GHA Makes an Impact at the 10th World Medical Tourism Congress – Los Angeles, California

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Karen Timmons Global Healthcare Accreditation

The Global Healthcare Accreditation® (GHA) program made its presence felt at the 10th World Medical Tourism Congress held in Los Angeles, California between October 2 – 4, 2017. The event is the most prestigious international healthcare conference and tradeshow in the industry bringing attendees from across the world to collaborate and advance the industry. Healthcare providers, insurance companies, governments, employers, wellness companies, and medical tourism facilitators are just some of the many stakeholders who came to network, learn and share best practices in medical travel, employer benefits and corporate wellness.

4 Healthcare Facilities on Three Continents Achieve Accreditation by GHA

On October 3rd, Karen Timmons, CEO of the GHA Program presented one of the opening keynotes: “The Clarion Call for Excellence: A New Era of Health Consumers,” which focused on the new era of consumerism, propelled by rapidly evolving technology which has dramatically impacted consumer experience. According to Ms. Timmons, “The seamless level of service that consumers have begun to expect has expanded to healthcare, providing greater demands and opportunities for payers and providers to go beyond the expected “satisfaction” to deliver patient experience excellence. Healthcare organizations must focus on ensuring the patient experience is seamless throughout the entire medical travel care continuum, including pre-admission and post-discharge, and that business functions that support medical travel are designed with this in mind. GHA accreditation validates and facilitates excellence in patient experience and sustainable business practices.”

Immediately following her keynote, Ms. Timmons presented award plaques to representatives of three healthcare organizations attending the congress whom had recently achieved Global Healthcare Accreditation by the GHA Program, and announced a fourth. Dr. Erik Fleischman, International Medical Director, accepted on behalf of Bumrungrad International Hospital (BIH) in Thailand; Dr. Nizar Zein, Chairman Global Patient Services, accepted on behalf of Cleveland Clinic Ohio; and Mr. Rafael Carrillo, Managing Director, accepted on behalf of My Spine Center of Clínica Santa Clarita, in Mexico. St. Catherine Specialty Hospital of Zagreb, Croatia, also achieved Global Healthcare Accreditation for Medical Travel Services by the GHA Program.

The GHA Program also sponsored or hosted a number of sessions at the congress including:

The 6th Medical Director Summit “Destination Medicine”

This three-hour summit was an invitation-only event attended by approximately 50 Medical Directors and Chief Quality Officers representing hospitals from around the globe, as well as several insurance companies. Ms. Karen Timmons and six expert speakers presented on the latest trends and challenges in destination medicine and the development of global medical networks. The summit began with a brief welcome by Ms. Timmons, followed with a speech by Mr. Sammy Refua, President of Prive Care, Co-sponsors of the Medical Director Summit.

The first invited speaker was Dr. Peter Angood, President & Chief Executive Officer, of the American Association for Physician Leadership. Dr. Angood gave a lively presentation titled “Developing Physician-Leaders in Medical Travel.” Highlights included managing change, medicine vs. leadership, and leveraging leadership competencies. Dr. Ziad Abdulhak, Senior Medical Advisor, United Arab Emirates Embassy, followed with a discussion on “Key Strategies for Building a Quality Global Medical Network.” Among the strategies he highlighted were factors such as quick access to treatments, international office efficiency, medical center dedication to international patients and servicing their medical needs, cultural competency and the ability to coordinate logistical support. Nizar Zein, MD, Chairman, Global Patient Services, Cleveland Clinic offered a candid look at “lessons learned” from Cleveland Clinic’s recent expansion to Abu Dhabi including impact on population health and challenges related to quality management, partnerships and safeguarding brand reputation. Dr. Eric Fleicshman, International Medical Director, Bumrungrad International Hospital, outlined how Bumrungrad’s efforts to provide Western level medical care resulted in: reverse brain drain, extreme advancement in surgical techniques, rapid advancement in cancer treatment capacity and implementation of Western Quality Assurance programs and certifications. Dr. Ron Leopold, Chief Medical Officer at Lockton Benefit Group provided an insightful and change of pace with his topic: “Five Trends in Health & Wellness and How Employers Should Respond.” Dr. Leopold’s presentation dealt with trends in medical costs, wellbeing, productivity and healthcare delivery. The last speaker was Dr. Omar Shalabi, Division Head, Central & Western Regions Population Health, Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare. Dr. Shalabi provided attendees with a detailed look at the unique challenges faced by Jordan in its quest to deliver a high quality patient experience in medical travel. In closing, Ms. Karen Timmons commented on some key takeaways from each presentation and then concluded with a brief overview of the GHA program.

