Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Medical tourism - coming to your town?

I was searching for the misspelling "penhandle" and ran across a page that (at least currently) includes this misspelling. This page, created by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, not only includes the word "penhandle," but also includes the words "eventhough," "internatiional," and airlines such as "America Airlines" and "Contiental Airlines."

However, the people reading that particular page may not have noticed.

This page was intended for foreigners coming to the United States (preferably to the University of Alabama at Birmingham) for medical procedures - otherwise known as "medical tourists."

I had certainly heard of medical tourism before. If you fly America Airlines or Contiental Airlines - whoops, I mean American Airlines and Continental Airlines - you'll see ads in their magazines that speak of U.S. medical facilities that cater to foreigners. It works the other way around also - many Americans go to other countries for medical procedures. Some of these Americans are very rich and seek the best (or most private) treatments; others are very poor and seek services that they can't afford in this country.

I didn't realize that the University of Alabama at Birmingham catered to foreign clientele. A family member was associated with the University in the 1970s, but I don't know if he performed operations for rich Brazilians. However, UAB is listed at an online medical tourism website.

Over 100 U.S. facilities are listed at that website. To my surprise, I found a listing for San Antonio Community Hospital in Upland, California. As you can guess from the name, this hospital caters to the local community; I couldn't see rich Brazilians flying to Ontario Airport and seeking services at that hospital. But the hospital apparently caters to this clientele:

If you do not speak English, or if you have a hearing or speech impairment, you may have interpretation services provided for you at no extra charge. Tell the person helping you that you need an interpreter. A list of languages for which assistance may be obtained is available in all departments of the Hospital.

San Antonio Community Hospital doesn't provide all of the procedures available in Birmingham, but they do offer a number of procedures such as heart surgery, chemotherapy, and treatment for brain tumors.

Perhaps YOUR local hospital is trying to secure business from patients in other countries. It's certainly an area for possible growth.
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