Maite del Toro’s SWOT analysis on medical travel

In this post, we researched the best features of the Dominican Republic's Medical Travel Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, better known as SWOT analysis, written by Dr. Maite Del Toro.

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Maite del Toro, Executive Director of the Dominican Health Tourism Association. Medical travel, medical tourism, dohealthwell.
Source: adtusalud.
Maite del Toro’s SWOT analysis on medical travel
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Dr. Maite del Toro developed the first SWOT analysis on Medical Travel in the Dominican Republic, in which she reveals the importance of public-private partnerships and a regulatory framework to achieve quality and safety.

Del Toro, a lawyer, specialized in Health Law and Executive Director of the Dominican Health Tourism Association, sustained in an article posted on the entity’s website the need for health centers to achieve certifications and international accreditation.

“We must fight the intrusion and the centers and non-certified doctors who offer clandestine medical services,” pointed out Del Toro on September 2017.

In this post, we researched the best features of the Dominican Republic’s Medical Travel Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, better known as SWOT analysis, written the specialist mentioned above.

Strengths

  • A favorable geographical location, close to potential markets. (United States, Canada, and the Caribbean islands).

Big cities time estimates

  • New York: 3h 35m
  • Chicago: 4h 20m
  • London: 9h 15m
  • Toronto 4h 25m
  • Miami: 2h 15m
  • Berlin: 10h 20m
  • Atlanta: 3h 20m
  • Los Angeles: 6h 50m
  • Panama: 2h 25m
  • Argentina: 7h 50m
  • Boston: 4h

One of the most important facts are the time estimates for the big cities in the United States and Canada, where most of the medical travelers come.

  • Competitive costs of services and supplies.

As an example, let’s take patient traveling from New York to Santo Domingo for an elective facelift procedure. If we break it down it the approximate costs are:

  1. Surgery: $4,000 USD
  2. Flight: $800 USD (patient and companion)
  3. Lodging: $700 USD ($100 x 7 nights)
  4. Transportation: Most likely included in the package
  5. Meals: USD 350 ($50 per day. Though it is usually included)
  6. Sightseeing: $200 USD
  7. Shopping and souvenirs: USD 100 (optional)

Approximate total: $6,150 USD*

The same procedure might cost $15,000-$20,000 in NY. *Contact your service provider for a precise estimate. Source: Dominican Republic Health and Wellness Guide.

  • Immediate attention, with reduced waiting lists.

In Canada, for someone to get surgery or medical treatment in the public sector, they must wait an average of 18.2 weeks, according to Pablo Castillo, CEO of Medbrick, a company specialized in travel assistance, medical costs and Medical Tourism in Latin America.

By 2015, more than 52 thousand Canadians sought treatment abroad. Canadians represent the second group of tourists for the Dominican Republic.

They represent more visitors than all of Central and South American countries combined, with over 706 thousand (Central Bank of the Dominican Republic, 2014).

  • Ease of access and multiple air connections.

The Dominican Republic has eight international airports that cover major Medical Travel regions like Punta Cana (PUJ), Puerto Plata (POP), La Romana (LRM) and Santiago (STI).

There are also six domestic airports and 16 maritime ports, which represents the most significant number of air and sea connections in the area.

Las America International Airport. Dominican Republic
More than 50% of all visitors come from the United States. Source: Aerodom

The closest to Santo Domingo, the capital, is Las Americas International Airport. In any search field of your desired airline, it’s easy to find it as SDQ.

  • Certified Specialists

We have internationally certified doctors and surgeons that convey decades of experience and specialties in distinguished medical and research centers in the United States and Europe.

  • Dominican Republic Health and Wellness Destination Guide.

  • Tourist experience

According to the Dominican Institute of Civil Aviation, as of June 2018, the country registered a movement of exactly 7,584,070 passengers through its eight international airports.

In comparison to June 2017, there has been an increase of 334,867 passengers.

That is just the latest report on air travel flow, but it is an indicator of how solid the tourism infrastructure has become.

Statistics from the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic, the country received 5.5 million tourists in 2017, spread through mostly in major destinations like Punta Cana, Bavaro, Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo, and Samana.

  • A culture of service

According to a report by the Department of National Accounts and Economic Statistics, appointed to the Central Bank, in 2015 services accounted for 62.2% of the Gross Domestic Product.

Tourism – framed in Hotels, Bars, and Restaurants – top at 7.6%, ranking 4th.

The industry contributes a massive 25% of the foreign currencies that our country obtains. It also exceeds 14% of the total workforce, with over 620 thousand jobs.

The latest report shows that in 2017, the Dominican Republic welcomed 6.1 million tourists.

  • Health Centers with experience in the management of international patients

  1. Plaza de la Salud
  2. Cedimat
  3. Punta Cana Medical Center
  4. Espaillat Cabral
  5. Bournigal Medical Center
  6. HOMS
  7. Central Romana Medical Center

Opportunities

  • Growing demand for potential markets, especially from the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean islands, and the Dominicans living abroad.

In the United States, there are 1.8 million Dominican residents.

Around 47% live in New York, just 3 hours and 35 minutes from Santo Domingo. Eight out of ten live in the Northeastern states.

Dominicans living in the United States keep a close economic and emotional relationship with the island, a critical aspect when making a health or wellness decision.

  • Self-funded employers that motivate medical tourism.

