Officials say medical tourism impact to be seen in late 2015
Health City Cayman Islands officials say they expect to see up to 100 medical tourists visiting the facility every month by the end of 2015.
The hospital has relied largely on local patients and referrals from charitable organizations in its first year of operation, with a total of 2,200 patients treated at the facility.
Officials say they have been building a reputation and are going through a lengthy accreditation process which, once completed, will help open the floodgates for more patients from overseas, including the key U.S. market.
The hospital has been through the first phase of the audit process to gain accreditation from Joint Commission International, which management believe will bring additional credibility with prospective patients around the world.
Shomari Scott, director of marketing, said the business plan for the first 18 months was to sustain operations by “filling existing gaps within the local population.”
He said, “This time allows us to show our impeccable outcomes and build our brand as we are a startup in the minds of some potential patients …
“It also allows us to garner our JCI [Joint Commission International] accreditation which is needed to drive patient volumes from such places as the USA.”
He said patients are already starting to visit the hospital, which focuses on heart surgeries and orthopedic procedures such as knee replacements, from elsewhere in the Caribbean, as well as some from the U.S.
The hospital, a joint project between Dr. Devi Shetty’s Narayana Health and Ascension Health in the U.S., has performed more than 200 surgeries and procedures since it opened to patients on April 2 last year.
Mr. Scott said there would be a major public relations push in the U.S. in the second half of 2015.
“Patient flows will increase drastically towards the end of the year, when we expect anywhere between 50 and 100 overseas patients a month.”
The U.S. market is considered important to the success of the wider project, which will ultimately include a 2,000 bed facility, medical university, hotels and retirement homes.
Design work is under way on a 185-room hotel planned for the site, with an anticipated opening date of November 2016.
Work on a second hotel is expected to start in 2018 as the hospital expands.
Residential and commercial development as well as a planned retirement community will begin later this year, Mr. Scott believes.
He said patient satisfaction in the first year was very high, citing numerous testimonials from patients who were happy with the treatment they received.
Asked about concerns about after-care for patients when complications, such as infections, occur following surgery, he said, “We are in the process of hiring and bringing in all comprehensive specialties that will complement our cardiac services in the very near future, to deal with the very small percentage of times that we have complications.”
Dr. Chandy Abraham, Health City’s facility director and head of medical services, said it has been a memorable first year in Cayman.
“From the outset we were able to celebrate many firsts in highly specialized surgical procedures and innovative healthcare solutions, both for the Cayman Islands and the Caribbean region,” he said.
He cited among those highlights life-saving heart surgeries for 16 young Haitians performed for free by Health City surgeons, and the successful installation of artificial heart pumps.
Premier Alden McLaughlin congratulated Health City on its first year, saying the facility has put Cayman on the map as a “leading destination” for medical tourism.