International Medical Travel Association elects new committee

 

The International Medical Travel Association (IMTA), the world’s first ever not-for-profit medical tourism industry association, has elected Ruben Toral as its new president, succeeding Steven Tucker, who remains on the executive committee.

Toral is a recognised authority in medical tourism and healthcare globalization. Formerly group marketing director for Bumrungrad International, Toral was instrumental in positioning Thailand and Bumrungrad International as a leading medical tourism destination.

Toral has more than 15 years’ experience in building healthcare brands, businesses and physician networks in Asia and Latin America. As chief executive of Mednet Asia he works with international hospitals, insurers, employers and information technology companies to develop global healthcare delivery networks. Originally from the USA, he now lives in Bangkok, Thailand.

Toral said: “IMTA already has a solid membership base that includes many of the world’s leading medical tourism destinations. My mission is to expand our association by focusing on core issues that drive worldwide medical travel. Medical travel continues to generate headlines as a cost effective option. As an association, we must help healthcare buyers understand that medical travel is not only a significantly less expensive option, but also, in many cases, a better one.”

Toral’s appointment is part of a larger initiative to re-energise and expand the IMTA.

A new executive committee includes vice-president Vishal Bali of Wockhardt Hospitals, secretary Jason Yap of Raffles Hospital, and treasurer Mack Banner of Bumrungrad International.

IMTA is a global organization of stakeholders in the international medical travel industry, representing leading healthcare providers, medical travel agencies and related industry service providers worldwide. IMTA supports the development of international industry standards and best practices that promote and advance medical quality, safety, and transparency for the international patient, and that preserve and protect the doctor-patient relationship.

IMTA was founded in 2006 and now has 40 full members who all have an active involvement in medical travel. Although seeking to expand membership, it is not prepared to offer membership to companies with little or no involvement in medical tourism, purely to generate income.

Although it sponsors and takes an active role in conferences on global healthcare and medical tourism, it does not see a need to be a conference organiser with a proliferation of conferences to produce income, which it does not need as all the executive are unpaid volunteers.

The association believes that with patient safety at stake, accreditation standards and processes must be vetted by internationally recognised accreditation organizations and government agencies. It has opposed trade groups and others seeking income by declaring themselves as accreditors or certification authorities as it creates market confusion. IMTA advocates that all international hospitals and other healthcare institutions be held to high standards, whether through a country’s own regulatory system or through internationally accepted standards set by recognised accreditation authorities.

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