Ophthalmology Business

MAY 2013

Ophthalmology Business is focused on business topics relevant to the entrepreneurial ophthalmologist. It offers editorial, opinion, and practical tips for physicians running an ophthalmic practice. It is a companion publication of EyeWorld.

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Medical tourism: Increasing revenue by Michelle Dalton Contributing Writer Traveling for eye surgery becoming more common; here's what you need to know B y definition, "medical tourism" is when an individual's primary reason for travel is to secure healthcare abroad. In the European Union, a 2007 survey indicated 4% of citizens sought medical treatment in a different country than their own, and estimates suggest there may be anywhere from 600,000 to 5 million people actively traveling for medical purposes.1 For some, shorter waiting times may be the primary reason; for others, it may be an opportunity to combine a vacation with a surgery most individuals consider "basic," such as LASIK, said Jonathan Edelheit, chief executive officer, Medical Tourism Association (MTA), West Palm Beach, Fla. Almost 8% of U.K. residents who participate in medical tourism sought LASIK (dentistry and cosmetic procedures were the top two treatment areas; LASIK was third). More than 27% of U.K. residents wanted to combine their vacation and surgery/treatment. In the U.S., those figures are much smaller, with only 3.4% of medical tourists seeking ocular surgery, but almost 10% of those in the 46- to 55-year-old range sought eye surgery.2 Thousands of patients come to the U.S. every year because "they believe they're getting the best doctors with the best experience," Mr. Edelheit said. According to Patients 12 Beyond Borders, the top 10 destinations for medical tourism are Brazil, Costa Rica, India, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey, but countries like China, United Arab Emirates, and the U.S. (including Puerto Rico) Ophthalmology Business eZine • May 2013 are also becoming more popular destinations. Healthcare standards of the destination country and cost of treatment are by far the two most important factors for U.S. residents when choosing a medical tourism destination.

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