THIS WEEK IN U.S. DOMESTIC MEDICAL TRAVEL™
Volume 1, Issue 17
Over the years, a growing number of employers, providers and insurance brokers have taken an interest in the medical travel space.
Keith A. Johnson, president, Stop-Loss Brokerage, Inc., has teamed up with Meritain Health, an independent subsidiary of Aetna, to create a product that promotes medical travel.
The benefit plan, primarily targeting locations including Bangkok, Thailand and Guatemala, is structured to encompass both domestic and international programs, and guarantees no out-of-pocket costs for the patients and traveling family members.
With the growing interest in medical/surgical travel options, we'd like to hear from your provider organization - ACO, health/hospital system, free standing surgi-center, community hospital - why you believe that your facility or organization is a Center of Excellence that can serve the needs of employers and payers throughout the United States.
Tell us what distinguishes your service offering in terms of cost, patient experience and satisfaction, outcomes, or other quality indicators. Send your descriptor, including photos or charts, and we will evaluate for publication in this newsletter.
Thank you for your interest in this exciting, growing market space. Please be in touch with your comments and editorial contributions, which can be sent directly to: editor@USDomesticMedicalTravel.com.
Editor and Publisher
Keith A. Johnson, President, Stop-Loss Brokerage, Inc.
12700 Townepark Way Ste. 105
Louisville, KY 40243
About Keith A. Johnson
Keith Johnson is the president and founder of Stop-Loss Brokerage, Inc. and he holds the Registered Health Underwriter designation that he obtained in 2003. Keith began his insurance career with The Prudential in 1982 as an Ordinary Life Agent and proceeded to become involved with the group insurance field. He accepted a position as a Regional Group Health manager with Golden Rule Insurance in 1983, and made a transition to Physicians Health Plan of Kentucky (PHPK), and an IPA model HMO in 1985.
When PHPK was bought by Humana in 1987, Keith accepted a position as a Senior Sales executive with Phoenix Mutual based in Enfield, Connecticut, serving the state of Kentucky, and later the Southern Ohio regions of Cincinnati and Dayton. After a successful 10-year run with Phoenix, which included two top 20 and a top 10 production year award, Keith worked for EBC/Safeco and The Aetna to obtain hands-on knowledge of the TPA business.
After a brief partnership with a brokerage agency, Keith launched Stop-Loss Brokerage, Inc. in 1998 offering corporate benefit services in an effort to bring an independent brokerage agency platform to the self-funded arena. Stop-Loss Brokerage currently maintains MGA contracts with five select TPA's.
About Stop-Loss Brokerage, Inc.
The goal of Stop-Loss Brokerage is to build the self-funded platform, with the help of a benefit consultant, specific to the client's needs, as opposed to forcing the plan sponsor to assume a pre-built shelf product platform that may pose certain provisional or administrative constraints on their plan.
U.S. Domestic Medical Travel (USDMT): Is Stop-Loss Brokerage, Inc. the first company in the market to participate in a medical travel initiative?
Keith A. Johnson (KJ): I would assume so. Stop-loss companies are generally pursued in a traditional product format.
My company created a product in conjunction with Meritain Health, an independent subsidiary of Aetna, to promote medical travel. Very simply, the initiative is largely driven by self-funded plan sponsors.
USDMT: What size employers are you looking at?
KJ: Ideally, we target employers with 100+ lives, but we can accommodate smaller employers, as well.
USDMT: On the self-funded side, will most companies opt for an international medical travel benefit after a domestic benefit has been implemented?
KJ: Logically, that is the next step in the progression, however, it is a slow evolving process.
When I initially structured this product, my focus was aimed toward venues and foreign, national and expatriate populations within the U.S. that already had an established and inherent desire to travel internationally.
USDMT: How do you select providers? Do you offer them a network?
KJ: We do.
For example, I have traveled to Bangkok twice and the product structure there is the "TAPHP" or Thailand Association Preferred Health Plan. We partner there with Bangkok Hospital Systems (BHS) which is a system composed of approximately 17 or 18 hospitals.
USDMT: Do you work with a facilitator?
KJ: Not directly, I provide the stop-loss insurance, and serve as the independent plan consultant to the corporate sponsor, typically in conjunction with their appointed broker representative.
As I mentioned before, Meritain Health and I structured the benefit plans to promote certain venues, and have since carried out the same process with facilitators for Latin American plans.
