Medical tourism is a hot topic these days. Providers and payers worldwide both see multiple benefits in offering or arranging medical treatments across borders - however it’s the patient’s demand for better quality at lower costs that continue to drive medical tourism’s growing popularity. As a result, many domestic medical providers have begun to lose patients and ultimately revenue and market share.
Corporate-Sponsored Medical Tourism VS International Medical Tourism
Recently, a team of UK-based researchers looked further into the feasibility behind “International Medical Tourism” and just how cost-effective it really is. There research revealed three underlying myths associated with the idea of medical tourism:
- The number of patients who seek treatment through medical tourism is rapidly rising;
- National governments play a large role in stimulating medical tourism through high-tech investments; and
- Opportunities for growth into the medical tourism sector are restricted to international services only.
Furthermore, most of the data surrounding medical tourism has been captured and encouraged by already-interested parties.
On the flip-side, for healthcare parties that may lose revenue and market share to international medical tourism, an alternate offering exists – Corporate-Sponsored Medical Tourism.
What is Corporate-Sponsored Medical Tourism?
Corporate-Sponsored Medical Tourism works very similar to a hospital-system that is utilized only by a contracted employer and its employees. A group of participating providers will partner together in conjunction with the employer to form an Employer Center of Excellence Network and agree to a fixed fee or bundled payment for the entire episode of care.
For the patient, or employee, they no longer have to worry about out-of-pocket costs, transportation to and from facilities, and an accompanying caregiver. Patients and employees living in rural areas can gain access to quality medical facilities that may traditionally be viewed as out-of-network or out-of-area.
For the employer, immediate savings may come in the form of cheaper treatments, but they’ll see greater savings in the long-run through the reduction of hospital-incurred infections or complications; unnecessary revisions and diagnosis; and employees getting back to work quicker than anticipated.
While the benefits for employers and their employees can be easily measured, corporate-sponsored medical tourism is touted to have an even bigger effect on achieving the overall goal of healthcare reform – transparency & price.
The idea behind this corporate-sponsored form of medical tourism and essentially payment reform is to better mold the current healthcare landscape to the needs of small, medium and large employers. Corporate-sponsored medical tourism could generate new forms of competition allowing regional providers to compete with the larger health systems that have begun to emerge.
The system seeks to further its impact by aligning itself with medical centers that offer specialty treatments. Through such a system, employers or groups of multiple employers can manage the relationships amongst their own hand-picked, contracted network of providers, monitor cost and behavior drivers, and ultimately create a transparent healthcare system.
Corporate-sponsored medical tourism is becoming a very popular alternative to traditional PPOs and is saving large national companies, such as Lowes and Walmart, money that would originally have been spent on out-of-network costs or even sending its employees across borders to seek care.
To learn more about how corporate-sponsored medical tourism can help your business, or if you’d like to hear about PayerFusion’s alternatives to traditional PPOs, subscribe to our monthly Health Insights newsletter here.