216122 Taking Off to Take It Off: Medical Tourism and Bariatic Surgery

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kristin Tyman, MPH , Multi-service Eating Disorders Association, Newton, MA
As Medical Tourism, the act of leaving one's country to receive health and wellness treatment in another country, gains popularity among Americans seeking alternatives to the expensive and often inaccessible US health care system, international medical providers are aggressively competing for cash-paying patients. Competitive factors delivered primarily via the Internet include better access to medical treatment, high quality of medical care, and low price. This paper creates a replicable model which could be used by prospective medical tourists and others to evaluate the credentials of hospitals offering weight loss surgery. Through literature reviews, Internet research as well as telephone calls and email conducted in English and Spanish, thirteen JCI accredited hospitals in Central and South American countries were evaluated through the eyes of a hypothetical US consumer who is considering bariatric surgery using four criteria: (1) types of bariatric surgical options offered; (2) effectiveness of the hospital web site in delivering relevant information to English-speaking patients; (3) quality of medical services provided; and (4) price. Conclusion: Poor communication, a lack of international standards, and unavailability of key pieces of information are obstacles for 11 of the 13 hospitals reviewed to attract English speaking patients for bariatric surgery.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Clinical medicine applied in public health
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Compare bariatric surgery protocol and pricing in the United States versus countries in Central and South America. 2. Discuss the lack of international oversight in regards to bariatric sugeries performed outside of an individual's country of origin and what ethical, medical and mental health questions are raised. 3. List the measures used to identify the quality and competency of an international program performing bariatric surgical procedures.

Keywords: Obesity, International Systems

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Kristin Tyman is the Chief Operating Officer at the Multi-service Eating Disorders Association. For nearly six years she has worked closely with individuals who struggle with eating disorders and body image issues. Kristin has seen the impact of surgical and non-surgical approaches to weight management.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.