Physical Enhancement Center Makes a Bid for Medical Tourism

Article excerpt

Byline: BIBSY M. CARBALLO

WITH the recent opening of St. Luke's Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Center, we are told that the country will certainly share in the burgeoning number of patients here and abroad requiring various procedures for physical enhancement.

Recognizing this potential for Medical Tourism, the Department of Tourism launched its Philippine Medical Tourism Program early in January this year. With its theme of "Philippine Islands of Wellness," the program aims at making the country the new center of wellness and medical care in Asia.

We see this as a goal that could very well be within reach with St. Luke's Medical Center at the forefront, being the only full medical tourism partner of the DOH to date, upon which it conferred the Gintong Sigla Seal of Approval. To merit the Gintong Sigla, the facility should have passed the close scrutiny of the Joint Commission International (JCI) which sets worldwide standards in the medical and healthcare professions. To date, St. Luke's is the first and only JCI accredited healthcare facility in the Philippines.

The American Society of Plastic Surgery reported that last year, close to eleven and a half million cosmetic plastic surgery procedures were performed in the US. A trend has been observed, however, where patients going in for aesthetic or cosmetic enhancement would like to combine it with a holiday in a country with medical facilities at par, if not better than in their own countries.

Dr. Rene Valerio, Chairman of the Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Center observes that for years now prior to the opening of the Center, 70% of his own patients came from abroad. This was at a time before the term Medical Tourism came into use.

This was also before websites and aggressive marketing put medical services quickly available to the internet surfer. Dr. Valerio is the only Philippine-based Filipino plastic surgeon who is an active member of the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. He feels that his overseas patients came through this corridor; then through referrals of satisfied clients, and then through word of mouth.

With the "Philippine Islands of Wellness" now firmly entrenched, there will no longer be any need for word of mouth, although a first-person endorsement is always the best sales pitch one could get. …