How to “Be” a Medical Tourism Facilitator

AskMariaTodd™

What does it mean to "BE" a medical tourism facilitator?
There are many dubious certifications for sale to the hopeful and gullible with money in their pockets. They are offered all around the world. Pay thousands of dollars, attend a seminar for a couple of days and the sellers certify that you "are" one. Bam! Just like that! How wonderful for them! They sold another seminar seat. Does that make you a facilitator?

THE DEFINITION OF "BE"

to have a specified qualification or characterization”

Merriam-Webster

the definition of "facilitate"

“to make easier”

Merriam-Webster

basic job skills

Core Functions of Medical Tourism Facilitator.

To “be” a medical tourism facilitator, one must posses the minimum education and training to offer a professional service that centers around the processes of: medical or dental assessment, treatment and travel planning, linking clients to services, advocacy, and monitoring, and outcomes measurement.

Facilitating medical tourism is about transforming  clients’ lives through individualized care and services so it will be easier for clients to meet their goals.  Do you have those skills, education and training?  Are those skills trained in these 2-, 3-, or 5-day commercial certification programs? Nonsense! That’s impossible.

9 phases of medical tourism facilitation

  1. Screening
  2. Assessing
  3. Stratifying Risk
  4. Planning
  5. Implementing (Care Coordination)
  6. Following-up
  7. Transitioning (Transitional Care)
  8. Communication Post Transition
  9. Evaluation.

SCREENING & ASSESSING

The objective of the screening phase is to determine if the patient would benefit from medical travel.  Medical or dental information and past medical history must “be” reviewed and interpreted in order to decide the patient’s appropriateness for medical travel and your professional services offer.

Client information reviewed and interpreted may include the review of the medical or dental problem, how it came about, other health problems, daily medications.

To accomplish this properly, requires knowledge of anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, an understanding of the diagnosis, the procedure, and altitude physiology, past utilization of healthcare services, current health status, and knowledge about the treatment destination, the providers, facilities, prices, quality, safety, complications history and risk, and all the various treatment  options that may benefit this prospective client. This requires an investment of time before the prospective client actually “becomes” a client of the facilitator. How will you be compensated for this time and expertise which forms the basis of the future relationship?

Upon first call or contact, clients are screened as to:

  • diagnosis and contributory
  • location and existence of aftercare options
  • desired treatment /procedure
  • desired destination
  • desired specialist
  • desired facility
  • budget
  • travel considerations (visa, immigration, routes, cultural and linguistic considerations, etc.)

Stratifying Risks

In medical tourism facilitation, risk stratification requires training, education, and professional skills necessary to enable the facilitator to “be” competent to determine the appropriate level of intervention by classifying the patient as being at low, or high risk of a negative outcome or consequence.  How can one “be” competent to perform this duty with 2-, 3- or 5-days of seminar attendance? What resulting qualification does the seminar attendance produce such that one can now claim they are “certified”?
 
Come on people, think!
 
Are you paying thousands of dollars to travel and register for the course to bring home the needed skills and competency for the job? Or are you being taken advantage of and your precious startup capital being wasted?
 
What does the certification represent in terms of professionalism and competency? What does a reasonable public who encounters your website and professional services offer think it means?
 
What is their realistic and reasonable expectation when they encounter this certification? In a court of law would what you deliver meet or exceed what they expect that the certification “represents?”
 
Professional facilitators conduct a health risk assessment and biomedical screening based on clients’ risk factors. If one hasn’t the competency or skills and education to perform this assessment and screening independently, how will this phase be completed with a standard of competence that the general public would expect of a “certified” individual engaged in the business of professional medical tourism facilitation?
 
This phase and its knowledge requirements eliminates travel agents without specialized training, tour operators, hotel and airport taxi rank touts, and sales agents who broker referrals for kickbacks and commissions who are merely “order takers” and internet website operators. This is way beyond appointment setting.
 

PLANNING

Planning is the process of determining specific objectives, goals, and actions designed to meet clients’ needs as identified through the assessment process. The plan must be be action-oriented and time-specific.

Planning covers both short term and long term treatment goals.

  • Short term goals must be directly related to the long term goals.
  • Actions include the treatments and services needed to meet the clients’ needs and goals.

Without adequate training, the facilitator won’t know what they don’t know. As a result, it is impossible for an incompetent but well-intentioned facilitator to “be” of much value as a professional who makes medical travel “easier” or “safer” for the patient. They can actually drive up patient risk without the required competency and experience. 

The objective of this phase is to develop the medical travel plan of care. A timeline of patient care activities and expected outcomes of care must be developed by the facilitator that address the plan of care of each provider involved in the care of a particular client. 

The facilitator coordinates all the ancillary suppliers and practitioners for interdisciplinary management of a client’s diagnosis, treatment of the health problem, or surgical procedure. 

How does a novice facilitator acquire the training and skills to coordinate interdisciplinary care coordination if they aren’t experienced in healthcare delivery at the destination where the patient will travel?

 

Implementation

In medical tourism facilitation, implementation is the process of executing specific care coordination activities and/or interventions that will lead to accomplishing the goals set forth in the treatment plan.

Professional competent medical tourism facilitators coordinate care by organizing, securing, integrating and adapting existing clinical, travel, and destination resources needed for the client to reach the desired outcome.  

The medical tourism facilitator acts as the liaison between the client, their support system and/or caregivers, providers, and any third-party who will pay the bills incurred for services rendered.

