Foreign Medicine, Part 2 - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Foreign Medicine, Part 2

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by Janjeera Hail

It's no secret that seeing a doctor, whether it be for a routine check-up or a serious surgical procedure, can take its toll on a patient's nerves.  And for many local patients who cannot receive the specialized care they need on Guam, the stress of traveling is an added burden.

But as the demand for services overseas specifically in the Philippines grows, so do the efforts of companies to alleviate the stress of medical travel.  

As more and more patients look to the Philippines for service, local and off-island companies are working on making that transition smoother.  One of the major concerns with any type of travel is the language barrier. But in the Philippines, where one of the official languages is English, it's one less thing to worry about.

Steve Nygard has gone to the PI for several medical trips, and tells KUAM News, "None of this would work if we didn't trust the professionalism of doctors in the Philippines. I know all the ones that I've come in contact with have been graduates of major universities in the United States, so we've built up a good trust with the doctors in the Philippines."

Frank Campillo, health plan administrator for Calvo's SelectCare, says that four years ago about 70% of off-island referrals were to the mainland. That number has since reversed - it's now about 70% to the Philippines and only 30% to the U.S. The change is so dramatic that SelectCare has established three offices in the Philippines to meet the demand for services in that country.

"One in Makati and two at the St. Luke's Medical Center," explained Campillo.  "And the reason for that is to basically provide continuing care to our members, ensure that they have the ability to get appointments as they wish in the manner that goes efficient for everybody."

And this effort to provide convenience is being met on the other side, as well.  Medical City, a hospital in the Philippines, has opened up an office locally.  Patients thinking about receiving services in the Philippines can make a majority of their arrangements at the local office before ever setting foot on an airplane.  And, the help that the Guam office provides goes beyond just scheduling appointments and listing price quotes.

Vice-president of Medical City Rene Quintans told KUAM News, "When it comes to transportation we can arrange that transportation to hotels and accommodations. We also do as far as our office is concerned, for a deposit, a cell phone."

Local and Filipino companies are recognizing the demand for services and until on-island medical options become competitive that's a trend that'll only get bigger.

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