Our facilitator in Latin America has a great working knowledge of the private medical community.
USDMT: How would a U.S. based employer view the opportunity to send employees to a location, such as Guatemala, where quality and outcomes data is fairly unknown?
KJ: Many destinations will recommend FAM tours for employers and individuals to familiarize themselves with a certain location.
I find the private medical sector of Guatemala to be very adequate with the level of services that are offered.
We have had initial discussions with the Miami Dade County School System, which is comprised of approximately 20,000 full time employees - 60 percent of which are Latin Americans.
The benefit plan is structured to encompass both domestic and international programs, and we provide additional incentives for employees to elect certain procedures.
With this benefit, we waive the employee's deductible and coinsurance costs, and cover the complete cost of airfare and rehabilitation stay. We coordinate the entire trip and ensure that there is zero out-of-pocket costs for the member and traveling family member.
USDMT: How many members have you coordinated on behalf of?
KJ: Right now it is too early in the marketing process to measure statistics, but we just initiated the medical travel component into an existing self-funded case.
Our product primarily focuses on locations including Bangkok, Thailand and Guatemala.
USDMT: Do you anticipate a high employer uptake?
KJ: Again, right now the sign-on is slower than we would like. But, what is interesting is that five years ago there was virtually no discussion of domestic travel programs, and now major retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Lowe's, are embracing this kind of benefit.
Lowe's has partnered with Cleveland Clinic, which is phenomenal for Cleveland Clinic, but from a plan sponsor standpoint, the discounts Lowe's has negotiated with Cleveland Clinic will pale in comparison to what we can offer.
What can be obtained on an international basis will be driven largely by outcome measurements.
It is our intent to pursue JCI-accredited facilities so that the international network will be fully accountable.
USDMT: How can you overcome the pushback that looms on the international medical travel side?
KJ: That is the question of the hour!
We are working internally, and have been establishing strong business connections with various governmental entities.
Bangkok Hospital Systems has been terrific to work with, as well.
USDMT: How can the industry jump-start international medical travel?
KJ: From the network provider side of this, we need to eliminate the pushback in order for employers to embrace the international space, which is a very reachable objective.
SPOTLIGHT: Lynn Burkholder, Project Director, Pennsylvania Tourism Partnership
About Lynn Burkholder
After more than 20 years of working in corporate marketing, half of it at the executive and upper management levels, Lynn Burkholder founded RLB Marketing, LLC in January, 2010. Her company develops strategic marketing plans for its clients and facilitates their execution, when needed. While RLB Marketing works with small and mid-size businesses and organizations from a variety of industries, its niche is hospitality, travel and entertainment.
Lynn served the hospitality, travel/tourism and entertainment industries for more than ten years. She opened the first gaming and entertainment facility in Central Pennsylvania, serving as vice president of Marketing for Penn National Gaming's Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course. Before that, Lynn served as director of Resorts Marketing for Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company. During her more than five years with Hershey, Lynn planned and supervised the execution of marketing activity to drive leisure, business and group room nights, golf rounds and dining covers for the Hershey properties.
Lynn has served as a guest speaker and writer on topics ranging from branding, direct marketing and CRM to delivering an effective marketing ROI for a variety of business, marketing and trade associations.
About Pennsylvania Tourism Partnership
The newly-created Pennsylvania Tourism Partnership will augment state tourism efforts by developing a long-term strategic marketing plan resulting in consistent branding, promotion and marketing of Pennsylvania as a premier tourism destination.
Marketing tourism throughout Pennsylvania has historically been led by the State Tourism Office, located within the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). Through DCED, the administration has spent the last two years engaging the tourism industry to define and develop a collaborative structure that will drive the future of Pennsylvania's tourism efforts.
While room tax dollars fund Pennsylvania's regional tourism efforts and DCED oversees marketing efforts across the commonwealth, these efforts are not enough. Pennsylvania is working towards integrating the private sector to build and strengthen resources - both from the public and private sectors - in order to supplement the regional and state-wide tourism marketing efforts. The PTP was formed with this goal in mind.
The creation of the PTP is a collaborative effort among Gov. Tom Corbett's Office, DCED, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), Team Pennsylvania Foundation (Team PA), the Pennsylvania Association of Travel & Tourism (PATT), and tourism industry representatives from the public and private sector, which make up the PTP Steering Committee.
