Venice Declaration on Medical Travel in Europe

 

The European medical travel industry has issued the “Declaration of Venice” supporting the rights of European Union citizens to travel for health care services. The declaration was one of the key outcomes of the European Medical Travel Conference 2010 in Monastier, near Venice, Italy.

Drafted by a group of medical travel experts, the Venice Declaration calls for public tourism organizations to encourage greater cooperation and synergies between the tourism and health sectors. Medical travel services should be assisted through the provision of additional health services for tourists. The declaration stresses the need for stakeholders to collaborate more effectively in integrating elements of the health and travel sectors by investing greater resources to improve quality, customer orientation and the healing competency of health services.

The Declaration of Venice also calls for improved quality of medical travel agencies and service providers, as well as greater emphasis on patient safety; follow up care in their home countries; cross-border case management executed by medical professionals; patient referral and re-referral systems to guarantee continuity of care; economic models that protect patients from fraud and corruption; and the availability of inexpensive no-fault medical malpractice coverage.

The main points of the declaration;
• The right of citizens to travel to receive access to better health care services.
• The need for global health systems to respond better to the needs of increasingly mobile citizens seeking the best quality, most timely, most cost-effective, and convenient medical treatment and healing capacity in Europe and throughout the world.
• The need to integrate better health and tourism services by investing more resources to improve quality, customer orientation, and healing competency of health services.
• The need for controllable patient safety.

Attendees at the Venice conference signed the declaration in a bid to affirm the rights of citizens of European Union states to travel and request and receive medical care and treatment. Key statements by the signees:
• Recognise the need for health systems worldwide to provide improved responses to the health care needs of increasingly mobile citizens who look to obtain the best quality, most timely, most cost-effective, and most conveniently located medical treatment and healing capacity available in Europe and throughout the world.
• Stress the need to encourage stakeholders to collaborate more effectively in integrating elements of the health and travel sectors together.
• Agree the need for a combination of a sound infrastructure, high quality medical facilities, and a healthy environment to provide to citizens high standard destinations for medical reasons.
• Want the quality of tourist attractions to be balanced by high quality medical facilities.
• Recognize that the main motivating factor for citizens looking abroad for medical treatment is access to health care, value; and outcomes for healing.
• Aagree that access to medical travel services should be encouraged through the provision of additional health services for tourists.
• Believe that public tourism organizations should encourage greater cooperation and synergies between the tourism and health sectors.
• Want equal access for tourists, whether in good or poor health.
• See the need for patient safety to be made a top priority.
• Agree that patients' rights must be recognized.
• Want patients to have neutral medical professional guidance for the selection of their services.
• Agree that for patient safety there is a need for:
- effective medical follow-up of patients on their return to the home country;
- cross-border case management executed by medical professionals;
- patient referral and re-referral systems that guarantee continuity of care;
• Countries and regions should invest greater resources to improve the quality, customer orientation, and healing competency of hospital and tourism services.

More important than the detailed wording, is that key players in the European medical travel industry are in agreement on the way forward. This may encourage European politicians to take the medical tourism industry seriously, as they may listen to a concerted lobby; they have not listened to individual countries or organizations that they see as promoting national interests. 

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