Medical Tourism: Barbados’ Next Export Services Opportunity

American World Clinics (AWC), founded in 2011, and headquartered in Arizona, has a corporate mission to develop and operate surgical specialty hospitals and clinics around the world. Our business model is effectively the global exportation of U.S. style high quality surgical and medical care, primarily targeting medical tourists and those residents of emerging markets seeking […]

By Dr. Paul Angelchik

January 14, 2014

American World Clinics (AWC), founded in 2011, and headquartered in Arizona, has a corporate mission to develop and operate surgical specialty hospitals and clinics around the world. Our business model is effectively the global exportation of U.S. style high quality surgical and medical care, primarily targeting medical tourists and those residents of emerging markets seeking high quality private health care.   AWC’s model deploys the best in medical technology, facilities, and professionals with the majority of our physicians and surgeons being board certified U.S. trained doctors. We believe this model allows us to fulfill our mission without depleting physician and local medical infrastructure resources from host nation residents. Simultaneously, AWC is inclusive and endeavors to work with well qualified host nation physicians and ancillary staff.  Currently, AWC is engaged in development of medical facilities in Barbados, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. The old St. Joseph’s Hospital site in Ashton Hall, St. Peter is to be the site of the AWC medical campus on Barbados.

AWC has been working closely with Government leaders in Barbados to bring this 200 million USD project to fruition. Once the business matures, it is anticipated that Phase One of AWC-Barbados will directly add more than 450 million USD annually to the Barbadian economy based on medical and tourism activities and will employ more than 200 individuals at its campus with a focus on Bajan hires in both professional and support positions. Further, the AWC-Barbados facility will provide a significant augmentation and diversification of the  relatively small medical tourism market on Barbados, which is currently best known for the excellent outcomes produced by  Dr. Juliet Skinner and her staff at the Barbados Fertility Centre.

AWC has spent several years cultivating the Barbados market, working closely with government, business and the medical community, to develop a project that will not only position Barbados in a leadership role in international medicine and medical tourism, but will also provide significant FDI, ongoing foreign exchange, skilled employment, jumpstart  this new economic sector, and provide significant knowledge/technology transfer. I would hasten to add that we are ready to initiate the construction process as soon as final approvals are obtained from the GOB.  Given the current financial challenges facing Barbados, we are hopeful that the AWC project will help to reinvigorate the Barbados economy and provide motivation for other foreign investors to strongly consider Barbados. Our feeling since the beginning has been that regionally Barbados offers a number of distinct advantages for a clinical / life science investment of this type and magnitude.

AWC is part of a growing industry focused on delivering healthcare services to international travelers and the emerging markets. Often called Medical Tourists, these  individuals leave their home countries specifically for medical care. People travel for care for different reasons, including long waits to obtain needed care in their home country, a perceived lack of quality, limited access to the latest and best treatments and technology, and finally for cost savings. In an effort to control costs, universal care health systems ration care with resultant long wait times, reduced choice in treatment options and providers, and service mediocrity. According to McKinsey & Co. and Deloitte,  Medical Tourism  presently generates over 10 billion USD in revenue with a client base of  six to seven million individuals per annum. Double-digit growth is projected for the foreseeable future. The primary drivers for market  growth are 1) growing consumer dissatisfaction with overburdened, expensive health care systems in the West, for the reasons noted above, 2) the explosive growth of the middle class in the emerging markets and 3) technological advances – enhanced telecommunications, the ubiquitous presence of the internet, and  increasing ease of long distance travel . It is  estimated that by 2025 65-70% of global GDP will be generated outside of what is currently considered the developed world. Simultaneously the new middle class aspires to better health care as a desirable good utilizing part of the estimated 30 Trillion USD in discretionary income that will be at their disposal in this time frame.

AWC seeks to differentiate itself from other medical tourism operating entities in a number of ways, aimed at  faciliting the consumer’s ability to make a well informed decision about whether and where to engage in Medical Tourism, by providing excellent care, and by creating pleasant experiences for the patient and his or her companions.  AWC is specifically geared to meet the travel, health care, and recovery needs of international travelers and their companions. In our model, we become a one stop shop, allowing the patient and companion(s) travelers to book the episode of care as well as travel and necessary follow up care.  Unlike many hospitals catering to travelers, medical tourism is not an add-on for AWC; it is our core business. Secondly, AWC is predicated on the export of U.S. Medicine. That means a medical community composed primarily of U.S. trained board certified physicians with successful practice histories providing high quality care. The world is seeking better health care. The U.S. health care brand is strong and bringing this level of care in a consistent, replicable fashion to communities around the world is our corporate mission.  The health care market, like any other market, has many segments. No single solution will serve all patients and clients equally well. We can’t be all things to all people and there are many successfully, functioning aspects to the health care systems in many countries, including Barbados. Still,  approximately 600,000 people travel to the U.S. from other countries for medical treatment each year. They aren’t traveling to the most expensive health care system on the planet to save money. They are traveling because of a perception of quality, timely access, and high regulatory standards for medical professionals and institutions. However After 9/11 entry to the U.S. has become more restrictive for many travelers and with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), access by international patients may be further curtailed. AWC  views this restrictive environment as an opportunity to bring U.S. healthcare closer to home for these patients at substantially lower costs than in the U.S.A.

Finally, we have selected, proven, successful tourism  destinations that  already attract large numbers of visitors and have the right amenities for an enjoyable stay.

We attempt to leverage these great destinations via excellent service and thoughtfully designed facilities.

As the medical tourism industry and international health care in general continue to grow and mature, quality will be the final arbiter in determining the most successful organizations. AWC is working diligently to establish a global network of hospitals, surgical facilities and ambulatory clinics that will provide its patients and clients  transparency with objective published quality measures, an innovative, consistently excellent “door to door”  experience , superior  clinical outcomes, and electronic portability of  medical information. We hope to bring our brand of care to Barbados soon.

Dr. Paul Angelchik

Dr. Angelchik is an independent cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon and has served on the staff at numerous hospitals in the Phoenix, AZ area. He is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, is a member in good standing of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and is active in the Maricopa Medical Society, the Rocky Mountain Plastic Surgery Society and the American Cleft Palate Craniofacial Association. He has numerous Best Doctors in America recognitions, including being selected by his peers for inclusion in the Best Doctors in America database in 2009-2010 and again in 2011-2012.