Carl Pfeiffer – Medical Tourism
This Bumrumgrad hospital in Bangkok, Thailand is revolutionizing the world of medical tourism. This hospital is a for profit, “5 star hospital” that specializes in nearly every single medical and healthcare specialty. With the effects of globalization it allows patients around the world to “outsource their own healthcare”. Basically this concept means that if someone has an ailment they need worked on they have a choice to go to any medical tourism facility (like Bumrumgrad) to have world-class treatment. In order for medical tourism facilities to earn the international patient’s business they need to provide not only the best healthcare, but also treat each person with the same treatment as a 5 star hotel would do. This facility is mostly for “at will” patients who specifically seek out medical care from this facility. The depreciated Thai Baht makes medical procedures so much more affordable that people come to Bumrumgrad and pay cash to have procedures done, from plastic surgery, to orthopedic surgery, to general surgery.
Part of the amazing guest service experience the hospital has, is that it provides world-class concierge services that starts by picking up the patient from the airport, and escorts them to the hospital. The concierge also waits hand and foot on the patient, catering their every need. Even things like running their prescriptions and finding activities and accommodations for friends and family that are staying with the patient.
In the US the reason medical care is so costly is because the expenses that providers and medical companies have to pay are estimated to be $600 billion dollars a year. This cost is covered because it is passed on to the patients and insurance providers. So a standard surgical procedure like a cholecystectomy, plus a night or two in the hospital will cost between $15,000- $30,000 in the USA. Compared to Thailand where the patient can have the same procedure, and stay in one of the nice hospital suites (which looks more like a hotel room then a hospital room) for around $2,000-$3,000 US dollars. This is also explaining that the quality of care is almost the same between Thailand and the USA.
Bumrungrad was the first Asian hospital accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI), the international arm of the organization that reviews and accredits American hospitals. Their checklist includes over 350 standards, for everything from surgical hygiene and anesthesia procedures to the systems in place to credential medical staff and nurses. JCI sends a team to re-review hospitals at 3-year intervals. Bumrungrad was first accredited in 2002, re-accredited in 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2014. So when I questioned the quality of care and patient outcomes I was quickly educated that the have almost the same level of quality that we do in the US. This is in part do to most of the doctors were educated and trained in the US and have come back to Thailand to give the US level of care to their patients.