The Steering Committee is comprised of business and industry leaders, representatives from key government agencies and industry-related organizations from across the commonwealth. The committee is tasked with an organizational plan, branding, a strategic marketing plan for Pennsylvania tourism and private sector funding to enhance public funds.
U.S. Domestic Medical Travel (USDMT): In Pennsylvania, does the delivery of healthcare serve as a key constituent in the tourism initiative?
Lynn Burkholder (LB): In terms of both business and leisure travel, Pennsylvania has a dynamic trade, which hasn't had an opportunity to fully develop. The Pennsylvania Tourism Partnership, which launched last year, is intended to build brand equity through consistent and strategic marketing. The PTP has identified several segments of the industry with opportunities for growth. With many quality healthcare institutions in Pennsylvania, it is reasonable to think that healthcare is one of those segments.
The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) does not collect data related to medical travel. I spent more than five years marketing Hershey as a travel destination. With the Milton Hershey Medical Center located directly across the street from Hershey's largest property, Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, I know it drove room nights. However, we did not track guests traveling to Hershey for healthcare delivery.
USDMT: Ecotourism and the sustainability of tourism are directly tied into the healthcare industry, and several regions throughout the country are exploring opportunities. Is Pennsylvania likely to do so?
LB: There is no question that both ecotourism and the healthcare industry are growing and changing. Making healthcare more accessible to consumers has created a lot of movement in the industry as a whole, specifically in terms of increased acquisition of institutions and expansion of facilities. Tying this to ecotourism may be worth exploring. However, in Pennsylvania we have several under-utilized tourism segments, and the strategic planning process will help us prioritize where to focus our resources.
USDMT: Large U.S. employers, such as Wal-Mart and Lowe's, are working with Centers of Excellence throughout the country. Will Pennsylvania target those business opportunities?
LB: Over the next few months, Pennsylvania's public-private partnership will define a brand and a strategic marketing communications plan for tourism. This process will involve tourism marketing professionals from across the commonwealth, including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, both of which have Centers of Excellence. I strongly believe Pennsylvania as a whole, healthcare included, will benefit from stronger branding and marketing for tourism.
Corbett Administration Advances Pennsylvania Tourism Partnership
Steering Committee Developing Action Plan to Elevate Pennsylvania Tourism
The Corbett Administration continues to make exciting progress to strengthen Pennsylvania's tourism industry through the Pennsylvania Tourism Partnership and the continued progress of a 17-member steering committee that will integrate the public and private sectors to elevate Pennsylvania as a premier tourism destination.
"After nearly 25 years of the tourism industry exploring a variety of approaches to marketing, Pennsylvania is on the verge of making history," said DCED Secretary C. Alan Walker. "The creation of a steering committee was an essential first step for the partnership toward strengthening the commonwealth's tourism brand and marketing and achieving greater continuity. Its continued evolution will require collaboration with Pennsylvania's tourism industry and business leaders, as well as tourism colleagues around the country."
The Pennsylvania Tourism Partnership (PTP) represents a shared desire of the public and private sectors to achieve a collaborative and integrated approach to branding and marketing tourism that is transformational. Under this partnership, Pennsylvania's tourism brand and marketing initiatives can achieve greater continuity and brand awareness to increase the already significant economic and jobs impact of the tourism industry in Pennsylvania.
Leadership for the PTP comes from a 17-member steering committee, comprised of business and industry leaders from across the commonwealth with demonstrated skills, strong leadership and marked successes within their organizations and representatives of key government agencies, including Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED), the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Department of Agriculture.
During the startup phase, the steering committee will chart the course of development for the PTP by focusing on an organizational plan, bylaws and a development effort to raise the necessary funds for brand discovery and a strategic marketing plan over the next 12 months. The committee will also serve as visible and vocal ambassadors for tourism and its vital role in Pennsylvania's economic development until such time as the PTP is fully operational with a functioning board of directors.
Historically, statewide tourism has been led by the Office of Travel, Tourism & Film (OTTF) located within DCED. Under the PTP, the public and private sectors will collaborate on the development of a long-term state tourism marketing plan and sustainable funding sources to support the priorities outlined in the plan.