According to the Medical Tourism Association, some self-funded employers in the United States have embraced international treatment as a way to lower their healthcare costs.

In the U.S., 82% of employers with 500 or more employees are self-funded, says the Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Strengthening the country brand, competitiveness, real estate tourism and tourism for retirees.

Recently, the National Competitiveness Council awarded the Dominican Republic’s broad Medical Tourism study to the consulting firm Russa Garcia and Associates SRL.

The decision follows up the inter-institutional cooperation agreement with the Dominican Health Tourism Association led by its president Dr. Alejandro Cambiaso.

A comparative analysis of different destinations and in-depth interviews will be carried out both at the governmental and private sector levels.

Additionally, the following will be addressed:

  1. Differences of Medical and Health Tourism
  2. Market niche value
  3. Creation of wealth and jobs
  4. New investments, technology transfer, and knowledge.

The results will be presented at the 4th International Health and Wellness Tourism Congress on September 5-7th. Check the agenda.


Weaknesses

  • Health tourism in the process of development.

It is true that the industry is in development. However, we must point out the efforts done by the Dominican Health Tourism Association.

One of those actions that contribute to strengthening Medical Travel in the Dominican Republic is the international congress.

Last June, Dr. Alejandro Cambiaso announced that this edition would involve more than 40 expert speakers, who will analyze the global perspective of Medical Travel, the challenges and opportunities of its human capital and the Dominican health services offer.

The congress welcomes high-level representatives of the financial, health, tourism, transportation, education and investment sectors,” states their portal. The agenda includes industry-related activities, business meetings, and expert presentations.

  • The absence of a quality seal for qualified suppliers.

“The Dominican Health Tourism Association encourages all health specialists to become members of their respective professional societies, for centers to get approved by the Ministry of Health, and that they seek certifications and international accreditations,” said Dr. Alejandro Cambiaso, on a recent press release.

In that sense, Accreditation Canada is one of the international sponsors at the 4th International Health and Wellness Tourism Congress in Santo Domingo.

  • Low level of bilingualism

The Dominican Republic has 22 bilingual educational centers recognized by the Ministry of Education, which are mainly located in Santo Domingo, Santiago, Puerto Plata and La Romana,

A bit over 4,000 students receive classes in these type of center. The enrollment in these schools is often expensive, hence the low level of bilingualism.

  • Lack of statistics

Between 25,000 and 30,000 international patients are treated every year in health centers in the Dominican Republic, according to estimates of the Dominican Health Tourism Association.

In spite of the stats provided by ADTS, Del Toro refers to the lack of official data from governmental institutions.

  • The absence of a regulatory framework.

“The Dominican government should in no time adopt a general Law on Medical Tourism to provide broader guarantees to medical travelers and protect the country’s brand,” mentioned Yasir Mateo, Manager, and Writer at DoHealthWell®.

Read the article: Medical Tourism Regulations in the Dominican Republic: An Urgent Need

  • Limited control of tropical febrile diseases and infections.

You can get typhoid through contaminated food or water in the Dominican Republic.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends this vaccine for most travelers, especially if you are staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater.


Threats

Competitors with more experience in the same geographical area (Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, among others).

Below paragraph source: Costa Rica Star

According to statistics by the Costa Rica Tourism Board, the number of foreigners that visited the country with the purpose of seeking high quality and affordable medical care went from 9,774 in 2015 to 13,131 in 2016 which represents an increase of 34%, a very significant achievement for the medical tourism sector and for the country as it positions itself as a reputable medical tourism destination.

The majority of the tourists that visit the country for this purpose come from North America and mainly looking for dental treatments (40% according to Promed) and plastic surgery, and report savings for anywhere from 30% to 80% Vs. North American prices.

  • Intrusion

“We must fight the intrusion and the centers and non-certified doctors who offer clandestine medical services,” defends del Toro.

  • Clandestine or unauthorized centers that offer services.

Report from local media.

The General Directorate of Habilitation and Accreditation and the National Laboratory, two instances of the Vice Ministry of Quality Assurance of the Ministry, inspects the areas of surgery of all establishments that are dedicated to plastic surgery, in order to ensure that the population receives services of health in establishments free of contamination or any element that puts people’s lives at risk.

“We are very demanding to grant the authorization, before doing so we analyze the structure, services, human resources and we will continue making provisional, temporary, partial or definitive closings to health establishments that are proven previous bacteriological culture, contamination of surgical areas and facilities of health that violate the General Health Law, in order to guarantee the quality of health services in the Dominican Republic,” said the Director of Public Health Enabling, Ramón Pérez.

  • Health houses that offer recovery services without regulation.

There is no data from the Ministry of Health of the Dominican Republic as to how many recovery houses operate in the country, and if out the total, how many are currently regulated by this governmental institution.

Full SWOT Analysis HERE (Spanish)

Maite del Toro 

Dr. Maite del Toro is a lawyer specialized in corporate law and business administration with more than 10 years of experience in handling legal issues and consultancy within the health sector, as well as negotiations with local and international health insurance, hospitals and accrediting entities.

She is a reference in medical law and expert in strategic planning and promotion of public-private partnerships for the development of health tourism projects.

The veteran lawyer is president of Del Toro Abogados and executive director of the Dominican Association of Health Tourism.

Del Toro sustains that the Dominican Health Tourism Association is committed to the development of the country as a safe health destination.

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