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What drives patients to medical tourism destinations


Find out what drives patients to international destinations for treatments and what these destinations provide.

Travelers from other countries, including the United States, are journeying to facilities like Health City Cayman Islands to receive affordable, quality medical care. “More savvy patients and employers as well as insurance networks are starting to consider medical treatments and procedures abroad,” says Chandy Abraham, CEO and head of medical services at Health City Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. “Patients are drawn to the advanced medical technologies, access to specialty treatments, better quality of service, and shorter waiting periods.” Beautiful beaches and a Caribbean-style vacation add to the appeal.

What medical tourists want

Health City Cayman Islands attracts patients from the island, the Caribbean, the United States, Canada, and Latin America. Most patients come from other Caribbean countries, given the proximity. North Americans travel to the Cayman Islands to realize cost savings in healthcare while those from Latin America have been drawn to the facility by numerous Health City humanitarian outreach efforts to children from poorer families.

While international health insurance is accepted at Health City, many patients must pay out-of-pocket. “A growing number of insurance providers and self-insured employers in the United States are exploring destination healthcare as part of the coverage,” Abraham says.

“It is our hope that the wider insurance industry will soon recognize the tremendous value that facilities like ours has to offer and make it easier for policyholders to get the coverage needed to maintain optimum health,” he says. “Not only will it result in savings for employees and employers, but the insurance industry will reap savings as well.”   

When looking to travel abroad for medical care, patients do their research. “They seek highly-skilled and experienced medical professionals who go through extensive training and ongoing education,” Abraham says. “They seek validation for the facility and the medical treatments provided, which is why Health City’s Gold Seal of Approval from the Joint Commission International is incredibly valuable.”

Furthermore, they want creature comforts to allow them to heal, translator services, and menus that are culturally sensitive and meet a variety of dietary needs.

Next: What tourists find



What they find

Health City Cayman Islands was born from the vision of internationally-renowned heart surgeon and humanitarian Devi Shetty, MD, in conjunction with its partner, U.S.-based Ascension-the nation's largest faith-based and nonprofit health system.

Most patients come specifically to Health City for orthopedics, spine surgery, minimally invasive gastrointestinal surgery such as bariatric surgery, and advanced cardiology including electrophysiology and cardiothoracic surgery because it is difficult to access such care quickly and inexpensively elsewhere, Abraham says.

The facility’s doctors and specialists are international healthcare leaders in their respective fields of adult and pediatric cardiology, cardiac surgery, orthopedics, sports medicine, spinal surgery, neurosurgery, weight-loss surgery, minimally invasive surgery, medical oncology, pulmonary care, and pediatric endocrinology.

Patients are treated as guests at the tertiary care hospital. By using best practices, infection prevention protocols, and evidence-based techniques, the facility has attained high-quality global rankings, including infection rates that are lower than most U.S. hospitals. The modern facility incorporates visual tactile and sensory healing elements.

Health City incorporates and develops best practices in a continuous learning environment. Soon, it will have a training center, an assisted living facility, and a hotel onsite.

Karen Appold is a medical writer in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.

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