medical tourism

m
EpubTurner LG. Beyond ‘medical tourism’: Canadian companies marketing medical travel. Global Health. 2012 Jun 15;8(1):16.

BACKGROUND: Despite having access to medically necessary care available through publicly funded provincial health care systems, some Canadians travel for treatment provided at international medical facilities as well as for-profit clinics found in several Canadian provinces. Canadians travel abroad for orthopaedic surgery, bariatric surgery, ophthalmologic surgery, stem cell injections, “Liberation therapy” for MS, and additional interventions. Both responding to public interest in medical travel and playing an important part in promoting the notion of a global marketplace for health services, many Canadian companies market medical travel.

METHODS: Research began with the goal of locating all medical tourism companies based in Canada. Various strategies were used to find such businesses. During the search process it became apparent that many Canadian business promoting medical travel are not medical tourism companies. To the contrary, numerous types of businesses promote medical travel. Once businesses promoting medical travel were identified, content analysis was used to extract information from company websites. Company websites were analyzed to establish: 1) where in Canada these businesses are located; 2) the destination countries and health care facilities that they market; 3) the medical procedures they promote; 4) core marketing messages; and 5) whether businesses market air travel, hotel accommodations, and holiday tours in addition to medical procedures.

RESULTS: Searches conducted from 2006 to 2011 resulted in identification of 35 Canadian businesses currently marketing various kinds of medical travel. The research project began with what seemed to be the straightforward goal of establishing how many medical tourism companies are based in Canada. Refinement of categories resulted in the identification of eighteen businesses fitting the category of what most researchers would identify as medical tourism companies. Seven other businesses market regional, cross-border health services available in the United States and intranational travel to clinics in Canada. In contrast to medical tourism companies, they do not market holiday tours in addition to medical care. Two companies occupy a narrow market niche and promote testing for CCSVI and “Liberation therapy” for MS. Three additional companies offer bariatric surgery and cosmetic surgery at facilities in Mexico. Four businesses offer health insurance products intended to cover the cost of obtaining privately financed health care in the U.S. These businesses also help their clients arrange treatment beyond Canada’s borders. Finally, one medical travel company based in Canada markets health services primarily to U.S. citizens.

CONCLUSIONS: This article uses content analysis of websites of Canadian companies marketing medical travel to provide insight into Canada’s medical travel industry. The article reveals a complex marketplace with different types of companies taking distinct approaches to marketing medical travel.



“Interesting that Liberation Therapy has become big business, despite a lack of evidence base to support it. This is despite the FDA and other informed societies and opinion leaders warning against  this treatment outside of clinical trials.”

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.

18 comments

  • Liberation therapy, the snake oil de nos jours. Depressing to see so many hucksters trying to leech off desperate people. It's just one scam after another, dodgy stem cell quacks, alternative therapies that will "cure" your MS and now "liberation therapy". All trying to lighten the wallets of MSers.
    I think we should organise a competition to see who can predict the next "breakthrough" these con-merchants come up with.

  • One should notice that ccsvi theory not only proposes a new kind of treatment, but for the first time a different, clear and testable explanatory mechanism. On the contrary, all other "alternative therapies" work their way within the autoimmune hypothesis.

    But MD2 has already reached his verdict. Such a certainty also needs irrefutable evidence, or else its just a personal taste.

  • Cat – I think the lady you refer to is Terry Whals, Interesting Mouse Doc sent me that same video – and the thing is I think she has good science behind her theories.

    It isn't just 'juicing' – there is significant evidence that the boost of mitochondrial action her change in diet creates can have significant health benefits. I was on a real downward spire last year, took up her kale diet with a mission and went into 6 months of good health. I then stopped eating as she advised and, low and behold, I am back in the doldrums now.

    Now all of that might be circumstantial, but the point is this: her work is backed up with science. The trouble is no one will fund a diet based major Phase III trial.

    The question I think is worth asking is this: does a shift in mitochondria function also cause a change in the bodies reaction to viruses? This could be a useful field for the Drs here to examine.

    For instance, we know that EBV has an impact on mitochondrial cells…

    And we know that EBV is linked to MS.

    So if we address the damage of EBV on mitochondria – can this be a useful and holistic way of managing disease progression?

    I believe it could do.

  • VV,
    The thing is and I'm sure you're well aware that as more trials are reported, the evidence for CCSVI as a causative agent for MS becomes ever more scarce. Though as a believer I guess none of the evidence will ever be irrefutable enough for you.

