For former travel agent Maria K. Todd, serving the medical travel niche means coming full circle in a multifaceted career.
Todd is founder and CEO of Mercury Healthcare, a Denver-based globally integrated healthcare delivery system. This year Mercury Healthcare added a full-service travel agency – Mercury Health Travel – as well as a Travel Assistance operation.
Mercury Health Travel plans to serve the “unmanaged health travel space” via its full-service travel agency. It’s part of its strategy to integrate healthcare globally in a way that “no healthcare company has done before,” Todd said.
From travel to health care
Todd's career path seems to make her uniquely suited to deliver healthcare globally and serve health and medical travel clients.
Her first step on that path was in travel. Todd’s first job out of high school was with AAA Travel in Florida. “I went up the ranks in domestic travel and became senior travel counselor for the East Florida Division of AAA Travel,” she told Travel Market Report.
The seeds for her career progression were sown during her years as a AAA travel counselor, when she also served as a volunteer firefighter and paramedic.
She liked the EMT work so much that she went back to school, completed her undergraduate studies and went on to become a surgical nurse and earn her masters in health administration. That led Todd to working for HMOs focusing on managed care contracting.
“Things started to morph from there,” Todd said. She became a certified health care paralegal and was named a mediator in disputes between payers and providers because of her clinical and administrative experience.
In 1987, Todd started her first health services consulting firm, AskMariaTodd, which eventually became Mercury Global Healthcare. Today, Mercury Global Healthcare has provider networks in all 50 states and Puerto Rico and more than 30 countries.
Insider knowledge an asset
Among Todd’s assets is her knowledge of different aspects of the healthcare industry, and she knows travel on top of that.
She plans to leverage her own expertise, along with the expertise of the 36 consultants on the Mercury staff, to design the services that Mercury Health Travel will provide.
“We have travel people, destination management people, hospital administrators, airline people with TUI (a vertically integrated travel company in Germany), and doctors. The physicians we have are global in their approach, because they have worked around the world,” she said.
Todd decided to open Mercury Health Travel because of her frustrations finding a travel agency with the expertise to handle the special air transportation, logistics and accommodations needs of Mercury clients traveling for medical procedures – both outbound and inbound.
She has also created medical travel training program for travel agents. (See “Former Agent, Now Health Exec, Develops Training for Agents,” Travel Market Report, March 17, 2011.)