Rush hospital, group to study medical tourism

By Bruce Japsen
Posted Oct. 25, 2010 at 8:20 a.m.

Rush University Medical Center, working with a national group of academic medical centers, was awarded a $500,000 grant designed to “help boost medical travel to the U.S.”

The three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce will be used in part to better quantify the number of foreigners coming to the U.S. for medical care, which researchers and the government believes say has not been adequately tracked.

Medical care purchased by individuals from outside the U.S. that can be grown would fit President Barack Obama’s “National Export Initiative,” which hopes to double by 2015 the number of exports and spur U.S. job growth, Rush said.

Rush is working with the University HealthSystem Consortium, a group based in the western Chicago suburb of Oak Brook, that includes teaching hospitals from across the country.

In 2007, Rush researchers Andrew Garman and Tricia Johnson estimated that between 43,000 and 103,000 foreigners came to the U.S. for medical care. And though there are tens of thousands of U.S. residents who go outside this country for medical care, the researchers have estimated a trade surplus to the U.S. of nearly $1 billion.

With the grant, the researchers will “develop the methodology to value medical care exports and assess the impact of these strategies on exports over the next three years.”


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