The Role of the Physician Leader in Medical Travel and Tourism

By Andy Smith | AAPL
April 28, 2018

Too often, we hear about what has gone wrong than what’s gone right with medical travel and tourism, says Mary Miller Sallah,  director of operations for Global Healthcare Accreditation. 

 There are many reasons why patients travel domestically or internationally for medical care, and physician leaders play a vital role in successful outcomes, according to Mary Miller Sallah, MHA, director of operations for Global Healthcare Accreditation.

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Mary Miller Sallah, addressing Symposium attendees, says that if clinicians are not compassionate, there will not be success with the medical travel process. | Evan Parker/AAPL

Those reasons may include cost savings, the availability of specialty procedures, privacy, experimental treatments or, for example, Canadian patients who can get a procedure done sooner by traveling to the United States than having to wait in line for care in Canada.

Too often, she said, we hear about what has gone wrong than what’s gone right with medical travel and tourism. That’s where Global Healthcare Accreditation comes in.

GHA was launched two years ago to establish best practices and provide standards in the industry – moving “from the wild west to a stage of maturity,” as Sallah describes it. The idea, she said, is to provide more informed understanding of what medical travel is, and to work continuum of care without unnecessary risk.

She said the role of physician leaders in medical travel includes:

  • Work collaboratively to ensure a safe continuum of care.
  • Key driver in creating positive patient experience.
  • Support and build reputation of adequate and necessary communication with patients.
  • Prioritize compassion while being a champion of good clinical outcomes.

“If clinicians are not compassionate, there will not be success with the medical travel process,” Sallah said Saturday during her presentation at the Thought Leadership Symposium, part of the AAPL 2018 Physician Leadership Summit in Boston.

If you are unfamiliar with the expectations of your organization regarding medical travel and tourism, she suggested educating yourself, starting with asking questions of your organization.



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