Why it EMTC2011 a key momentum for the industry? Challenges and objectives.
The EMTC2011 is bringing together the international community of medical travel for a yearly convention. Every year the challenge is to follow up with the speed of innovation which is typical for this fast growing industry. Medical tourism is coined not only by improving constantly offers for medical quality, integrated solutions and cost opitimization, but follows also touristic trends. This year the trend is Spain and the EMTC2011 taking place in Barcelona sets the framework.
What needs to be done by the sector to adapt to the new EU Directive on Patient Mobility?
This question is on the agenda of the conference. We are lucky to have won excellent and high reputable speakers to approach the answer. With the interaction of the audience I am sure that the conference can at least show the direction and clarify the basic steps and future projections which are associated with this very complex matter. We have 2 or even 3 years to go until all the details may have been worked out.
What has to be done by the healthcare private/ public service to develop this regulation?
The healthcare industry needs to raise their voice. They are the ones who realistically can look into the practicality of the requirements which are been posed by new legislations on them. In the end we all should look at the customer of these activities, which is the patient and the tax payer in one person. We will continue to provide the EMT conferences as being a platform where experts and entrepreneurs meet politics and regulatory bodies. Only an intergrated and moderated discussion will bring us the success.
Will the EU Directive on Patient Mobility affect all countries the same way? Advantages and disadvantages.
The countries with the more advanced healthcare systems may become the destinations of cross-border healthcare patients, in case the cost regulations do not restrict the selection. On the other hand insurance companies may look more actively to regions in Europe where the medical quality of their homeland is matched, but the cost level is much lower than in the source country. What we will see will also be many conflicts and a lot of lobbyism from doctors and hospitals to win this market and to stick to old regulations and networks. We therefore appreciate very much that the European Medical Association, representing the professional medical associations in Europe is involved in our discussions.
In particular, what are the repercussions that such a new measure could bring to a country like Spain?
Spain has one attractive advantage which is the touristic part of the game. Patients follow by tradition touristic or business patterns when they are travelling. Many elective treatments need a recovery period which can be much nicer or convenient in a touristic ambiente than at home or in an outdated institution. The patients is selecting the best opportunity for himself.
Will it bring problems of reimboursement, as some experts advise?
It will – but I think that this pressure to solve the reimbursement problems can bring a lot of progress in Europe and make us aware of the advantages and disadvantages of the problems we have stored and frozen in our healthcare systems by overloads due to tradition. The world has become mobile everywhere. We should see the directive as a starter for a much bigger discussion: how to pave the way for an integration of the healthcare systems in the EU, one which would allow all patients to be treated on the highest level of quality. Health is not negotiable.
Does it raise ethical or juridical problems ? Recently Mr. Francisco Sevilla, Councelor for Health at the EU Permanent Representation of Spain said: ‘We have worked for the definition of the european right, and what has been approved is not sustainable from an ethical and juridical point of view’ What do you think?
I think the patient rights have to be won still, but the directive is a corner stone and it opens at least many doors. Now its the time of those who want to pursue the ethical and juridical saftey to push things in this direction. We are at least one important step further.
Can the pre authorization create problems?
Of course. Which commission, with transparent and equally followed criteria can do this job? How practical will their implementation be? Also I see the self determination of patients in danger here. All patients in Europe should have one thing of which we in Germany are very proud and which was an essential factor in the development of a self regulating high quality system. This is simply the right of the patient to select his doctor by his own free will without risking not to be treated. Of course the self funded and privately insured patient has advantages to realize this right. It should be a standard for everybody.
Positioning of the providers in the Middle East in the global market. The case of Dubai Health Care City. The development of regional centres and clusters used in the Northern European countries to provide high quality medical treatments.
The art of creating and managing a medical cluster has still to be invented. The well working clusters we see in the European scenario are the result of three main factors:
- a long lasting tradition in medical education and the presence of excellent research and scientific background
- the interdisciplinary interaction with medicine, medical and non-medical technologies, inventors and innovators
- the strong will of the Western mindset to achieve results in the fight against disease
Are there in Spain any similar initiatives?
I have no idea.
The growing Chinese market. EMTC has partnered with Chinese Medical Tourism Association. The sleeping giant in the world healthcare scenario.
What we assume is that China enters also this market of medical tourism with a strategic perspective. China has the money, the power and the mindset to acquire systematically key factors in this industry and make it work for them. The world in five years will see China even as a preferred destination for medical travellers for selected procedures. They have the capacity to make offers with which we can hardly compete. But I see the EU cross-border healthcare system also in some way as a protection against the trend of a too strong commercialization of medical services.