The PTP is the result of a two-year process and increasing momentum toward a structure that enables the public and private sectors to collectively drive the future of Pennsylvania's tourism marketing efforts. State Rep. Jerry Stern, who chairs the House Tourism and Recreational Development, has been a leader in this effort, supporting the industry as it searched for a way to move this initiative forward. The road leading to the PTP's creation has included industry surveys, national research and ongoing meetings between the public and private sectors.
"Travel and tourism is a highly competitive global industry where promotion is increasingly critical to driving visitation," said Lynn Burkholder, PTP Project Director. "I look forward to working with the steering committee, PATT and the OTTF in the coming months as we take important steps toward opportunities to market and promote Pennsylvania as a domestic and international tourism destination."
The PTP exists initially within Team Pennsylvania Foundation (Team PA) for up to three years during the start-up phase, operating under its 501(c) 3 charter and funded with operational seed money from DCE and support from the Pennsylvania Association of Travel and Tourism (PATT). The Pennsylvania OTTF will continue to represent the state's involvement in the partnership and will be actively engaged on the steering committee.
"Creating the public/private Pennsylvania Tourism Partnership has long been a goal and initiative of the travel and tourism industry in Pennsylvania," said Rob Fulton, president and CEO of PATT. "We are thrilled to achieve this important milestone, but we realize this is only the beginning of an exciting journey. The steering committee is a valuable asset as we grow the partnership and enhance tourism marketing."
The creation of the Steering Committee was a collaborative effort of DCED, PATT, and Team PA, as well as tourism industry representatives from the public and private sector. There are currently 16 members of the PTP Steering Committee with one position vacant. The Steering Committee includes:
- Nick DeBenedictis, Chairman/CEO, Aqua America, Inc.
- Liz Diesel, General Manager, Glades Pike Winery
- Kim Schaller, Executive V.P./Chief Marketing Officer, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts
- Joe Massaro, General Manager, Hilton Harrisburg
- Marnie Conley, Chief Marketing Officer, Longwood Garden
- Ted Leonard, Executive Director, PA AAA Federation
- Robert Nutting, Principal Owner, Pittsburgh Pirates
- William Demchak, President/CEO, PNC Bank
- Brandon Igdalsky, President/CEO, Pocono Raceway
- Patrick Ryan, Director of Sales, Sands Casino resort
- Paul Nelson, Owner, Waldameer Park
- Karen Winner Sed, CEO, Winner International
- Greg Booth, President/CEO, Zippo Case
- Alan Walker, Secretary, Department of Community & Economic Development
- Ellen Ferretti, Secretary, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
- George Greig, Secretary, Department of Agriculture
For more information about the PTP, visit www.patourismpartnership.com.
Coordinated Health To Expand Patient Services in Western New Jersey With Monday Opening in Phillipsburg
Leading specialized hospital network Coordinated Health today announced that its patient services in western New Jersey will expand starting on Monday, with the opening of a new Coordinated Health campus at Strykers Crossing Shopping Center at 201 Strykers Road in Phillipsburg.
The new facility will replace Coordinated Health's existing Phillipsburg location, which has been in operation since 2011, and adds physical therapy and x-ray services to the orthopedics and foot and ankle services now available in Phillipsburg.
Coordinated Health will continue to expand in the area. A new state-of-the-art, 10-acre Coordinated Health campus at 222 Red School Lane in Lopatcong Township, New Jersey, is slated to open in early 2015. The integrated campus will include medical offices, physical therapy, an imaging suite and a primary care walk-in clinic with Care on Demand.
"The new Coordinated Health campus in Phillipsburg gives local residents quality care that is accessible and affordable," said Coordinated Health founder and CEO Dr. Emil DiIorio. "With the larger space and the addition of new amenities and services to Phillipsburg, we will also deliver to patients the seamless healthcare experience they deserve."
The acclaimed team of Coordinated Health medical doctors in Phillipsburg includes orthopedic surgeons Dr. Todd Melegari, Dr. James Reid, and Dr. Jason Rudolph and podiatrist Dr. Stacy Resnick.
For appointments, patients can call the 24-hour Coordinated Health Solution Center at 877 247 8080 or visit CoordinatedHealth.com.