Follow Up

During the follow-up phase the medical tourism facilitator gathers information from the patient, caregivers and all relevant sources.  They use this information to evaluate and determine the effectiveness of the treatment plan in moving the client toward the desired outcomes. Modifications are made to the plan as needed, and ongoing follow-ups determine the effectiveness of the modifications and treatments received. This is the point where value-based care is measured. 

Transitional Care

Errors often occur when patients are transferring from one health care setting to another, or home after a hospital or facility stay or an outpatient treatment intervention.

The medical tourism facilitator can reduce these errors by educating the client, their travel companion, and caregivers on post transition care and follow-up.

They are expected to fulfill professional duty and responsibility to help maintain continuity of care between care settings by relaying relevant information to the members of the new healthcare team.

In addition they arrange equipment such as hyperbaric oxygen chamber rentals after stem cell treatments or wound care, oxygen, compression garments, home or hotel care, or other needed services and equipment ensuring a smooth transition to home.

POST TRANSITION COMMUNICATION

Following a medical tourism episode of care, the facilitator must follow-up with both the client caregivers to determine how things are going.

Medication compliance, self care ability, adherence to follow-up appointments, utilization of home or hotel nursing care and physical or occupational outpatient therapies are some the the areas that should be evaluated and interpreted and recorded in the client record. Any issues or problems discovered are addressed during this phase and additional follow-ups are done to ensure resolution.

Evaluating Outcomes

This is where we assess the effectiveness of your services as the one making things easier and the results derived. It defines your value proposition and your impact and the care you coordinated relevant to your client’s condition.

The evaluation focuses  several areas including a financial evaluation, done with a cost-benefit analysis and return on investment, clinical outcomes, quality of life, client satisfaction, self-care management ability and knowledge of health conditions and plan of care. It involves critical analysis of what risk were encountered and mitigated with success, what went right, what went wrong, lessons learned, and continual improvement.

Now that you’ve read this infographic, you must determine if you are qualified and competent to offer medical tourism facilitator services. Because, if you cannot do these things, you cannot “be” a facilitator. You could be a sales representative. You can be an appointment setter. You can be a travel agent. You can be a lead sourcer. But you cannot measure up as a competent, qualified, professional medical tourism facilitator. No medical tourism certification you pursue in a 2-, 3-, or 5-day course for a few thousand dollars will transfer this knowledge or professional capacity to you in that time frame unless you are already medically trained as a nurse or other higher-level practitioner.

Perhaps you were unaware that the role of the medical tourism facilitator was as complex or knowledge intensive. Imagine the horror of knowing you “caused” or allowed harm to come to your client due to dereliction of professional duty.

Now add to this the entrepreneurial skills required to make a profit in business as a facilitator. 

  • How will you do this without creating undue risk of litigation, risk of brand damage associated with complaints, negative feedback in social media and directory websites, search engines, and media scandal or patient harm or avoidable risk? 
  • Where will you acquire the marketing, web creation content creation and branding knowledge to develop a professional services “product” that you offer for sale to the public? 
  • How will you market and promote your professional services product that fills a need and is priced affordably such that the general public in need of such services discovers and chooses to buy from you?  
  • How will you differentiate your business, your professionalism, and your value proposition from competitors?
  • How will you define your ideal customers?
  • Where will you learn all the regulatory and legal requirements of internet privacy and security to manage medical records transfer and handling? 
  • Where will you learn the marketing and advertising regulations of the country where you are located, the laws and regulations of the client’s home jurisdiction and the providers’ treatment jurisdiction? 
  • Where will you learn statistical analysis and report creation? If you are a clinician, where will you learn the travel component? 
  • How will you create contracts that memorialize the business relationship understandings between facilitator and client and facilitator and medical or travel or accommodation providers? 
  • How will you systematize qualifying criteria, standards of procedure, credentialing and privileging standards and criteria and verification procedures? 
  • What hotel standards and selection criteria will you adopt and implement? 
  • What taxi and livery standards and selection criteria will you adopt and implement? 
  • How will you assign and prioritize destinations of high altitude for certain procedures? 
  • How will you establish protocols for terms you don’t understand such as nosocomial infection mitigation or neutropenic precautions?
  • How will you evaluate technologies such as robotics used in certain procedures and the provider or facility standards that relate to use of those technologies or implants in the hands of surgeons and other specialists? How will you evaluate stem cell therapies for efficacy and proven standard of care for coordinated treatments?


As a trainer and consultant, I don’t sell “certifications” for medical tourism facilitators. I train and advise. I’ve also authored several textbooks that teach some of the business skills you’ll need as a medical tourism facilitator, but they are merely the tip of the iceberg.

You might consider undergraduate courses or vocational/technical training in:

  • anatomy and physiology
  • medical terminology
  • business management, accounting and business law
  • marketing, advertising, public relations, digital marketing
  • internet privacy and security standards and operations
  • statistics
  • geography
  • altitude physiology
  • travel agent certification through IATA-approved programs
  • physician credentialing and privileging
  • destination management, and more.
The books I authored assume you have most of this knowledge and then help you to apply certain new skills in the books to transform the basic skills and knowledge into a professional services business and product. You can purchase the books from the publisher or any online or retail bookseller. I don’t sell the books. That is the role of the publisher. I just create the content inside drawn from experience accumulated over more than 35 years in healthcare and medical tourism operations.

 

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