In addition to the 6th Medical Director Summit, GHA leadership participated in several other sessions including:

Driving Quality and Savings with Employer Direct Contracting

Moderated by Ms. Karen Timmons, this session looked at buyer and provider perspectives on direct contracting as well as future trends, opportunities and challenges. The exceptional panel consisted of:

 Mr. Rob Stall, Executive Director of International Operations at Cleveland Clinic,
 Mr. Jerry Fiala Director, Sales & Marketing at Cleveland Clinic and
 Mr. Chip Burgett, Managing Director at Quandary Healthcare Solutions.

Mr. Rob Stall began his presentation with a summary of Cleveland Clinic’s global footprint and international initiatives – particularly in the United Arab Emirates. Mr. Jerry Fiala followed with a look at Cleveland Clinic´s direct contracting initiatives in the U.S., focusing on the benefits to providers which included “offering top-ranked heart care to employees, access efficiencies and savings, predictable bundled case rate, and avoiding variability in outcomes.” Mr. Fiala also highlighted the patient experience as a key component of Cleveland Clinic’s value proposition to employers. Mr. Chip Burgett closed the session with some recommendations for employers considering direct contracting. Mr. Burgett emphasized focusing on “quality measures,” “member engagement” and “minimizing reliance on Preferred Provider Organizations” as important factors to consider when direct contracting with providers.

Medical Destination Reputation Management: How a Single Interaction Can Impact Your Brand

Moderated by Ms. Karen Timmons, the expert panel included Dr. Erik Fleischman, International Medical Director of Bumrungrad International Hospital; Dr. Maan Fares, Vice Chairman of Global Patient Services for Cleveland Clinic, and Mr. Mohammed Al-Hameli, Director of International Patient Care Division of the Abu Dhabi Department of Health. This session focused on how the patient experience and good outcomes lie at the heart of a successful destination strategy in medical travel and what key components provide successful risk management. Transparency, focusing on patient-centered care and having a plan in place to deal with unexpected public relations’ emergencies were some of the key points highlighted in this session. Ms. Timmons stated, “As we have witnessed the past year in the airline industry, reputations can be tarnished instantly in this age of 24/7 social media. Healthcare organizations cannot be complacent and must be prepared to proactively manage their reputations through a keen focus on patient experience, good clinical outcomes and risk management strategies.”

Accreditation in Medical Travel and its Impact on Operational Excellence

This session gathered a panel of representatives from healthcare facilities recently accredited by the GHA Program to discuss their unique perspectives about the GHA Standards, the accreditation process and the value of earning Global Healthcare Accreditation. Mrs. Mary Miller Sallah, GHA’s Chief Quality Officer, moderated the session and began by highlighting GHA’s focus on the patient experience across the entire medical travel care continuum and sustainable business process as key differentiators of the GHA program. She then encouraged panelists to discuss specific ways in which the accreditation process had impacted their organizations. Dr. Erik Fleischman, International Medical Director of Bumrungrad International Hospital commented, “GHA was particularly fitting for our institution as it is the only accreditation that helps assure quality care from the time a patient leaves their home to the time they return after medical care. We are a great hospital. We are even better after GHA.” Dr. Vanessa Felix, Medical Director of My Spine Center of Clínica Santa Clarita stated, “GHA has helped prepare our clinic to anticipate our traveling patients’ needs and expectations, ensuring we provide an exceptional experience before, during and after their visit.” Mr. Kevin Edwards, Nurse Practitioner at Cleveland Clinic, Ohio said, “No matter how great your healthcare facility or positive the procedure outcome, if you mess up on the cultural sensibility required of medical travelers you risk degrading the entire patient experience.” Towards the end of the session, Dr. Somporn Kumphong, CEO of Healthcare Expert Group of Thailand (and a Regional Representative for the GHA Program in Thailand and Japan) spoke about his interactions with hospital leaders in Thailand and discussed the gap in the patient experience, particularly before and after treatment as a challenge for internationally accredited facilities in Thailand.

Final Thoughts

During the congress, GHA Program leadership met with representatives from many healthcare facilities and governments interested in learning more about the GHA program. There was much curiosity and interest in understanding how GHA fit within the context of other international accreditations. GHA Program leadership explained that “GHA Standards complement existing national and international clinical and quality accreditation programs. While these programs traditionally focus on the clinical aspects of care for the entire organization, GHA conducts a deep review of a medical travel program, such as an International/ Global Patient Services program).” There were also some keen discussions regarding key challenges in the industry which GHA strives to address, such as consensus on definitions, data collection and engaging diverse stakeholders to ensure an optimal patient experience for medical travelers.

Mrs. Karen Timmons summed up her impressions about the 10th World Medical Tourism Congress with these words: “Through the sessions we hosted and the many one-on-one meetings with healthcare providers, the congress provided an ideal venue for the GHA Program to showcase its value proposition to a wide international audience. We are very enthusiastic about the interest expressed in the GHA Program and working with the many organizations we met in Los Angeles who expressed interest in streamlining their medical travel care continuum, enhancing patient experience and improving sustainable business practices.

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