The IMTA seeks to bring together writers in the industry

 

The International Medical Travel Association (IMTA) brings together the healthcare and travel industries to help create a high-quality, ethical and economically sustainable medical-travel industry as well as to preserve and protect the doctor-patient relationship, all in the interests of the international patient.

The IMTA seeks to represent the interests of medical travellers and the medical-travel industry including both the healthcare providers and those who facilitate medical travel. As global healthcare choices expand, patients will increasingly travel across the world for access to better and more affordable healthcare.

The IMTA works to promote and protect the safety and well-being of patients (medical travellers) through the development of industry networks, creation and distribution of knowledge, sharing of best practices, establishment of standards and eventually accreditation with industry self-regulation.

The members come from an array of countries such as the US, Australia, the UK, Turkey, India, Nigeria, UAE, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, representing various medical travel-related sectors like healthcare providers, travel agents, medical concierges, publishers of medical travel publications, national tourism offices, insurance companies and media companies.

Medical travel encompasses a number of different phenomena, from elective surgery, to medical travel. A patient might travel from North America to Asia for a purely elective procedure as part of a holiday or even have the procedure attached to a holiday. Alternatively, a patient can travel from Bangladesh to Singapore for a second opinion on metastatic breast cancer. The industry needs to be flexible enough to deal with, support and care for not just these scenarios, but a thousand others.

The IMTA aims to begin brokering the discussion among all the parties involved in medical travel. We want to discover where the industry needs to strengthen patient care and assign specific responsibilities to the individuals involved in global medical travel. We have to respect patients’ rights, and both patients and doctors need to understand that medicine is fraught with complications. Making medical travel a tourism product in the traditional sense is not the aim of the IMTA. These are serious medical procedures.

Through education, patients are going to learn where quality medical care occurs.

Unfortunately, developing nations still do not have adequate resources for contemporary healthcare in the fields of cardiology, oncology and other specialties. As a result, patients need to travel to get access to quality health care. An important goal is to assist developing countries in providing both access to quality and affordable health care and helping in its development.

This entails codifying medical resources, taking control of patient flow and helping facilities in those countries on how to best provide care that will allow providers and the travel industry to begin to move more of the resources currently used in sending patients abroad back to the local environment.

In an ideal world, it would be better for all patients to be treated as close to home as    possible.

It should be recognised that in the short term, medical travel entails patients travelling out of their own community to seek medical help in another country, for various reasons; but a long-term aim should be for care to be put back into the local environment so that not only can those companion travellers and carers continue to work, but hospitals will be able to create infrastructure and bring value to and benefit the local community.

A final aim, therefore, is to use medical travel today as a mechanism for diffusing quality health care globally for tomorrow. I hope you will join us in helping to make the IMTA a success for the future.

Membership enquiries, contact

Felicia Tan ([email protected])

FURTHER CONTENT PUBLISHED BY THIS AUTHOR

Tracking quality

Articles, 08 April, 2008

IMTA's open letter to the industry to better measure quality in medical travel

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