On May 7, 2019, I had the honor of attending at the Intercontinental Hotel of the city of Santo Domingo, to the presentation of the first Study and Diagnosis of Health and Wellness Tourism of the Dominican Republic. A study that marks a before and after because it points out the business opportunities that arise from combining both sectors.
Months before, when the information for the production of the study was still being raised, I was interviewed by the consultant in charge of the project, the kind and brilliant Lourdes Russa, a lady of slow speech and attentive look, who kindly requested our opinion on the challenges and needs of the sector.
The question she asked me was timely and forceful: What does it take for the Health Tourism sector to grow more (from our point of view)?
Our response could have surprised those who believe that the growth of the sector is in more infrastructure, more hospitals, more bilingualism, more accessibility. While all of those factors are certainly important -as the research reflects-, my response was another, and it was short: “We need every doctor to have medical liability insurance (SRCM)”.
My reasons will be explained below, and are the following;
The image as a safe destination must be protected at all costs. According to the same study indicated, we are the number 15th destination of Health Tourism in a ranking of 41 countries carried out by the International Healthcare Research Center and the 2016 Medical Tourism Index, over countries such as Mexico. Likewise, the Tourism and Travel Competitiveness Index 2017, for the countries of the Americas, evaluated us positively in the Subindex of the Enabling Environment, Protection, and Security variable, where we climbed 13 positions with respect to the previous year.
Consequently, one of the assets that most affects our success as a tourist destination – and health tourism – is the good image we have as a destination. And my opinion is that it is this good reputation that will allow us to continue growing.
However, reputational risk as a safe destination is seen daily at risk when international – and local – patients file lawsuits for medical malpractice against Dominican doctors.
Therefore, if an international patient obtains an undesirable result in a medical procedure, it is critical to prevent that nonconformity from becoming damage to the country brand as a consequence of a demand that makes the safety of the destination doubt.
The reasons why a Civil Liability Insurance has a positive impact on mitigating the risk of lawsuits are:
1- In our experience as trial attorneys, most of the claims for doctors with a risk of conviction can be transacted for values lower than the policy average for SRCM, which is 5 million Dominican pesos (around 100 thousand dollars)
2- The intermediation of a professional who acts as a mediator between the claimant and the doctor has higher levels of success in avoiding the prosecution of the case that if the doctors do not have an insurer or expert lawyers in the matter and,
3- The properly insured doctor has more tools to mitigate the risk of lawsuits than the one that does not, such as the identification of risk behaviors to avoid in order to maintain coverage.
In addition to risk mitigation, the generalization – or obligation – of the SRC provides competitive advantages. It generates productive chaining and opens opportunities to opt for more demanding clients that require this type of guarantees to proceed to receive services in our country. One example is the international agencies for patient recruitment and destination sales, which take into account factors such as that the local provider has an adequate and sufficient SRCM in case the patient suffers some eventuality.
After giving this response, and after a few months I received with great pleasure a copy of the Study already completed, and to my surprise, our vision about the future of the market resonated in the concert of opinions.
The Study concludes that our hypothesis is true. It is mandatory to have good Medical Liability insurance to compete in the health market.
Lawyer Founder of Medical Law