BB&T

Transmarx (Richmond, Virginia), under the umbrella Consumer Health World, has scheduled an International Medical Tourism Conference, its second, Dec. 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Washington DC.

The conference reflects the rapid growth of the medical tourism sector, Skip Brickley, CEO of Transmarx, told Biomedical Business & Technology.

"About a year ago we became aware of the escalation of international medical centers trying to provide access to U.S. patients."

The company did a medical tourism conference "test run" in May in Las Vegas. He termed the event "very successful" and that his company was then approached by industry representatives who said it needed to be a major U.S. event.

Brickley said that 60-70 international medical centers are expected to attend, with about 20 of them exhibiting to highlight their offerings. As one example, Parkway Health (Singapore), a conference sponsor, will be giving a 30-minute demonstration showcasing the capabilities of its hospitals in Singapore. "Singapore is actively trying to pursue international patients," Brickley said. Consumer Health World also has signed up all the medical centers in Panama through its board of tourism.

Although the centers will be highlighted on the exhibit floor, the conference program will focus more on the issues surrounding medical tourism.

"[We're] trying to spend a significant amount of the focus on the pre- and post-procedure continuum-of-care," Brickley said. "Who does the patient work with before going abroad? What about follow-up care? There are unknown factors here," he acknowledged. "People don't know if this is safe." Thus, the conference will examine the economics of medical tourism and look at healthcare quality, U.S. and overseas.

"Most of these international facilities reaching out for U.S. patients are state-of-the-art, with Western-trained physicians," Brickley asserted. "About 25% of our [medical] graduates are now going abroad in medical specialties. We're trying to recognize or address any stigmas or barriers [to medical tourism] as part of the programming," Brickley said.

Other conference topics will include key travel and insurance issues and the logistics of health records from the U.S. to international destinations.

Conference officials are trying to attract people from the employer side, he said, such as human resource executives, insurance providers and anyone with an interest in the subject, including med-tech companies.

"There's a huge opportunity for medical device manufacturers [at the conference] in the area of clinical trials on a global basis," Brickley said.

More conference information is available at www.consumerhealthworld.com.

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