Friday, September 5, 2014

Puerto Rico: San Juan Proposed as Medical Tourism Center, But What About Malpractice Percentages?

According to The Latin American TribunePuerto Rico on Tuesday (September 2) presented its strategy for promoting itself as a medical tourism destination, especially among the Hispanic population of the Caribbean and the US East Coast, to whom it will offer medical care ranging from dental treatment to liposuction or weight-loss surgery at prices that can be as much as 60% lower than on the Mainland.

“Puerto Rico has a privileged situation in this market,” said the secretary of Economic Development and Trade, Alberto Baco, during the presentation of the plan.

The Puerto Rican administration says that it commissioned a market study from which it deduces that medical costs on the island are between 40-60% lower than on the Mainland.

Officials in San Juan are confident that about 3,000 jobs, which is expected to serve some 30,000 patients over the next three years.

COMMENT: It is no surprise to anyone that Puerto Rico is essentially "broke," and additionally faces a roughly 15% unemployment rate.

Although the opinions of laymen and tourism providers are well and good, in a world abundant with medical malpractice claims, it would be useful to hear from the American Medical Association in San Juan as to the number of malpractice claims filed in Puerto Rico against the number of licensed board-certified specialists in the Commonwealth?

Consequently, it would be useful to know just what percentage of board-certified physicians receive medical malpractice claims annually?

Needless to say, it would be comforting to hear from the American Medical Association in Puerto Rico that the risks of medical malpractice in the Commonwealth are no different than they are on the Mainland.

To achieve those figures, and the resulting estimated revenue of some $200 million over that three-year period, Puerto Rico must make itself known as a healthcare destination that is also able to compete with Latin America.

“It’s a new sector in Puerto Rico, which is going to create business: It’s going to (require) more hotels, like those in Bayamon and Manati, which are receiving many people,” Baco said.

“Whomever travels to have surgery doesn’t do it alone. They always go accompanied by one or two people, at a minimum, and often they remain for some additional days for the patient’s rehabilitation,” said the director of the island’s tourism agency, Ingrid Rivera.

Mr. Baco acknowledged that Puerto Rico cannot compete in price with other places in Latin America, but he noted that people who travel to receive medical care are not motivated only by cost-savings.

“It’s true that we’re more expensive than Latin America, but we’re a US jurisdiction, which means that we offer more security and guarantees,” he said.

“When you’re going to have surgery, your main concern is going to be the training of the doctor,” Rivera said. “The majority of our doctors have studied in the US and our hospitals are accredited and certified by Medicare, just like those in the US.”