Clarifying medical tourism

by JHI Staff on April 23, 2012

Here’s an article of mine recently published in The Chicago Tribune. It takes on the hype about “medical tourism”—a subject we keep hearing all kinds of claims and comments about, but that is really an imprecise, murky idea. It’s also a phenomenon I would argue isn’t nearly as big a deal as many make it out to be, at least in terms of what most people think of as medical tourism. Well, don’t get me started on that now, I intend to write a post about that a bit further down the road.

In any case—and as I elaborate on in the Tribune article—I sometimes fear the hype about medical tourism will be confused with, or even worse taint, the sort of thing we do at Johns Hopkins Medicine International. We’re not about zipping people around the planet to find a better deal in an elective procedure. We believe everyone deserves local access to the best possible care. Sure, when that care isn’t available locally, it makes sense to bring the patient to where it is, which is why many patients from around the U.S. and world come to our Baltimore campus. But what we most stand for is helping different countries build the health care systems they need so that fewer patients have to travel. But as I say, more on “medical tourism” later.

For now, check out my piece featured in The Chicago Tribune.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }


VoyagerMed August 27, 2014 at 10:22 am

VoyagerMed delivers innovative medical solutions to both doctors and patients. We access the most advanced technologies from Europe and make them available in our Cayman Islands surgical center to our “member physicians” on an exclusive basis. It's an interesting idea and if you're a doctor or patient looking for something different in medical tourism, you should check out our site

Imagine a place where you can practice state-of-the-art medicine right now without the regulatory or administrative burdens that you struggle with every day. Our center offers an invigorating and challenging environment that’s based on some of the most successful technology incubators in Silicon Valley and New York. In the Cayman Islands, we have built an ecosystem of medical innovation where practitioners can access cutting-edge medical treatment options for their patients that European physicians already access years before the US.

This is not a proposed project that is building upon a dream from raw land like some of our competitors. It is an existing facility with fully operational 24/7/365 capabilities and solid clinical history for the past 14 years. The center has been in operation since 2000 and has a fully staffed facility conveniently located five minutes from the international airport, and fifteen minutes from the beach resort hotels.

VoyagerMed provides you with the turnkey solution to deliver your patients with innovative medicine that star athletes like Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning access, all in a luxurious setting much closer to home.

Importantly for your practice and reputation, we are a patient-centered, high-tech, high-quality travel medicine option that redefines what people expect from overseas medical care.

Our model is much like an exclusive private club. When our Doctors and Patients decide to become members they will have access not only to the most advanced technologies, but also to the most responsive, thoughtful care possible.

We seek the best and brightest doctors who are demanding access to innovative medicine that’s currently in use in Europe. We are selective in who we work with and have already brought on board some of the most talented practitioners in New York City.

The “club model” does not require any upfront fee from our doctors and is very flexible with regard to time spent in Cayman, number of procedures, and patients.


bettinasmith143 June 17, 2014 at 7:43 am

Great! I am really thankful for the information provided. Medical tourism occurs when people choose to travel abroad to access medical care that is typically paid for out of pocket. In some cases, these individuals felt that the information provided was overly simplistic, but others felt it was clear and helpful.


Deborah May 1, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I would like to speak to you regarding bring top quality healthcare to the Caribbean through Johns Hopkins International. Could you please email me with your contact information?


Steve Thompson May 2, 2012 at 10:11 am

Good morning Deborah. Thank you for commenting (and subscribing!). I'd like to put you in touch with Irma Purisch, who oversees Caribbean projects. She can be contacted at Thank you again for your interest. Have a great day!


Health Tourism April 25, 2012 at 9:51 am

Nice article! congratulations!


CMG April 24, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Definitely an interesting counterpoint to the horror stories about medical tourism that seem to be more and more prevalent in media reports. The work that JHMI and other institutions do to enhance the quality of medical care in developing countries is certainly admirable and shouldn't be confused with transnational doctor shopping. There are also, as you mention in the Trib article, those who travel to the U.S. to receive care they could not get in their home country, but it's still pretty rare that medical tourism is used in this context. The warnings given to those who travel abroad simply to undergo elective procedures that are too pricey for them here in the States are probably not so overblown. According to a recent study conducted by the Nassau University Medical Center, 80% of respondents in the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported having to treat patients who experienced complications after overseas cosmetic procedures and over half of those who underwent procedures like breast augmentations required multiple operations to correct complications that developed after they returned home.

In a perfect world, there's no doubt that the influx of American patients to offshore hospitals might be the catalyst for overseas improvements in care. But in foreign hospitals where price is the primary selling point, it's hard to see what the incentive would be for less than scrupulous physicians and administrators to implement costly improvements.


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