We’ve moved!

December 15, 2010

As the Novasans website is launched, we have also moved the Novasans blog to the Website. To follow us in the future, and to keep yourself updated on the latest news in the Medical Tourism Industry, please VISIT THE NOVASANS BLOG HERE!

Personalized Orthopaedic Surgeries With Computer Technologies Possible

October 21, 2010

Soon, personalized orthopaedic surgeries will be made possible through new computer-based technologies and surgical techniques according to new research, which was presented at an educational program at Hospital for Special Surgery on October 15 and 16. During the event, prominent orthopaedic researchers discussed how innovative technologies can improve surgical outcomes.

Currently, knee replacement often results in a pain-free new joint; however, the prosthetic joint usually does not function as well as a normal, non-arthritic knee. Dr. Andrew D. Pearle, explains; “Innovative computer-based technologies will further improve surgeries that have been optimized using manual tools. Newer techniques will improve the patient experience by increasing the durability of joint implants and by quickening the recovery time from less-invasive surgeries.”

During the meeting, orthopaedic surgeons presented how the newest technologies can further improve the accuracy and reliability of clinical judgements during technically challenging operations, such as knee resurfacing and total joint replacements. Some new innovative techniques, such as interactive robotics and computer-assisted surgical navigation, are already in limited use at some medical facilities. Newer robotic systems will also allow surgeons to preoperatively plan highly accurate procedures based on metrics such as individual bone structure and its composition. This is something that has not been possible before. Through this, surgeons would be able to carry out orthopaedic operations with a much more precise accuracy, something that can never be matched using just manual techniques.

These new techniques will be less invasive more accurate and provide a better long-term outcome.

Three Healthy Habits Cut Breast Cancer Risk, New Study Finds

October 21, 2010

Women who maintain certain so called breast-healthy habits can lower their risk of breast cancer. The three most important healthy habits to do so are the following:

  • Engage in regular physical activity
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Drink alcohol in moderation

“Whether or not you have a family history, the risk of breast cancer was lower for women engaged in these three sets of behavior compared to women who were not” said study leader Dr. Robert Grambling, associate professor of family medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. Grambling wanted to look at the effects of lifestyle habits on breast cancer risk in particular as he suspect that some women with a family history of breast cancer may believe that their risk is out of their control, which is now contradicted.

To do this, Dr. Gramling and his team analyzed data on U.S. women aged 50-79 from the Women’s Health Initiative study starting in 1993. During the 5.4 years of follow up, almost 2,000 women were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. This is what he found:

  • When following the guidelines, about 6 of every 1,000 women developed breast cancer over a year’s time.
  • Circa 7 of every 1,000 women developed breast cancer each year if they had a late-onset family history and followed none of the behaviors.
  • 3.5 of every 1,000 women developed breast cancer among the women without a family history who followed the three habits.
  • 4.6 of every 1,000 women developed breast cancer among the women without a family history who followed none of the habits.

Gramling hopes that his research will reverse the thinking of women whose mother or sister had breast cancer who sometimes believe that they are doomed to develop the disease, too. And the results are supported by other experts. Dr. Susan Gapstur, vice president of the epidemiology research program at the American Cancer Society, says “The results of this study show that both women with a family history (late-onset) and without will benefit from maintaining a healthy weight and exercising, and consuming lower amounts of alcohol, limiting their alcohol consumption.”
The findings were published online on Oct. 12 in the journal Breast Cancer Research.

Infertility Put on the EU Agenda

October 14, 2010

Many European infertility patients are currently very limited in their choice for medically assisted reproduction treatment, experts criticized last week at the European Health Forum Gastein. Instead, many patients are forced to seek fertility treatment outside their home countries.

The European Health Forum Gastein (EHFG) is the most important conference on healthcare policy in the EU, and during last night’s meeting, experts from the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) stressed the current limitation for medically assisted reproduction (MAR) treatment.

The EHFG conference attracted about 600 decision-makers from more than 40 countries in the healthcare, research and business field, where political, industrial, professional and patient perspectives highlighted the problems related to MAR regulation in Europe. The regulatory diversity in MAR is mainly attributed to cultural, religious, social, moral and ethical attitudes, that varies across the EU member states.

Demand for infertility treatment on the rise in Europe

A recent survey by ESHRE found that 494,599 treatment cycles were performed in Europe in 2006, compared to 203,893 cycles ten years earlier. The number of clinics reporting to the survey increased from 482 to more than the double; 1,016 during the same period. In several European countries, 2-5% of children are born after fertility treatment, with every one in six couples seeking some sort of medical assistance in order to receive pregnancy. The ESHRE estimates that 30,000 couples seek treatment outside their home countries each year!

