Massimo Manzi, PROMED, and promoting medical tourism to Costa Rica

PROMED supports public and private institutions to rank Costa Rica as a destination for quality medicine and hospitality, contributing to the generation of an adequate country brand.

PROMED was created to ensure that international patients visiting Costa Rica receive high-quality medical and dental services from their members.

The entity is committed to raising awareness of Costa Rica as affordable health care and wellness destination, their official website states.

According to the organization’s website, one of their main objectives is to promote the development of good practices in the management of health services that are provided by their members to local patients and medical travelers.

Members also include affiliated services such as:

  • Recovery retreats
  • Hotels
  • Medical transportation
  • Tour operators
  • Medical travel facilitators
  • Insurance companies
  • Law firms
  • Healthcare consultants

PROMED includes healthcare and wellness providers such as:

  • Hospitals
  • Medical and dental clinics
  • Spas

Named the Council for the International Promotion of Costa Rica Medicine, PROMED supports public and private institutions in the consolidation and strengthening of the image of Costa Rica as a destination for health tourism and a center of quality medicine in national and international markets.

One of those efforts is the participation of Mr. Massimo Manzi, Executive Director of PROMED, at the 4th International Health and Wellness Tourism Congress in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on September 5-7th at the Renaissance Santo Domingo Jaragua Hotel & Casino.

He is set to join featured panelists at the Experiences and Strategies for Building a Health and Wellness Tourism Destination Brand panel:

  • Dr. Adolfo Moreno Director of the Medellín Health City Cluster, Colombia.
  • Ms. Martha Estrella, Director of Caribbean Health Travel Magazine (CHT);
  • Ms. Jacqueline Monegro, Director of Health Tourism, Ministry of Tourism;
  • Moderator: Mrs. Amelia Reyes Mora, President of AF Comunicación Estratégi, a and Vice-President, Dominican Health Tourism Association.

PROMED and its Role Promoting Medical Tourism to Costa Rica

Last May, I interviewed Mr. Massimo Manzi, Executive Director of the Council for the International Promotion of Medicine, PROMED.

He is a Political scientist, specialized in International Relations and Diplomacy. Born and raised in Italy, he lives in Costa Rica since 2004.

Mr. Manzi has worked in the Organizing Committee for the Summit of Heads of State and Government of 2004.

He was named Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica from 2005 to 2006, Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry 2006 to 2007 and Chief of Staff of the Minister of Competitiveness from 2007 to 2010.

Since 2006, he has participated in the development of a Medical Tourism Cluster and a Retirement Living Cluster in Costa Rica.

Since 2010, Manzi has been serving as the Executive Director of both PROMED and the Council for the Retirement Living Industry (PRORETIRE).

He is an international consultant to the Inter-American Development Bank IDB and has developed projects in countries like Belize.

Since 2010, Manzi has been serving as the Executive Director of PROMED and the Council for the Retirement Living Industry (PRORETIRE).

In a Skype conversation, he shared information that details the role of the organization in the promotion of Medical Tourism to Costa Rica.

This post only features the content that relates to PROMED as a subject matter. 

I started off by inquiring about the first/main goal of PROMED. The second question relates to the opening of new international markets through a comprehensive promotion of Medical Tourism to Costa Rica.

Jairo Mateo: What kind of support provides public and private institutions to consolidate the country brand?

Massimo Manzi: At PROMED we have, let’s say since 2006, of being in that support role. PROMED came up as a public-private initiative.

In the beginning, we thought that PROMED served better as an agency, almost governmental, assuming the role of promoting and develop a country brand in the health industry.

We decided to stay on the path of being a private agency. One of the reasons is the legal framework in Costa Rica and the political fluctuations when there is a change of administration.

Despite being a private nonprofit institution, we have maintained our leadership. At the end of the day, and beyond the public or private nature, what counts is the experience and the local and international alliances that are achieved.

Similar to what has been established in the Dominican Republic, we also involved the diplomatic representations of our country in these efforts, undoubtedly, key support.

On that matter, the question is: what are our embassies, consulates, and our commercial offices doing to support us? Let’s say that they have a general education course about what is economic diplomacy or business relations. Normally, in the commercial field, we have much more experience and knowledge about exporting goods.

Not knowing how to promote the country as a health destination does not do any good. We advice public institutions, at a private level.

Massimo Manzi, medical travel, medical tourism, dohealthwell.
Massimo Manzi supported the development of the Belize Medical Tourism Sector Strategy in 2013. Source:

The support relates to guidance on what the global health and medical tourism business represent or represents for the different organizations; help them to learn curves, especially for those who come new to this type of business.

We have clinics and hospitals that started in the late 70’s’, early 80’s, but there are others that are just beginning and there lies our guidance role.

Right now, Costa Rica exports certain products, from coffee, bananas, pineapples, and other products. Now, those same governmental offices understand how a hospital is promoted or how the health service is promoted. And let me tell you, this is not an immediate process. So, you have those public offices abroad. Our job is to you who to look for, how to research, and the protocols to use. Though we have several years of experience, we still can not say that we have achieved our full potential.

Jairo Mateo: According to its website, one of the objectives of PROMED is to ease the opening of new international markets through a comprehensive promotion of Medical Tourism in Costa Rica, is that what it is about?

Massimo Manzi: Yes. We need to understand the insights of the industry and that entails many actions and sometimes also roads that were not planned.

Right now, the downside is that there is no chain of marketing or promotion as there is in other industries, as in the case of Tourism. There are virtual agencies like Expedia and travel wholesalers. The most important Tourism fairs are ITB Berlin and FITUR in Spain.

We also work at a national level on corporate agreements with companies; In the business of health, at the international level all that does not exist, there is no fair that one can say “I will go, where everyone goes, where the buyers meet.” I think it has been the experience for many. We have all tried to develop our events because it seemed to us, at least to us, that what existed were more events in passing, which promised us a lot and gave us very few results. That is the challenge we have.

When we talk about promotion, in the end, it is about looking for many niches because this industry still needs to identify the right path. We continue betting on the role of insurers to see their role not only in a patient’s care, which we handle, but also their work with medical travelers, and which can offer a solution to your problem in our country. We talk about the companies; we talk about the travel agencies.

PROMED Quality Seal

The private entity’s leadership have established the PROMED Quality Seal, which provides national and international consumers with health services the opportunity to identify those institutions that comply with national and international standards of quality and patient safety.

Six Goals of PROMED

  • Support public and private institutions to rank Costa Rica as a destination for quality medicine and hospitality, contributing to the generation of an adequate country brand.
  • Collaborate with state institutions in the regulation of health care services and related sectors.
  • To develop, in collaboration with the competent public and private institutions, a strategy to attract Foreign Direct Investment in the different links of the value chain of the medical cluster.
  • Provide technical advice to its members on issues such as operational, financial, legal, environmental, regulatory, tax, export services, alternative dispute resolution, as well as any other necessary for the optimal development of the activity of its members.
  • Promote synergies and collaborations that allow reaching the goals set by the association.
  • Generate international and / or national alliances with leading health institutions to complement or solve medical and health problems in the country and / or the region.

Related: 4th International Health and Wellness Tourism Congress Agenda (+top speakers)