Industry's First Survey of North American Medical Tourists Commissioned by WorldMed Assist

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In the medical travel industry's first in-depth survey of patient experiences with medical tourism, WorldMed Assist discovers interesting results about who travels for international health care, why they travel , what savings motivate them, how they compare the quality of care overseas with care at home, and how they rate companies that help arrange international treatment.

People with full health care coverage will still be interested in medical travel in order to get access to world reknowned specialists and surgeons. People with partial health insurance would be motivated to go abroad for treatment by cost savings.

People from the U.S. and Canada are leaving their country for medical care, and they come back happy. Very happy.

When respondents were asked to compare care they received in a U.S. hospital with their international experience, there was no contest: Of those who had completed a medical journey, twice as many rated their international care as superior. Weighing heavily in this assessment was the care and attention they received from their international medical team, and the extensive array of pre-op testing.

Respondents gave very high satisfaction scores to the professional skill, experience and competency of their medical team and to the quality of their treatment facility. As testament to their overall satisfaction, 98 percent would consider offering a recommendation of going abroad for medical care to others in a situation similar to theirs.

To better understand why North Americans choose to have medical procedures done in a foreign country, medical tourism company WorldMed Assist commissioned the industry's first in-depth survey of North American patient experiences, querying over 1200 people who'd contacted the company in the last year. The response rate was over 12 percent. The on-line study was conducted during August 2008 by marketing research expert Right Hand Research.

Survey results clearly point to the need to change the "medical tourism" moniker for the industry: People are overwhelmingly interested in the quality of their medical care, and rank tourism activities a very low priority.

While it was no surprise that a majority of respondents have no medical insurance at all or weren't covered for the procedure they were researching, what was surprising is that a relatively low level of savings would motivate them to consider international health care: Nearly 15 percent would be satisfied with a savings under $5,000, and over half fell under the $10,000 mark.

"In a country like the U.S. where a hip replacement costs $54,000, such savings can easily be achieved," said WorldMed Assist CEO Wouter Hoeberechts. "Hip replacement in India,for instance, would save a patient more than $40,000 -- including travel and lodging costs, and would be performed by surgeons at the top of their field, in a facility patients rate as five-star."

Although saving money is the primary motivation to engage in medical tourism, credentials of the medical team abroad is the clear determinant for choosing a destination for treatment.

The study also evaluated the performance of medical tourism companies who are clearly doing a good job in facilitating medical travel. These companies, such as WorldMed Assist, connect patients with highly qualified hospitals and doctors, obtain medical evaluations, arrange logistics and advocate on patients' behalf throughout their journey. The overall satisfaction with medical tourism companies was 95.7 percent.

The study dispels the myth that arranging aftercare is a significant issue associated with medical travel: only two respondents that completed their trips reported this as a concern.

"Evidence of high satisfaction rates in this study will encourage more businesses and insurance companies to continue adopting medical tourism as part of their employee benefit plans," projects Hoeberechts. "People with full health care coverage will still be interested in medical travel in order to get access to world reknowned specialists and surgeons. People with partial health insurance would be motivated to go abroad for treatment by cost savings."

Click this link to purchase a copy of the medical tourism survey 2008.

About WorldMed Assist:
Experts in medical tourism, WorldMed Assist's mission is to improve lives by helping patients receive high quality medical treatment abroad at affordable prices. WorldMed Assist coordinates and simplifies every aspect of care and travel. Surgeries abroad such as cardiac procedures abroad, transplants, hip resurfacing in India, hip replacement, and knee replacement overseas are significantly less expensive than in the U.S., yet delivered with the same or higher quality care and results as set by U.S. standards. Waiting times are virtually eliminated, track records are proven, and facilities are state-of-the-art.

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Robbie Neely
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