  • "the evidence for CCSVI as a causative agent for MS becomes ever more scarce"

    I hope you don't refer to the fully occluded Baracchini vein or the ultrasound studies. You may remember that Diaconu concluded that:

    "However, the frequency of intraluminal abnormalities with possible hemodynamic consequences was higher in MS patients compared to healthy controls, although the current sample size is limited."
    (ECTRIMS 2011)

    You may also check out the impact of ccsvi procedure on blood flow speed here:

    http://www.vascularweb.org/educationandmeetings/2012%20Vascular%20Annual%20Meeting/programindetail/Pages/Saturday,%20June%209%20Abstracts/SS29.aspx

    ps. a believer has a mental relation to his belief. I have a physical one, therefore i am a witness.

  • VV
    I note you don't refer to any of the numerous (and increasing) negative studies but continue to blather on about the few studies that support your position. It's about weight of evidence and that weight is increasingly against CCSVI of which I'm sure you are aware but continue to ignore. As you don't seem to rate any of our research either, I wonder why you continue to visit this site?

  • Most of the negative studies are ultrasound studies, with inherent subjectivism and bias. 100 ultrasound studies are lighter than a single venography study or an anatomical study.
    It is like taking the word of an astronomer regarding the surface of the moon instead of believing the astronaut that walked on it. After all the ultrasound studies told us that they DID NOT find something, not the opposite. There are 1000 ways and reasons NOT to find something.

    The anatomical study above clearly states that there is something going on in the veins of MSers. There is also the Albany venography study with 94% rate of venous anomalies in MSers.

    Since there are some venography studies available why bother with ultrasound studies. I would gladly discuss them with you, especially if you could tell me your opinion on the Baracchini "healthy" vein.

  • Ah, the negative studies have "inherent subjectivism and bias" yet the positive studies don't, yet are in fact far more likely as there are financial conflicts of interest in many cases. There is no point in any further discussion.

  • There is always some point in discussion provided that both parties read each others comments carefully.

  • "If parties read each others comments carefully".

    Pot and Kettle..me thinks.

    I have asked Baracchini to comment on "healthy" vein..get and answer, you get an answer, no answer you don't

  • MD, since you contacted him, why don't you ask him about Figure 1, also. Let him explain us why the upper valve leaflet in images a, b and c is virtually immobile while the lower one moves all the way to the vein wall.

    I would expect you to consult some other radiologist too. We can predict that Baracchini will support his research.

    Dare i foresee the argument: "the contrast media is filling the jugular vein during the time that the valves are closed."

  • "yet are in fact far more likely as there are financial conflicts of interest in many cases"

    I believe you have in mind something like the following (guess where it's from):

    "C.B. has received compensation for being a board member,expert testimony, payment for development of educational
    presentations including service on speakers’ bureaus, and has had travel/accommodations expenses covered or reimbursed by Pfizer, Guidotti, Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis.
    M.C. has been a member of the board of Merk-Serono,Sanofi-Aventis, and Bayer-Shering; a consultant for Merk-Serono and Sanofi-Aventis; given expert testimony for Biogen-Dompe Italy and Bayer-Shering; received honoraria
    from Merk-Serono, Sanofi-Aventis, and Bayer-Shering; and had travel/accommodations expenses covered or reimbursed by Biogen-Dompe Italy, Merk-Serono, Sanofi-Aventis, and
    Bayer-Shering.
    P.G. has been a member of the board of
    Novartis, Biogen-Elan, Merk-Serono, Sanofi-Aventis, and Bayer-Shering; has been a consultant for Biogen-Elan,
    Sanofi-Aventis, and Bayer-Shering; has given expert testimony for Biogen-Dompe Italy, Sanofi-Aventis, and Merk-Serono; has received honoraria from Novartis Farma, Biogen-Elan, Sanofi-Aventis, Merk-Serono, and Bayer-Shering; and has had travel/accommodations expenses
    covered or reimbursed by University of Padova, Novartis Farma, Sanofi-Aventis, Biogen-Dompe Italy, Merk-Serono, and Bayer-Shering.
    P.P. has received honoraria from Biogen-Dompe Italy, Sanofi-Aventis, and Merk-Serono; and has had travel/accommodations expenses covered or reimbursed by Sanofi-Aventis, Biogen-Dompe Italy, and Merk-Serono.
    "

  • "I would expect you to consult some other radiologist too".

    This type of order is not acceptable …….I do not exist to be your personal consultant!!!!!

    and now you will never know the answer to the Baracchini response as I can no longer be bothered to respond to…… you are a

  • Calm down, MD,it's not good for your blood pressure you know CCSVI and VV winds you up. Scientific argument is not going to convince VV and you only start to attract trolls even discussing it

  • Exactly – we ladies need your wonderful brains for MS so please stop wasting your precious time & energy on unproductive nonsense discussion.

  • If this was facebook I would click like for the last comment ('please stop wasting your precious time…')

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