Medical tourism, blooming industry

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Medical tourism is a practice in which people travel abroad to get medical services because of lower cost and/or shorter waiting times. There is a misconception that these tourists are looking for a tan and a medical procedure. While this might be the case for some who are needing ambulatory procedures such as lab work, medical check ups or dental work, most travel specifically for a medical reason.

Patients come from developed countries to developing countries, primarily in Latin America and Asia. Better prices and quality doctors is what will put a country in the market and countries are known for being better than others in certain specialties. Panama competes in plastic surgery, dental work, in vitro fertilization and for being one of the only countries in the world offering stem cell treatment.

Panama is accredited

Joint Commission International (JCI), present in over 90 countries, is the international standard for patient safety and quality. Travelers worldwide feel safety when they know a hospital is accredited, which means that standards are up to par with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua).

Getting accredited is a rigorous process that takes years and requires modifications in procedures and practices. In 2011 Clinica Hospital San Fernando and Hospital Punta Pacifica, two Panamanian hospitals, received such accreditation, putting Panama on the map for medical tourism.

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