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Published on : Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Colombia, like many other countries, which have seen huge improvements in safety and tourism, decided they wanted in on the action of medical tourism. In Colombia and other countries they’ve been building facilities specifically designed for medical tourists. But the numbers have not quite met the projections.
International medical tourism is big business worldwide. Emerging economies like India and Thailand lead the way as top destinations for people looking for high quality care at a fraction of the cost back home.
Lately, countries closer to the U.S. are also trying to break into the market — such as Colombia — which until recently was better known for drug trafficking than nose jobs.
Not long ago, when the global economy was booming, analysts were saying Americans were pouring out of the country for medical procedures. One projection said the number would reach almost 11 million annually by 2013.
Colombia, which has seen huge improvements in safety and tourism, decided they wanted in on the action. Since then, they’ve been building facilities specifically designed for medical tourists.
San Vicente de Rionegro is a new hospital, less than two years old. It is located on a country road in the lush, green hills outside downtown Medellin. The middle of nowhere, really, except that it’s only a few minutes drive from the city’s international airport — perfect for international patients.
The facility is massive, but San Vicente only focuses on six surgical specialties ranging from organ transplants to cosmetic procedures, all of which are popular with medical tourists.
“If you want to be one of the best hospitals in the world, you have to start with a facility like this one,” says Dr. Sergio Franco, the head of cardiovascular surgery at San Vicente.
Franco says foreign patients come here to get the same quality services that they’d find in the U.S., but with a more caring approach and at a fraction of the cost.
One patient said a heart surgery that he needed would have cost as much as $286,000 in Houston. In Colombia, it was only $26,000.