About Coordinated Health: Coordinated Health is a Pennsylvania-based, privately held, physician owned, specialized hospital network that delivers simple, accessible, affordable and consistently effective value-based healthcare. The Coordinated Health network focuses on orthopedics, joint replacement, sports medicine, primary care and women's health, and also offers a wide range of other services across 16 locations throughout eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey. Coordinated Health, the only hospital in the Lehigh Valley to earn the Top Performer rating from The Joint Commission three years in a row, has repeatedly earned top patient satisfaction scores from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
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Regional HealthPlus and Cigna Start Collaborative Care Program to Improve Health and Lower Costs
- Customers benefit from improved care coordination and greater emphasis on preventive care
- Doctors are rewarded for improving patient health and lowering medical costs
- Program includes registered nurse care coordinators aligned with Cigna case managers
Cigna (NYSE: CI) and Regional HealthPlus have launched a collaborative care initiative to improve patient access to healthcare, enhance care coordination, and achieve the goal of improved health, affordability and patient experience. The program became effective October 1. Cigna now has seven collaborative care arrangements in the Carolinas and 105 of them nationwide.
Cigna Collaborative Care is the company's approach to accomplishing the same population health goals as accountable care organizations, or ACOs. The program will benefit the more than 5,000 individuals covered by a Cigna health plan who receive care from more than 100 primary care doctors and specialists with Regional HealthPlus.
In places where it's been introduced, Cigna Collaborative Care is helping to improve the health of Cigna customers while holding the line on medical costs. The programs are helping to close gaps in care, such as missed health screenings or prescription refills, reducing unnecessary use of hospital emergency rooms, increasing the number of preventive health visits and improving follow-up care for people transitioning from the hospital to home.
"Regional HealthPlus has been a leader in patient care coordination with more Level III Patient Centered Medical Homes than any other system in South Carolina, and this initiative with Cigna gives us the opportunity to expand our services in order to reach more patients," said Nick Ulmer, M.D., Regional HealthPlus coordination committee chairman. "By utilizing valuable data from Cigna and working as a team to coordinate care, we can improve health outcomes, especially for those with chronic illnesses or medically complex conditions."
"Together with Regional HealthPlus, Cigna aims to change the U.S. healthcare system from one that emphasizes the amount of care delivered to one that focuses on the quality of that care," said Edward Hunsinger, M.D., Cigna's senior medical director for South Carolina. "We believe that a patient-centered system focused on prevention and wellness will result in a healthier population and lower medical costs, which is good for individuals, families, employers and doctors."
Under the program, Regional HealthPlus will monitor and coordinate all aspects of an individual's medical care. Patients will continue to go to their current physician and automatically receive the benefits of the program. Individuals who are enrolled in a Cigna health plan and choose to seek care from a doctor with Regional HealthPlus will also have access to the benefits of the program. There are no changes in any plan requirements regarding referrals to specialists. Patients most likely to see the immediate benefits of the program are those who need help managing chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Critical to the program's benefits are the registered nurse clinical care coordinators, employed by Regional HealthPlus, who will help patients with chronic conditions or other health challenges navigate the healthcare system. The care coordinators are aligned with a team of Cigna case managers to ensure a high degree of collaboration between the medical group and Cigna, which will ultimately provide a better experience for the individual.
The care coordinators will enhance care by using patient-specific data from Cigna to help identify patients being discharged from the hospital who might be at risk for readmission, as well as patients who may be overdue for important health screenings or who may have skipped a prescription refill.
The care coordinators are part of the physician-led care team that will help patients get the follow-up care or screenings they need, identify potential complications related to medications and help prevent chronic conditions from worsening.
Care coordinators can also help patients schedule appointments, provide health education and refer patients to Cigna's clinical support programs that may be available as part of their health plan, such as disease management programs for diabetes, heart disease and other conditions, and lifestyle management programs for quitting smoking or managing weight.
Cigna will compensate Regional HealthPlus for the medical and care coordination services doctors provide. Additionally, the medical group may be rewarded through a "pay for value" structure for meeting targets for improving quality and lowering medical costs.
Cigna has been at the forefront of the accountable care organization movement since 2008 and now has 105 Cigna Collaborative Care arrangements with large physician groups that span 27 states, reach more than 1.1 million commercial customers and encompass more than 41,000 doctors, including more than 20,000 primary care physicians and more than 20,000 specialists.
Cigna Collaborative Care is one component of the company's approach to physician engagement for health improvement, which also includes the innovative Cigna-HealthSpring® care model for Medicare customers. Today, more than 1.4 million Cigna and Cigna-HealthSpring customers benefit from 270 engaged physician relationships across 31 states, with more than 68,000 doctors participating, including more than 26,000 primary care physicians and more than 41,000 specialists.
