Hospital Services International Patient Programs
Hospital Services/International Patient Programs
The U.S. exports healthcare services many ways, most notably either bringing patients to the United States to receive medical treatment or entering into international consulting, management, educational, and joint venture agreements with international medical establishments.
Bringing Patients to the United States for Medical Treatment
When patients come to the United States from other countries, they are most often seeking highly specialized and complex care. Major U.S. hospitals with formal international patient programs generally do not have a focus on attracting patients who are seeking elective (e.g., cosmetic) procedures: therefore the term “international medical travel” is preferred over “medical tourism” when referring to international visitors to the United States seeking medical attention. The reasons that patients choose to travel to the United States are varied, but the sophistication and global reputation of its highly advanced hospitals are often cited as important factors. Other healthcare groups not associated with major hospital systems also treat international patients for elective cosmetic or other procedures.
Entering into Consulting, Management, Educational, & Joint Venture Agreements
U.S. hospitals and other healthcare establishments often have contracts with foreign hospitals, companies that own or manage hospitals, and local governmental entities. In these international agreements, U.S. healthcare providers may engage in several business activities, including:
- Providing advice on the planning and management of hospitals outside of the United States
- Sharing quality assurance & safety processes
- Helping hospitals design new care delivery models (i.e., how care is provided to patients in practice) and helping providers in other countries recruit workforce talent
- Giving advice on staffing models and technology/equipment purchases
- Providing training for both clinical and administrative staff through observerships, fellowships, rotations, and other outlets; some agreements may involve having clinicians and administrators travel between facilities in the US and sites in other countries
- Providing remote second opinion and telemedicine services
- Exploring innovations in clinical research initiatives given the needs of specific international populations
- Providing a diverse set of educational offerings, such as seminars, symposia, video trainings, continuing medical education courses, and even degree programs
- Directly owning a hospital, patient care program, medical school, or educational facility abroad