More American citizens now travel to Singapore not just for leisurely travel but to receive healthcare as well. PlanetHospital, a medical tourism company established in 2002, expects to be able to send up to 20 patients to Singapore every month in 2010. At the moment, PlanetHospital has already sent 20 patients to Singapore.

Singapore is among the top medical tourism destinations in Asia. It continues to rise in popularity in the medical tourism industry. The country is visited by about 40,000 medical tourists every year. Singapore aims to get as much as 1 million patients to travel annually to by 2012.

PlanetHospital has works on sending about 3,000 patients overseas every year to receive top-notch medical services from overseas hospitals. According to the company’s director for public relations and marketing Geoff Moss, the company has experienced a 200% growth in business compared to last year’s figures.

Patients visit Singapore for a wide range of health care services. Patients travel to the country because of the state-of-the-art facilities of the hospitals in the country as well as the medical innovations that are performed in the country (e.g. stem cell surgery). Many patients travel to Singapore for treatments of heart ailments, cancer, obesity and surgeries such as knee-replacement surgery.

Patients that go to Singapore to receive medical treatments are usually those with no medical insurance; they usually pay out of their own pockets and by traveling to Singapore, they can save as much as 70% and that already includes the traveling and accommodation expenses in Singapore.

Major Cebu hospitals are ready to compete with international hospitals in medical tourism. This is according to Oscar Tuason, the president of the Cebu Health and Wellness Council. The council sees the accreditation guidelines of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) as enough to prove that the hospitals are capable of catering to medical tourists. The group believes that the Philhealth assessment book is at par with the international standards.

While Tuason acknowledges the importance of getting international accreditation, the group headed by Tuason belives that the satisfaction of the customers is what will help push the medical tourism industry in Cebu, Philippines higher. According to Tuason, ““There is no bigger accreditation than patients telling their friends about the services they received in Cebu”. The group also believes that it is important to promote the services of Cebu hospitals abroad.

The Cebu Health and Wellness Council is a group of private and government institutions whose goal is to promote Cebu as a top medical tourism destination in the world. Aside from world-class medical facilities, Cebu also has world-class tourism destinations that foreign patients will enjoy. Another advantage of Cebu over other medical tourism destinations is the cost. “We offer First-World facilities and services at Third-World prices,’ Tuason said. He added that Cebu is capable of competing with the world’s best hospitals when it comes to basic medical services as well as specialty treatments such as eye treatments, heart procedures, and orthopedic cases.

According to a report posted by the International Medical Travel Journal (www.imtjonline.com), the Medical Tourism Association, a non-profit association has taken legal action against the International Medical Travel Association. The MTA is an association that was incorporated in Florida while IMTA is a non-profit association that is registered in Singapore. The MTA has taken legal action against IMTA for trade name infringement and unfair competition. The case was filed in a US District Court.

According to the IMJT report, the IMTA sees no reason why their organization would be singled out when there are many more associations that have been registered with MTA in them. Some of these organizations include the Asian Medical Tourism Association and the Indian Medical Travel Association.

The report also quoted a statement released by IMTA President to its members. According to the statement quoted, IMTA President Ruben Toral said, “The IMTA was clearly the first organization of its kind to serve the medical travel industry; there are over half a dozen associations with medical tourism in their name; and the organization is not engaged in any commercial activity whatsoever.”

The International Medical Travel Association was registered in October 2006 in Singapore while the Medical Tourism Association was incorporated in May 2007.

The official statement reads, “It is unclear why the MTA singled out the IMTA, whose officers and board members perform their duties on an unpaid, voluntary basis.  Several attempts were made to settle this issue amicably, but were unsuccessful and the continuous threat of litigation made it difficult for the organization to carry out meaningful initiatives around quality, liability and continuity of care.”  

According to a new study, new techniques for hip and knee replacements seem to require more repeat surgery than older methods. According to a study published in the journal of PLos Medicine, one out of 75 people who have undergone hip and knee replacement surgeries usually requires follow-up surgery three years after the original procedure. But those who have undergone procedures called hip resurfacing and unicondylar knee replacements have a higher rate of follow-up surgeries than those who underwent older surgery procedures.

The study covered close to 170,000 procedures performed between 2003 and 2006. The overall revision rate is 1.4 percent. For those who underwent the newer technique of hip resurfacing, the revision rate is at 2.6 percent. In this procedure, doctors simply replace the surface of the femur and not the whole joint. For the Unicondylar knee replacement- wherein doctors replace only one side of the knee joint, the revision rate is even higher at 2.8 percent.

The study was conducted by Jan van der Meulen and his colleagues at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In the published report, Meulen said, “On the basis of our data, consideration should be given to using hip resurfacing only in male patients and unicondylar knee replacement in elderly patients."

The findings of the research are in line with the findings from other countries. The study did not look at the brands and types of replacement products that had the lowest revision rates but van der Meulen said that will be part of future studies.

When you think about medical tourism, Tunisia is not the first country that comes to mind. Legal restrictions, taxations and other factors have affected Tunisia’s chances of fully developing and promoting its medical tourism industry. But Tunisia is now working hard to develop a strong health travel industry. There are many restrictions that have now been abolished and soon work will start on a private hospital that will target foreign patients. Tunisia aims to become a top medical tourism destination with a combination of medical and spa services. A new international airport is also set to be completed by the end of 2009. The new airport will really help boost Tunisia’s image as a good destination for health travel. The country aims to attract patients from European and Arab nations. The hospital also aims to attract patients from Africa.

The private hospital that will be built in Tunisia will be built by the Tokushukai Medical Corporation (TMC). The hospital will initially have the capacity of 400 beds. The TMC group, the Japanese company building the hospital, is the third biggest hospital group in the world with 260 private hospitals. The TMC group is the same company that built the Tokushukai Sofia Hospital in Sofia, Bulgaria. The hospital had such a strong impact in Bulgaria and TMC hopes to have the same impact in Tunisia.

There are 80 private clinics in Tunisia and these hospitals can accommodate up to 2,500 beds. In 2006, there were about 72,000 patients who traveled to Tunisia from the Maghreb region and Europe.