Missed opportunity?

A couple of years ago I looked at the growing trend of medical tourism in Israel and other international locations (Americans travelling abroad for surgeries). I suggested here (and elsewhere) that New Brunswick should take a long hard look at this. Why not? We are in the backyard of the Boston-NYC corridor with direct flights into NYC. It is significantly cheaper to offer these services here and the health care industry in New Brunswick is, on average, among the highest paying.

I was basically either laughed off, scorned (how dare you) or ignored.

Ontario MDs to launch medical tourism firm
Ailing Americans will soon be able to buy surgery at bargain prices in Canadian hospitals through a new medical tourism company founded by two physicians. Markham-based anesthetist Shehbaz Butt says he can provide international patients quality choices through his company, Canadian Healthcare International Corp., at rates drastically lower than those in the United States.

As I have said before the genius of the call centre initiative was that NB was first in the game. An early adopter. Within five years of NB becoming the so-called call centre capital not only did you have every province in Canada with a ‘call centre team’ out trying to out-NB NB you had international locations such as India and the Philippines attracting this type of work (not directly influenced by NB I might add).

Why not medical tourism? At a theoretical level? Why would it pose any threat to Medicare to offer services to Americans? Sure, you would have to ramp up capacity but in my opinion that would give you more capacity and competencies to offer NB citizens.

But the most forceful response to my suggestion was outright ignoration. That’s a stupid idea. Who would come here? This is New Brunswick, after all.

The exact same response when we talked about attracting these multinational call centres/back offices in the early 1990s.

I am not saying that medical tourism is sure thing. I am saying that we should have done a serious feasibility study 2-3 years ago when it came on the radar.