Dr. Arlen Meyers is a professor of otolaryngology at University of Colorado Medical School, the founder of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, and the founder of MedVoy, a healthcare referral portal. Dr. Meyers took time out of his whirlwind schedule to discuss the role of physicians and technology in international medical travel markets.
Dr. Meyers, a recognized leader in medical entrepreneurship, was an early innovator in international medical travel. He pioneered the simple, straightforward idea that doctors should be at the heart of patients’ experiences during international medical travel. In this interview, Dr. Meyers describes how the growth of non-physician directed medical information portals, such as Web M.D. and hundreds of medical tourism facilitator sites have increased consumer appetite for medical information.
Dr. Meyers’ idea that physicians should be involved in a patient’s medical decision refers mostly to the “what” of medical care, even if it is not the same doctor actually providing the medical service. He has done more than just write and speak about this subject, Dr. Meyers created what may be the first physician led, international medical travel service organization: Medvoy. Medvoy is a simple, secure healthcare referral software that guides healthcare consumers through a multitude of healthcare services around the world.
“Digical” is a term coined by Dr. Meyers; it’s a combination of physical and digital platforms. Using the analogy of Barnes & Noble, Dr. Meyers says, “Years ago if you wanted a book, you went to the store, bought the book and if you wanted to return it, you had to return to the store. And while online transactions receive lots of attention in the popular business press, in reality, only 6 – 10% retail sales are done on line.”
His message is that in healthcare there will be a “digical platform”. It’s an experiment and no one has pinpointed the model. Dr. Meyers believes that healthcare professionals are apprehensive to convert to digital communication with patients. Only 8 -12 % doctors communicate with patients via email, while 80 to 90% of patients would prefer this form of communication with doctors. This is clearly a disconnect which needs to be resolved.
Dr. Meyers also shares his thought-provoking ideas about the role of technology in the deployment of medical care and international health travel. He is an advocate for testing new medical technologies locally, then expanding nationally, and then internationally.