About Regional HealthPlus
Regional HealthPlus (RHP) is a network of physicians, hospitals and other healthcare providers working in partnership with healthcare payers, including managed care companies, third-party administrators and self-insured employers, to deliver patient-focused, coordinated care. By working in partnership and focusing on putting the needs of patients first, Regional HealthPlus has forged new ground in redefining the way healthcare is delivered. It is a model that delivers high quality, patient-centered, coordinated care.
Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America and Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other related products, including group life, accident and disability insurance. Cigna maintains sales capability in 30 countries and jurisdictions, and has more than 80 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit www.cigna.com.
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Chris Skinner, 864-560-6561
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More Than 90 Percent of Telehealth Calls Replace Expensive and Time-Consuming Trips to Doctors or ERs
First Stop Health analysis reveals value of 24/7/365 phone and online access to doctors
An analysis conducted by telehealth and advocacy service provider First Stop Health reveals that 93 percent of all phone consults with doctors helped patients avoid expensive and time-consuming trips to doctors' offices or emergency rooms (ERs).
First Stop Health provides immediate, 24/7/365 phone and online access to more than 370 U.S.-based, board-certified physicians licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The company recently analyzed usage data from its telehealth, sometimes called telemedicine, service. It discovered that 93 percent of telehealth consultations with First Stop Health doctors helped its members avoid the hassle and expense of traveling to physician offices, urgent care facilities or emergency rooms.
These medically unnecessary office and ER visits would have cost an average of $103 and $1,067, respectively, according to a fee schedule published by physicianspractice.com. Given that the average family of four goes to the doctor about 14 times per year and to the ER 1.7 times per year - and that between 50 to 70 percent of these visits can be handled via a telehealth consultation - savings can accrue quickly.
Currently, about five percent of employees in the United States have a telemedicine benefit provided by their employers. However, a recent study by Towers Watson found that in 2015, 37 percent of employers surveyed expect to offer their employees telemedicine consultations as a low-cost alternative to emergency room or physician office visits for non-emergency health issues. And another 34 percent are considering offering telemedicine in 2016 or 2017.
"When you think about the expenses and time involved in making an appointment, traveling to a doctor's office, waiting to see the doctor and paying a copay or deductible, avoiding all of that is a huge benefit to users of telehealth services. This is truly what consumer-driven healthcare is about," said Dr. Mark Friedman, First Stop Health's chief medical officer.
Friedman added that telehealth doctors can safely and effectively treat a wide range of illnesses and injuries without seeing patients in person. Topping the list of issues about which First Stop Health members call - and for which they receive treatment - are infections, allergies, flu, injuries, rashes, stomach problems and many others.
The company provides telehealth services for individuals and employers. First Stop Health charges a low monthly fee, provides unlimited usage and includes members' families. First Stop Health does not charge a per-consultation fee.
About First Stop Health
Chicago-based First Stop Health (www.fshealth.com) is a quick, convenient and affordable telehealth and advocacy service available to employers and to consumers. It offers immediate, 24/7/365 phone and online access to more than 370 U.S.-based and licensed, board-certified physicians who provide medical care, advice, diagnosis and - when necessary - prescriptions to its members. Members also have access to expert patient advocates to assist them with navigating serious illnesses and reducing medical bills. In addition, First Stop Health helps employers manage and reduce major medical claims. Connect with First Stop Health on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter: (@firststophealth).
Lack of Suitable Resources Limiting Ebola Diagnoses in West Africa, says GlobalData Analyst
- Poor logistics and low trained staff numbers among greatest limitations to Ebola diagnosis in West Africa
- ‘Solution might be to introduce molecular diagnostics suitable for the African environment,' says analyst
Poor logistics and low trained staff numbers are two of the greatest limitations to providing a sufficient molecular diagnostic capacity for Ebola in West Africa, where only 56 percent of cases are described as confirmed and the remaining cases are probable or suspected, according to an analyst with research and consulting firm GlobalData.
Andrew S. Thompson, Ph.D., GlobalData's senior analyst covering In vitro Diagnostics, states that if the number of diagnosed Ebola cases in West Africa increased to 10,000 per week, as recently predicted by the World Health Organization, local diagnostic laboratories would need to be capable of processing at least 3,400 specimens per day collectively, to support the number of positive tests and repeat negative tests expected.
