Well-Being Travel Conference 2012
Insights into forces affecting medical tourism, including the increasingly global nature of healthcare and major trends in how healthcare is funded and delivered, will be shared by two experts at the upcoming Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference.
Sean Sullivan and Deborah Love of the Institute for Health and Productivity Management (IHPM) will both be presenters at the Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference 2012, scheduled for June 20 to 21 at the Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Healthcare a ‘global phenomenon’
The presenters’ focus will be on the forces behind medical tourism – “the phenomenon of global healthcare,” said Sullivan, IHPM president and CEO and a former Washington-based health policy analyst.
“We will present a global view of the various approaches that countries take to healthcare,” Love said. “Although the network of healthcare is very global, it is approached very differently by each country.”
Founded in 1996, IHPM focuses much of its research on the connection between healthcare and workplace productivity.
It has conducted research in various countries, including Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Peru and Chile, according to Deborah Love, executive vice president and international liaison.
China eyes med tourism
An increasing number of countries are eager to become medical tourism destinations, Sullivan noted.
“More countries want to become leaders in certain medical specialties, recognizing the potential for economic revenue,” he said.
China is likely to be the next country to step into the arena, according to Sullivan. “Right now China is feeling left out, as they see more people heading to Thailand and India for treatments. China definitely wants to get in on this.”
Future of healthcare
The core of Sullivan’s presentation will be four trends that he sees influencing the future of healthcare funding and delivery. He believes they will also have an impact on medical tourism.
#1. Shift to ‘human investment’ model
Rather than strictly looking at curing diseases and alleviating symptoms, governments and corporations will view healthcare investment as a means to improving employee productivity, according to Sullivan.
Good health will be recognized as a benefit for both the workplace and, by extension, the national economy, he said.
“The shift is to what we call the human investment model; the health of individuals is looked on as part of their human capital,” he said. “Employers and countries have an economic reason to invest in better health, because it will pay off with better productivity.”
#2. More individual responsibility
Many countries, regardless of their wealth or how advanced their healthcare systems are, will place increasing responsibility on individuals for their health status and cost of their healthcare.
“This is an imperative, as social insurance models will not have enough money to pay for everyone’s illness in an aging population,” Sullivan said. “As a result, the individual will be more responsible for staying healthy and will share in more of the cost of being unhealthy.”
This will give people more incentives for staying free of chronic diseases that are the result of poor lifestyle choices, he added.
“Better health is the only real cure for spiraling costs,” he said.
#3. Empowerment through technology
Technology will make it increasingly easy for people to take responsibility for their own healthcare, according to Sullivan.
“More aspects of healthcare will be transferred from the hospital to the home setting, as technologies make it easier for people to take care of themselves and even administer their own health care,” he said.
“For instance, people testing their own blood glucose levels can transmit the information and then take the medications they may need.”
#4. Personal data will drive healthcare investment
Funding for medical treatments increasingly will be allocated for those that benefit the most people, according to Sullivan.
“We will be able to figure out in advance who the people are that will most benefit from a certain treatment. Treatments that only help a small number of people will not be funded as much as those that can help a large number of people.”
One major implication for medical tourism is that people will be motivated to seek out places where the particular treatment they need is not being ignored, Sullivan noted.
Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference