Literature on medical tourism often includes patients searching outside of the United States for less expensive healthcare. Dr. Tricia Johnson, Associate Chair of the Graduate Program in Health Systems Management at Rush University, focuses on just the opposite. Dr. Johnson’s work concentrates on medical travel into the United States. She was recently named one of the researchers awarded a grant by the United States Department of Commerce to study medical tourism into the U.S.
In this interview, Dr. Johnson discusses the development of United States Cooperative for International Patient Programs (USCIPP), a network of academic medical centers in the U.S. formed to share best practices, identify and resolve challenges associated with international patients in U.S. hospitals.
Patients come from all over the world to seek care in US hospitals, especially tertiary and quaternary care at the leading academic medical centers. Dr. Johnson identifies the reasons for this phenomenon, one being the brand of the United States across the world. She believes United States healthcare is viewed as very high quality across the globe, with professional teams, clinical leadership and quality outcomes based on measurements.
Dr. Johnson also discussed the emerging trend within the US of patients traveling from one location to another to receive care, based on guidance from their employer based health insurance plans. This recent development known as, “domestic medical travel” is based on the search for value. Certain medical centers that are known for success in particular procedures or treatments can demonstrate greater value, and will attract health insurance plans and consumers.