Ophthalmology Business

DEC 2017

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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by Liz Hillman, Ophthalmology Business Staff Writer Medical tourism in have increased almost ninefold from a low base in the early 2000s." 2 In 2013, this translated to $3.3 billion spent in cross-border exports, com- pared to $1.6 billion spent in 2003. Imports for medical tourism resulted in $1.4 billion in spending in 2013, compared to $168 million in 2003. The largest providers of health ser- vices on the global medical tourism market, according to the brief, are Thailand, India, and Singapore. Medical tourists are seeking quality care, reduced wait times, and/or procedures that might not be available in their home country, according to the executive brief. According to Patients Beyond Borders, the top categories for med- ical tourism are cosmetic surgery, dentistry, cardiovascular surgery, orthopedic surgery, reproductive treatments, weight loss surgery, and other testing, screening, and second opinions. Though ophthalmic procedures are not necessarily on the top of ophthalmic space, both for outbound patients leaving the U.S. to pursue procedures elsewhere as well as inter- national inbound patients. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines medical tourism as the act of someone traveling to another country for the expressed purpose of receiving some sort of medical care. 1 Patients Beyond Borders estimates that 1.4 million Americans engaged in medical tourism in 2016, but Mr. Woodman admitted that there are few reliable sources of medical tourism data. Stats quoted by Mr. Woodman and Patients Beyond Bor- ders come from government health ministries, hospitals and clinics, and accreditation agencies. According to a 2015 executive briefing from the U.S. International Trade Commission on "Trends in U.S. Health Travel Services Trade," "exports (i.e., travelers coming to the United States) have doubled and imports (U.S. travelers going aboard) Ophthalmologists discuss treating patients outside their home countries J osef Woodman, found- er of Patients Beyond Borders, a publisher and purveyor of information about medical tourism for international health ministries as well as consumers, was recently in Mexico, a few miles from the border and Yuma, Arizona, on business. While there, he was surprised by the number of vision clinics he saw, he told Ophthalmology Business. "We are seeing a rising trend for what I call the incidental medical traveler, one who is going to travel anyway and seeks light medical care while on the road," Mr. Woodman said, noting that this medical care is usually minimally invasive with predicable outcomes and short recov- ery periods. There are some who see an op- portunity for medical tourism in the 12 Ophthalmology Business • December 2017

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