This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

September 16, 2009

Healthcare Reform

As the United States thinks about healthcare reform, it seemed appropriate to look at ways to reduce medical costs without sacrificing quality of care. Some of the leading edge healthcare solutions are clearly non-traditional. They include "disruptive healthcare innovations, such as medical tourism, retail clinics, medical homes, alternative and integrated medicine, and cyber visits. To help employers capitalize on these potential cost-reducing innovations, the consulting firm Deloitte LLP created the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.

For a while now, we have heard about the tremendous cost advantages of "medical tourism", traveling abroad to receive superior medical, dental and cosmetic care at what are characterized as "state-of-the-art medical facilities" throughout the world at a fraction of the cost of US, UK, or Canadian healthcare systems. In 2006 alone, more than 750,000 US citizens left the country to find less expensive medical treatments. That number is projected to grow to six million by next year, potentially saving US employers billions of dollars.

Healthbase is one of the leading providers for direct access to US-, UK-, and internationally trained physicians performing over 300 different procedures at major accredited hospitals in Southeast Asia, Turkey, Belgium, Hungary, and certain countries in Central and South America, (particularly Brazil).

However, the latest trend is similar to Lakeshoring (as opposed to Off-Shoring), that is finding good facilities in lower cost domestic markets, so that the patient does not need to travel to a foreign country to have a particular procedure.

One of the leaders in domestic medical tourism is a company called Healthplace America which has saved its clients hundreds of thousands of dollars by helping to relocate the medical procedure to a lower-cost market within the US, saving up to 75 percent of the cost of having the procedure closer to home. US medical facilities are willing to be paid less because they are generally compensated upfront. Paying them before the procedures are conducted enables them to avoid the arduous task of seeking reimbursement afterward from insurers and third-party administrators.

Expect to see employers and others looking for non-traditional, yet effective ways to deliver healthcare smarter and less expensively. (Other innovations like retail clinics and cyber visits will be addressed in subsequent Herman Trend Alerts.)


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