On May 14th and 15th, a diverse group of medical travel stakeholders descended on Athens, Greece to network and discuss the latest trends in European and global medical travel. Sponsored by Cigna and Athens Medical Group, and organized by Global Healthcare Resources, the European Medical Tourism Congress attracted participants from around the globe including governments, insurers, employers, medical travel facilitators and healthcare and wellness providers who took full advantege of two days of intense networking, educational sessions and even a hospital site visit. While most participants hailed from Europe, the Middle East and CIS countries, there were also some high-profile attendees from several African nations, the U.S. , and Thailand.
European Medical Director Summit
The Global Healthcare Accreditation (GHA) Program was invited to host the European Medical Director Summit on the first day and two educational sessions on the second day. The former was moderated by GHA’s Chief Executive Officer Ms. Karen Timmons and included presentations and panel sessions featuring representatives from Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, Johns Hopkins International, European Union of Private Hospitals, Athens Medical Group and Saudi Enaya Cooperative Insurance Company. The summit featured lively discussions between panelists, moderator and the audience members on a number topics including the European directive on Cross border healthcare, patient experience, interoperability of healthcare data in medical travel, emerging medical technologies, and how to build a reputation of clinical excellence – from both a provider and insurer perspective.
A highlight of the conference – apart from the fact that it was located in the alluring city of Athens, were the many netwotking opportunities available. In fact, the congress was billed as a B2B and B2G event and it did not disapoint. At almost all hours of the day the compact exhibit hall and adjacent networking area were a hive of activity as participants introduced their businesses and, in many cases, dicussed potential collaboration opportunities. Other meetings took place in a more casual setting by the hotel pool, within easy reach of liquid refreshments and traditional Greek hors d’oeuvres. GHA leadership engaged in back-to-back meetings with healthcare providers, governments, insurers, facilitators and others interested in learning about the GHA program.
On the second day of the conference Karen moderated a session titled “Accreditation in Medical Travel Driving Patient Excellence,” which featured GHA’s Thailand representative and representatives of European Interbalken Medical Center and Prince Sultan Cardiac Center Alhassa, both hospitals having achieved GHA accreditation within the last month.. Each of the participants provided insight into how GHA accreditation was enhancing the patient experience across the medical travel care continuum in their organizations or regions. Immediately following this session, Bill Cook, GHA’s Director of Business Development and Marketing moderated a panel session titled “Positive Disruptive Change: The Trifecta of Quality of Care, Patient Experience & Cost Saving, which included representatives from SpainCares (healthcare cluster), Garmco (employer), and C3 Medical (facilitator). The panelists highlighted several points including: key indicators or attributes that are important when choosing a healthcare provider for members or clients, the importance of rigorous screening to ensure patients are candidates for medical travel, how cultural and language competency impacts the patient experience, and new technologies that are lowering healthcare costs.
The congress ended on a high note on the evening of the second day, with buyers treated to a spendid rooftop networking dinner within view of a glowing Acropolis located just a few hundred meters away. For GHA, one of the big highlights of the event was the announcement by a GCC-based insurer that it would seek to contract with GHA accredited organizations, thus providing added value to GHA accredited organizations
The medical travel industry is not static. New trends and developments are occurring around the globe which impact healthcare quality, patient experience, and the volume and direction of patient mobility. These may include domestic policies, economic climate, political stability, insurance portability, new technologies, travel restrictions and even cultural preferences. To stay abreast of these developments, one must keep informed and connected to medical travel stakeholders in different regions of the world. GHA looks forward to participating in other events around the globe with the goal of collaborating with leading industry stakeholders, sharing best practices and professional norms, and ultimately improving the patient experience for medical travelers.
*Medical travel is also commonly known as medical tourism or health tourism.