The globalisation of healthcare
By Dr Joseph F. E. Straus
The enhanced availability of information and communication via the internet, are leading to a growing international trade in healthcare services.
Not only the new possibilities, the internet provided, but - more generally, ‘the flattening of the world’, in the words of Thomas Friedman - strengthens the the trade in healthcare services.
The cross-border demand for high quality, specialty services is being fuelled not only by individual patients, but also, importantly, by multinational corporations that are increasingly globalising their business processes and presence, and seeking optimal healthcare services and solutions for their global workforces. This demand has given rise to an international healthcare industry dedicated to facilitating the international exchange of specialty and high quality healthcare services
Executives of many of the main players in this sector and some of their corporate clients met at the 4th annual Healthcare Across Borders Conference in Frankfurt, Germany (25-27 September). Participants from around the world included representatives of hospitals and other healthcare service providers; (re)-insurance companies; assistance companies; third party administrators and cost containment firms, as well as investors and industry consultants. Multinational employers were represented by their global benefits specialists and international medical leaders. The conference addressed a broad range of international healthcare finance and delivery matters.
The meeting opened with a timely and compelling workshop on healthcare services in China, and featured concurrent breakout tracks for international benefits specialists, and medical officers of multinational corporations. A third track was dedicated to topical issues concerning the emerging global marketplace for healthcare services.
For executives of leading hospitals and healthcare services providers, this vertically integrated business development meeting provided a unique setting in which to consider the implications of the growing international demand for healthcare services, and the development of international markets. This international demand is creating new opportunities in terms of cross-border patient care, and also in terms of international benchmarking and collaboration in the realm of research, education, administration, and the financing and delivery of health services.
Three keynote presentations by Suneetha Reddy of the Apollo Hospitals Group, based in India; Professor Per-Gunnar Svensson, Director General of the International Hospital Federation; and Professor Jonathan Halevy, Director General of the Shaare Zedek Medical Centre in Jerusalem, highlighted future perspectives and various current issues facing the international hospital/
provider sector, which is really the ‘hub’ of the international healthcare industry.
Professor Halevy’s powerful presentation in particular, on hospital preparedness for mass casualty incidents, was an excellent example of the opportunity that the conference offered to explore global best practices in the industry. As the major medical centre closest to downtown Jerusalem, the Shaare Zedek Hospital has borne the brunt of the aftermath of the many terrorist attacks in the city, mostly in the period 2000-2004. Based on the hospital’s experience, Halevy provided an authoritative and often touching overview of lessons gleaned and current hard-learned practices, which may serve as a model for hospitals elsewhere.
The overall conference message was that the international demand for, and delivery of specialty healthcare services will provide exciting new opportunities, in terms of markets as well as global benchmarking and collaborations.
Further information: Conference Chairman Joseph Straus MD MBA, Principal, Raphael Medical, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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