Clare Lewis Jones, Chair of Fertility Europe explains; “Due to the inequality of reimbursement and treatment unavailability, many patients seek treatment outside their home country, often putting themselves and their unborn babies at risk.” Joan-Carles Arce, Vice President of R&D at Ferring Pharmaceuticals continues “Less restrictive reimbursement policies leading to increased accessibility and use of MAR would be incentives for the industry to increase development efforts in this area. In addition, funding of academia-industry collaborations would stimulate further research within MAR and facilitate that new treatment concepts are being developed and subsequently put into clinical practice. It would also have a beneficial impact on the drug development activities if pricing and reimbursement authorities rewarded innovation.”

Europe is still very heterogeneous in its approach to MAR and fertility treatments. With no attempt to look over the current regulations in some of the EU member states, European patients are still compelled to go abroad for treatment.

Saudis to Get Hospital Service Abroad

October 13, 2010

 

Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah

Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah

 

The Saudi Arabian Minster of Health, Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, recently announced the launch of specialized treatment facilities in Malaysia and Singapore for Saudis in a move aimed at providing top quality medical and clinical services for Saudi citizens. The Saudi government has now signed two agreements with the US-owned HCA Hospitals and Parkway Ltd in Singapore, two agreements which according to Al-Rabeeah are “a quality shift that would simplify the treatment of Saudis abroad until their return home in a totally professional and scientific manner under the framework of an integrated program.”

The two agreements involves an exchange of doctors and nurses, bringing Malaysian and Singaporean staff to Saudi Arabia under a doctors’ visiting program, particularly to hospitals in remote areas. He continues, “It will also improve the ministry’s recently launched home care service, single-day surgeries and health administration”.

The HCA owns six hospitals and a number of centers for marrow and organ transplants, stem cell treatments, and treatment and surgery for tumors, in addition to patient assistance such as translation services and logistics.

The Parkway Ltd. is a group of impressive 13 hospitals in Singapore and other Asian countries known for providing health services of a high standard.

With these agreements, the Saudi Arabian government takes another step towards the trend in medical travel, with not only patients going abroad for medical and healthcare treatments, but with physicians going abroad for training and practice.

Indonesia’s healthcare system forces inhabitants abroad for treatment

October 12, 2010

The English speaking Indonesian newspaper Jakarta Globe, last week posted an editorial about the, inadequacy of Indonesia’s healthcare system, and its urgent need of reform. According to the paper, the public hospitals are both understaffed and under-equipped and have a hard time managing a proper maintenance. The lack of an insufficient number of private hospitals to meet the publics’ growing demand has resulted in thousands of Indonesians going abroad for healthcare and medical treatment. The most common countries to visit are the neighboring Malaysia and Singapore, which both supply world-class healthcare to its international patients. Of course, going abroad for treatment is a luxury that most Indonesians cannot afford.

According to the paper, the scarcity of mental health facilities is even worse that those for medical health. There is today only 35 psychiatric hospitals across all of Indonesia, while the estimated number of people with serious mental problems stands at an estimated minimum of 650,000! According to a 2007 survey conducted by the Indonesian Health Ministry, at least 2.1 million Indonesians suffer from mental illnesses.

The paper argues that the growing number of inhabitants will increase the problem for the Indonesian government in the future, and stresses the importance of an urgent breakthrough and transformation in the country’s healthcare industry. They turn towards the important role that the private sector has in raising the standards as well as the supply of healthcare services in the country. However, this cannot be done if the government does not provide favorable conditions. The editor summarizes: “By having greater private-sector involvement, Indonesians would be able to enjoy world-class quality in health and medical services. Getting there will require a shift in mindset within the government toward bold thinking and transformational ideas. It can and must be done.”

Until the Indonesian government realize the value and benefits of a prosperous thriving private healthcare industry, Indonesians will continue to flock for medical treatments abroad.

Foreign-Trained Doctors Provide Same Quality of Care as Doctors Educated in the US

October 11, 2010

A new study, released in the August issue of the journal Health Affairs, indicates that the quality of care provided by physicians educated abroad is as good as physicians educated in the US, which previously have been questioned for not having the same competence.

The study, performed in Pennsylvania by the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research, found no significant difference in the death rates of patients treated by international medical school graduates and those graduated at US medical schools. The researchers did however raise important questions regarding the approximately one-fith of US citizens who seek training abroad. The study found that the patients of US-born doctors who graduate from non-US medical schools had higher rates of in-hospital deaths than the patients of foreign-born international medical graduates. Approximately one forth of all the US doctors are educated abroad.

Mr. John Norcini

Mr. John Norcini

Mr. John J. Norcini, president and chief executive officer of the FAIMER (Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research), who is also the lead author of the study says, “Despite a rigorous U.S. certification process for international graduates, the quality of care provided by doctors educated abroad has been an ongoing concern. It is reassuring to know that patients of these doctors receive the same quality of care that they would from any physical trained in the United States.”

The study analyzed 244,153 hospitalizations of patients with congestive heart failure or acute heart attack in the state of Pennsylvania who were treated by either a US-trained or a foreign-trained doctor. In total, 6,113 doctors were part of the study. Among the three different groups researched (foreign nationals trained abroad, US nationals trained in the US, and US nationals trained abroad), patients of foreign-born international medical graduates had the lowest death rates, while those of US-citizen international graduates had the highest. To look at the quality of care, measured in the shortest lenghts-of-stay, Patients of US graduates had the shortest lengths-of-stay while the patients from US-citizen international graduates had the longest. Grasping the latter, one can of course argue against a short lenght-of-stay as a true measure of quality.

