye view of the sector: “healthcare tourism is a growing reality in our nation, since we have great competitive advantages such as an excellent cost-effectiveness ratio, a favorable geographic location and climate, macroeconomic stability and social peace. We attend above all patients from the Caribbean islands, Dominican nationals who live elsewhere and also citizens from the United States, Canada and other nations. Plastic surgery and orthopedic procedures, executive medical check-ups, ophthalmological procedures, dental and cardiovascular procedures, weight loss plans, urology, infertility treatments, oncology and many other services are completed with an absolute level of excellency since we have high-quality human and technical teams”.

THE SERVICE PURVEYORS

One of the key aspects for the development of healthcare tourism is the certification of the service purveyors. The objective is for all the services received by visitors to be of the highest international standards.

The ADTS has designed a set of stringent certification criteria that include authorization by the ministry of public health; verifiable international certifications issued by wellknown competent entities and all hospital centers and clinics must have a department of international medicine, offering comprehensive services to the patients and their companions.

Additionally, the centers must have duly trained care and administrative staff; must offer only procedures with guaranteed effective and excellent response; have protocols in place to guarantee clinical information confidentiality and count on top-rate infrastructure among other characteristics.

The association has developed a profile to certify doctors, demanding competencies that complement their specialized medical training such as being bilingual, for example.

The competition is fierce and for this reason the Dominican Republic is prepared to offer top-notch services.

Healthcare tourism is an industry of sustained expansion. For the Dominican Republic the window of opportunity is very broad because the market trend has changed decades ago, and now the basic receptors are developing nations. In fact, the leader in healthcare tourism is Mexico, with 450,000 foreign patients per year.

Additionally, the centers must have duly trained care and administrative staff; must offer only procedures with guaranteed effective and excellent response; have protocols in place to guarantee clinical information confidentiality and count on top-rate infrastructure among other characteristics.

The association has developed a profile to certify doctors, demanding competencies that complement their specialized medical training such as being bilingual, for example.

The competition is fierce and for this reason the Dominican Republic is prepared to offer top-notch services.

Healthcare tourism is an industry of sustained expansion. For the Dominican Republic the window of opportunity is very broad because the market trend has changed decades ago, and now the basic receptors are developing nations. In fact, the leader in healthcare tourism is Mexico, with 450,000 foreign patients per year.

Another country that stands out in the region is Costa Rica, that on average receives 48,000 foreign patients annually and Cuba which officially reported 22,000, but the OCDE indicated in diverse reports that that number could possibly be 200,000.

To put the business in perspective, we must point out that 85% of medical tourism comes from the United States and Europe.

According to Deloitte, it is expected that in 2017, American citizens spend at least 228,000 million dollars in medical care abroad. Based on data by the UN ́s Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), medical tourism moves more than 9,000,000 Europeans, generates 75,000 million euros in annual revenues worldwide and the forecast up to 2020 is a 90% increase in healthcare and wellbeing-related travel.

THE INITIATIVES

The Dominican Healthcare Tourism Association (ADTS for its acronyms in Spanish) has developed the first guide on healthcare tourism endorsed by the MTA, to promote the nation as a duly certified medical tourism destination.

The agency has also entered into a series of alliances to consolidate the industry ́s institutional base. For example, the consular section has already been incorporated to these promotion tasks.

Of note are also agreements among purveyors such as the one subscribed by Pawa Dominicana and the Centers for Advanced Diagnosis and Medicine and Medical Conferences and Telemedicine (Cedimat for its acronyms in Spanish), backed by the Marriott hotels chain to set up comprehensive medical services packages for the Caribbean and the Antilles.

This agreement in particular opens a potential market of 20 million tourists for the Dominican Republic.

“Healthcare tourists take into account attractive prices, accessibility and the quality and security of the offer. We must bear in mind that the patient ́s experience involves the entire value chain: accessible airports, transportation, medical centers, hotels and effective means of communication, so therefore medical tourism requires the State ́s commitment”, Cambiaso quipped.

RECOMENDATIONS

Amelia Reyes, vice-president of the Dominican Health Tourism Association (ADTS for its acronyms in Spanish), insists that it is important to bear in mind a series of recommendations for the optimal enjoyment of the nation ́s medical-tourist services.

In the first place, Reyes indicated that one must seek accredited healthcare centers and verify that the clinic or healthcare center has the ADTS ́ quality seal.

For health-related recuperation processes, Reyes likewise suggests not dismissing specialized recuperation centers or hotels certified by the association. “Recuperation is generally a delicate process and one must make sure that it is completed in optimal conditions”, Amalia Reyes pointed out.

The ADTS also has a certified transportation agency for transfers to or from the clinical centers in a safe and professional manner.

“It is very important for the patients to bring their full medical reports to the Dominican Republic so that the selected medical center can conduct all the necessary checkups and validations. Our intention is to offer the best certified quality assurance in every procedure”, Reyes concluded.