Editor’s Note: The recent news of the strategic alliance between Patients Beyond Borders®, the world’s leading source of consumer and industry information about international health travel, and Medeguide™, caught my interest. A seemingly great marketing tool for providers and facilities and a much-needed resource for consumers considering medical travel, I thought the partnership worthy of a little more exploration and understanding. Thankfully both Josef Woodman and Ruben Toral were available and willing to share some additional insight into this unique alliance.
Medical Travel Today (MTT): What brought Patients Beyond Borders and Medeguide together?
Josef Woodman (JW): Aside from market opportunity, our companies have worked with each other for many years, with shared clients and parallel projects. We possess the trust and shared experience essential to any successful strategic relationship.
MTT: Why is it important to have the best hospitals and the best doctors on one searchable site?
JW: As consumer demand increases for quality, affordable options in healthcare, along with the rising volume of international medical treatment alternatives, so does the number of start-up third parties, poorly managed information portals and so on. Patients Beyond Borders and Medeguide formed this alliance to provide a one-stop shop for branded, trusted, vetted information on top doctors and leading international hospitals around the world, searchable by facility, practitioner, specialty, procedure and destination.
MTT: How will patients access this information?
Ruben Toral (RT): Healthcare consumers will be able to access the international doctor directory, as well as information on destinations and procedures, view doctor profiles, request appointments and read real patient stories through both the existing Medeguide and Patients Beyond Borders websites. Access via mobile and light devices will follow. Patients accessing either site will seamlessly navigate through the easily searchable pages where they will have access to a rich offering of content and data required to make important, often life changing, medical decisions.
MTT: You’ve said the market is currently underserved. Can you elaborate?
RT: There’s a huge need to connect the rapid rise in quality healthcare with the “affluence boom,” particularly in North, South and Southeast Asia, where two billion people will rise into the Middle Class over the next few years. Online applications that originated in the US—such as eTrade, TripAdvisor, Facebook—quickly migrated around the world. The very robust healthcare ecosystem outside the US will soon adopt online and mobile applications as well, where models already exist in the US in the form of Healthgrades, ZocDoc, WebMD. We have a jump on a market where barriers to entry are formidable.
MTT: Is your alliance unique?
JW: Yes. While many online opportunities exist to connect patients with certified healthcare providers and top facilities in the US through the likes of US News & World Report’s Best Hospitals, currently no enterprise offers a comprehensive, branded listing of medical facilities and doctors throughout Asia, Latin America, Europe and the US. Merging our respective product lines creates a robust offering that allows patients everywhere to search hundreds of leading international hospitals and thousands of the world’s best doctors without having to visit multiple websites or access multiple points of contact.
MTT: Will this alliance change Patients Beyond Borders current model?
JW: No. Patients Beyond Borders will continue to serve as international health travel’s “neutral overseer” providing independent, trusted third party information and data to healthcare consumers and industry leaders. We will continue to publish books, eBooks, apps, videography and online information on medical and wellness travel. Likewise, Medeguide will continue to build on its enviable base of top, vetted doctors and surgeons worldwide.
MTT: How will this alliance be beneficial to the global healthcare sector?
RT: By being the best game in town. Providers, carriers and healthcare third parties alike are struggling in today’s economy competing for their slice of the global healthcare pie while working with smaller budgets and a reduced work force. By creating one entity, we focus our core efforts on helping healthcare providers deploy new, cost-efficient technologies, implement new communications and transactional tools, and cultivate patient relationships through social networking and mobile device applications. At the same time, we will continue to provide consumers with the most trusted brands for healthcare search and purchase decision-making.
MTT: When will patients have access to the benefits of your new alliance?
RT: Early summer of this year. Stay tuned.
About Josef Woodman
Josef Woodman, CEO and author of Patients Beyond Borders, has spent more than five years touring 150 medical facilities in 30 countries, researching medical tourism and global healthcare. Woodman’s pioneering background in health, publishing, and web technology has allowed him to compile a wealth of information about global health travel, telemedicine, and consumer-directed healthcare demand. Woodman is an outspoken advocate of affordable, high-quality medical care for healthcare consumers worldwide.
About Ruben Toral
Ruben Toral, founder and CEO of Medeguide, is a recognized expert in healthcare marketing, medical tourism, and healthcare globalization. Toral, former group marketing director for Bumrungrad International Hospital and past president of the International Medical Travel Association, has more than 17 years of experience working with doctors and physician networks around the world.