Nocini continues; “These findings bring attention to foreign-trained doctors and the valuable role they have played in responding to the nation’s physician shortage. U.S. medical schools are doing their part by expanding for the first time in thirty years, but the number of graduate training programs has not increased proportionately. If this continues, the current physician shortages will persist and the numbers of foreign-trained doctors will likely decrease significantly.”

Other interesting findings from the study shows that specialty board certification was associated with lower mortality and shorter stays in hospital, and that physician performance declined over time, with mortality rates and lengths-of-stays increasing with the number of years since graduation from medical school.

These findings confirm the strong belief of so many physicians outside the US today, that the quality of safety and care is just as good, if not better, with physicians trained outside the US.

Do you agree with the study? Comment below or on our Facebook page.

BBC reports on the booming medical tourism industry in India

October 8, 2010

BBC has lately visited India to report on the booming medial tourism industry. In the video, which I unfortunately can’t embed in this post, we follow a couple from Fiji unable to find the procedure they are looking for back home, and are therefore forced to go overseas. While regularly choosing Australia or New Zealand for overseas treatment, they now decided to make the journey all the way to India. In spite of the longer plane ride, the cost for treatment was half of what they would pay in the neighbouring countries.

Today, India is home to a large number of super specialty hospitals, where overseas patients are helped with everything from translation services to VISA forms. These mega complexes (such as Medanta Medicity, which has over 1,500 beds and 1,000 doctors) are all focusing on keeping their costs down, while maintaining the same quality of healthcare.

The Indian government has estimated that the medical tourism industry could generate over 3 billion dollars per year. While the industry today is restricted to a few urban hospitals, the Indian government is keen on reproducing the successful mode to smaller hospitals around the country. The Indian minister of state for health, mr Dinesh Trivedi, states the importance of local hospitals entering the medical travel scene, with implementing the same idea; cut costs and preserve the same quality.

View the interesting video here!

Regular Visits to Dentist Prevent Heart Disease in Women

October 6, 2010

Believe it or not, but the risk of heart disease can be greatly reduced in women who take good care of their dental health and regularly visit the dentist. However, this is not the same for men. This is proven by new research led by UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, and presented in the September end issue of the journal Health Economics.

The analytics compared people who regularly visited a dentist during the previous two years with those who did not. In total, nearly 7,000 people ages 44-88 enrolled in the Health and Retirement Study, with data collected every two years from 1996 to 2004. The study followed the same individuals over time, and each biennial survey included questions on whether subjects had visited the dentist and whether they had experienced a heart attack, stroke, angina or any congestive heart failure during the previous two years.

As mentioned above, the research proved that the benefits of visiting a dentist did not include men. This did not completely surprise the researchers. Dr. Timothy Brown, assistant adjunct professor of health policy and management at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health says “Many studies have found associations between dental care and cardiovascular disease, but our study is the first to show that general dental care leads to fewer heart attacks, strokes, and other adverse cardiovascular outcomes in a casual way.” Co-author Stephen Brown adds “We think the findings reflect differences in how men and women develop cardiovascular disease. Other studies suggest that estrogen has a protective effect agains heart disease because it helps prevent the development of atherosclerosis. It’s not until women hit menopause around age 50 to 55 that they start catching up with men.”

So, this new research obviously shows that there are multiple benefits with going to the dentist regularly. Think about that the next time you might be dreading the dentist drill!

Medical Tourism goes under the microscope

October 6, 2010

Medical tourism is yet a fairy new subject to be researched by the academic world. Many countries promoting medical, health and wellness travel currently don’t even have the right tools to calculate the number or health tourists visiting their country on a yearly basis. With the industry getting more established, this is about to change.

Global healthcare is now going under the microscope, as a York academic sets out to discover the value for money truth behind medical tourism and its impact on the British NHS. Dr. Neil Lunt from the York University Management School will lead a team of researchers that includes social scientists, health economics and clinicians.

According to Dr. Lunt, the perceived upside of patients going abroad for cheaper elective procedures, such as dental services, plastic surgery, fertility treatment and orthopaedics, is that it cuts waiting lists in the UK while boosting the economies of poorer countries. The downside is of course what happens if something goes wrong after the patient returns home and the NHS might be left to sort out any following complications.

Currently, medical tourism is manly privately funded, and the researchers will seek to establish the amount private persons are paying for it. The study will also be looking to see if people are making informed choices or being sucked into decisions by internet gossip. The latter is exactly what Novasans is trying to prevent, by acting as a complete source for information about medical tourism!

Many players in the market welcome more research about medical tourism, and Novasans will keep you updated on the findings by Dr. Neil Lunt and his team!


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