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Valley Startup Facilitates Process Of Getting Medical Treatments Abroad
In 2006, less than 200,000 Americans sought medical treatment abroad. This year, more than 1 million Americans will seek some kind of medical treatment abroad. The medical-tourism industry is booming. And one tech startup with local roots is trying to become the main platform for it.
MedRepublic was created by a father-and-son team from the Valley. CEO Robert Page explains that they built it on the experience his dad and brother had as physicians in Arizona; they both worked with doctors on both sides of the border. The trio originally wrote a medical guidebook to Mexican doctors, and over the years, more and more patients asked them to facilitate the process of going to Mexico.
The creation of MedRepublic enables them to give many patients what Page calls a “transparent platform” to bridge the gap between American patients looking to go abroad for a procedure and international specialists around the world.
Page explains that “a patient would go to our website, they would do a search for a procedure they’re looking for, and it will instantly populate a list of English-speaking doctors that we’ve been working with for many years. It will give our pricing, comparable pricing in the United States. “
Potential patients can also see where doctors trained and write reviews. And, according to Page, his team reviews every doctor in their system.
Much of the medical-tourism industry involves what’s known as elective procedures, such as dental surgery, weight-loss surgery and cosmetic tucks. But going abroad can also be a way for patients to be the recipients of procedures that have yet to receive official approval in the U.S. but have been vetted and are available in other countries.
Page also points out that sometimes patients will choose to do surgical procedures abroad that their American insurance will cover, because paying cash out of pocket can still be cheaper than their insurance copay.
There are dangers in doing any medical procedures, but doing one abroad can mean increased risk. Page says they often encourage and sometimes require patients to get a “complications insurance package.” But he points out, that in the 16 years that they’ve been helping patients go abroad, they’ve never had an issue that a patient sought to resolve through legal recourse.
Josef Woodman is CEO of Patients without Borders, a group that’s published a guidebook to medical tourism for the last 10 years. He has seen many organizations try to facilitate medical tourism and not make it because of the difficulties involved.
But considering the number of patients going abroad compared with ten years ago, the increase in internationally accredited hospitals across the Americas, and the interest from Silicon Valley in investing in health care, he says we’ve reached a “tipping point.” He says, “So the time is right. I can’t say whether it is a MedRepublic that will succeed but maybe we’ll see.”
MedRepublic was a featured startup at a recent high-profile event in San Francisco.