Patients without Borders

medical tourismAs medical tourism for elective procedures gains momentum, could going global provide a cure for ailing American health institutions? A corporate strategy article by Thunderbird students.

Like many vibrant, athletic men, retired U.S. Air Force General Steve Dotson has a bum knee. Seventy years old, and an avid skier, Steve is simply not ready to sit in the lodge. Nor does he like the sound of a knee replacement’s long and painful recovery period, even though his insurance policy would cover the cost. Lucky for him there is a third option: travel to the Cayman Islands for a quasi-experimental (and non-FDA approved) stem cell procedure. A sophisticated marketing effort from a Colorado-based group of doctors operating an offshore clinic has convinced Steve that a simple procedure might negate the need for a surgical knee replacement, while accomplishing the same objective of keeping him active. All said, the procedure will cost Steve around $20,000 cash—a cost he believes is worth it if the results are positive. Steve is far from unique.

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