This is going to be the next wave in medicine– medical tourism, done by US surgeons who operate overseas, to provide better care, better outcomes, better environment – and even better equipment, than can be offered in the United States.
Medical Tourism has taken a new step. Some think that medical tourism is new- it isn’t. People have traveled to get the surgery by the team, or the surgeon they wanted for years. Sometimes they do this for economic reasons- but often patients do this because they want to go where they can have the best hands working on them.
Medical tourism within the US is common. People traveling from one coast to another to get the right surgeon, with the right team to do their operation. A friend of mine needed a rare operation (thoracic aneurysm) , and I sent them to Houston – where they have done more than anywhere else. In my own practice we’ve had hundreds of patients come to Arizona to have us do their weight loss surgery.
In the history of surgery- the fathers of American Surgery would take patients overseas, operate on them where hospitals had perfected techniques. Halsted- who was the founding surgeon at Johns Hopkins, spent years going overseas to learn and perfect techniques. Over time the US became a leader in surgery and then tourism shifted where patients would come to the US for their surgery. From the 1940’s til recently surgeons from overseas would come to the US to learn, but that has shifted away from the US again.
Today laparoscopic procedures that have been perfected outside the US, and patients travel outside the US for procedures they can’t get here. Some of the procedures can be done here, such as gastric plication. But with gastric plication patients are getting them from surgeons that have little experience, and centers that are not familiar with how to take care of the patients from nursing to radiology.Gastric plication is a simple surgery in concept, but not in terms of technique. Unlike stapling, you can’t just cut on the dotted line. But- in Baja they have done more than anyone in North America.
Medical tourism is needed for two reasons first is the economics of medicine in the US. Because so many people can’t get insurance, or have such high deductibles that they have to take their health care in their own hands. For them, getting an operation at a price less than in the US- and with more experience, with US surgeons is revolutionary.The second is they can easily go somewhere and have the US surgeon do their operation in a facility that exceeds any facility in the US.
Our teaming up with Dr. Ortiz in Baja represents the new wave of medical tourism – bringing together international expertise, surgical skill, and compassion.