Thompson says: "While modern molecular diagnostic testing is the most sensitive and precise way to detect the Ebola virus, it is complex and expensive to perform. It is therefore extremely challenging to implement this technology in poorer regions of the world, where the healthcare infrastructure is inadequate, or even nonexistent.
"At present, there continue to be only a few established diagnostic facilities in West Africa, and while donor countries are increasingly providing mobile laboratory facilities, these can only slightly narrow the gap in the testing capacity."
The analyst notes that while the shortage of trained staff can be filled by deploying skilled scientists from outside the region, poor logistics is a more difficult problem to solve, as the reagents used for testing require constant refrigeration during their movement through the supply chain.
Thompson continues: "One solution might be to introduce molecular diagnostics suitable for the African environment. These could include reagents that are not dependent upon refrigeration, as well as instruments that are low-cost, self-powered, simple to use, and can be implemented quickly on short notice by governments in the region.
"This approach would provide a more robust model for responding to sporadic emergencies than the current approach, which depends on coordinating a global response and typically lags behind the first occurrence of the outbreak."
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UnitedHealth's Price Transparency Tools Help Consumers Choose High-Quality Docs
by Dina Overland
Fiercehealthpayer.com- When consumers used UnitedHealth's price transparency tools, they were able to comparison shop for lower costs and search for high-quality providers, according to a new study of the insurer's myHealthcare Cost Estimator (myHCE).
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Price Transparency Initiative Encounters Resistance in New York
Hospitals, payers worry it would reveal proprietary data
by Ron Shinkman
Fiercehealthfinance.com-Both hospitals and payers in New York are worried about a new state-funded study regarding healthcare price transparency, Capital New York has reported.
To view the original article click here.
Central and South America-Health Insurance, Healthcare and Medical Tourism 2014
A new independent report
Central and South America is an area with a high profile in healthcare, health insurance and medical tourism.
Many insurers and the countries themselves, see potential for health insurance and medical tourism.
But independent information, rather than hype or outdated information, is a struggle to find. Much of what is written about these countries is biased, wrongheaded and overblown.
This regional report aims to change that with up to date detail from recent research. The findings often turn on their head the ideas of those countries with potential and those without.
For health insurers and brokers, there is potential for domestic and international health insurance, but it is not simple or uniform.
On medical tourism some countries are laying the foundation for future growth, while others promoted as market leaders, are going backwards.
To understand both health insurance and medical tourism, it is vital to understand how state and private healthcare, state health insurance and private health insurances work; and what health risks exist.
This report is by Ian Youngman, who has been producing detailed research reports on medical tourism for a decade, and reports on global health insurance for over 20 years.
Youngman says, "This research was a hard slog, but what kept me going was finding gems about countries that surprised me, and anger at some of the media and Web untruths. Overall there is a picture of growth, hope and expansion, all driven from within the region and not by what some powerful outside country seeks to dictate."
Central and South America-Health insurance, healthcare and medical tourism 2014
22 countries profiled in detail
130 pages £ 799
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- French Guiana
- Background political and economic detail
- Latest tourism numbers
- State and private healthcare
- Health problems
- Plans for change
- International hospital accreditation
- State health insurance
- Private health insurance
- Cross border health insurance
- Number of locals living overseas
- Insurance for locals overseas
- Number of expatriates
- Where expatriates come from
- Attitude to expatriates
- Requirements for expatriates
- Advice to expatriates
- International health insurance regulation
- International health insurers/ brokers activity
- Medical and health tourism numbers in
- Where medical and health tourists come from
- Medical tourism numbers out
- Where medical tourists go
- Medical and health tourism overview
- Promotional bodies for health and medical tourism
- Targets and plans
- Potential for health insurance and medical tourism
Help Save a Life and Support MatchingDonors
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MatchingDonors is a 501c3 nonprofit organization and the nation's largest online living organ donor organization finding living organ donors for people needing organ transplants. In conjunction with various health organizations throughout the United States we have created a very successful Public Service Announcement campaign to help people recognize that they can save lives by being a living organ donor, to encourage them to register as an altruistic living organ donor, and to make them realize they can help save the lives of people needing organ transplants by donating other things. This MatchingDonors Living Organ Donor Initiative program has already saved thousands of lives.
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