to the Florida Chamber of Commerce, anywhere from 300,000 to 400,000 visitors to the Sunshine State are admitted to Florida hospitals each year, accounting
for 5% of Florida’s hospital patients.
receive an estimated $6 billion in services, but Chamber Executive Vice
President Tony Carvajal says that with more cohesive marketing the state can bring in even more dollars
from these out-of-state patients. “What
we have that few others do is that we are a fantastic destination, and we have
a robust hospitality business, and we already know how to work with people,” he
remarks come as the Florida Chamber is preparing to release the final portion
of a $235,000 study it conducted for Visit Florida over the course of the past
report, titled “A Strategic Look at Florida’s Medical Tourism Opportunities,”
won’t be released until at least Friday, but already the Florida Chamber has
held town hall meetings in Jacksonville and Naples to discuss the findings.
Meetings are scheduled for Miami and Orlando later this month.
study is part of a $5 million effort, funded in 2014 by the Florida
Legislature, to enhance the medical tourism market in the state.
said that in 50 hours of one-on-one interviews as well as through focus groups
and other research, the study revealed that the significant majority of
visiting patients come to Florida with plans to have medical work done. He
added that a bit less than a third of the patients come from international
destinations, notably Canada, Brazil and a variety of Latin American and
billion figure, he emphasized, doesn’t even account for medical work done
outside of hospitals.
we’re talking about medical tourism, it’s a significantly under-reported
asset,” he said.
report, said Carvajal, will recommend that Florida build a broader statewide
brand promoting itself as a health and wellness hub. After all, he said, the
Sunshine State has famed medical facilities such as the Moffitt Cancer Center
in Tampa, the University of Miami’s Sylvester Cancer Center and branches of the
Mayo and Cleveland clinics, to name just a few.
physicians, such as Jacksonville eye surgeon Arun Gulani, are located here, as
while opportunities for top-rate medical care abound in Florida, what makes the
state stand out from other regions of the U.S. is what the area offers during
you’re in Rochester right now you can’t walk out of the hospital and do rehab
because it’s too cold,” Carvajal said, referencing the Minnesota home of the Mayo
Clinic, which is also making a play for medical tourists. “But you can do that
course, medical tourism is about more than just the medical procedure.
and their families need a place to stay. They also need transportation, meals,
recreational opportunities and houses of worship.
vendors, such as Floridamedicaltourism.com, which was founded
by a cardiologist in the Tampa area, make that connection. In fact, the company
counts as one of its partners Visit Tampa Bay. On the site, which is geared in
particular toward Middle Eastern tourists, the company advertises its
full-service nature and says it will arrange everything from trip insurance to
tours to an interpreter.
Florida Chamber study will suggest that towns and cities focus on what Carvajal
called “coordinated community concierge services.”
far, Visit Florida has put most of its medical tourism funding toward promotion.
Last year, the semipublic tourism sponsor awarded $3.1 million in grants to
health care providers, medical facilities and local tourism agencies for the
promotion of medical meetings and general medical tourism.
said the chamber report states that marketing and research are properly Visit
Florida’s biggest roles.
coordination, he said, needs to happen organically at the local level and
within local marketplaces.
not just about the health care. It’s about the health care and the experience,”