BridgeHealth redefines medical travel

While medical travel may conjure images of exotic locations like New Zealand, France or Sweden, BridgeHealth Medical wants prospective clients to look closer to home.

The Denver-based medical travel provider recently unveiled its “World-Class Provider Network,” a group of hospitals and healthcare providers in the United States that, company officials say, can match any provider in the world on price and quality. The goal, said CEO Victor Lazzaro, Jr., is to offer the same medical travel services to American consumers in America, keeping healthcare dollars in the country.

“BridgeHealth is an established industry leader in medical travel, and now brings to market a nationwide network that delivers high quality care and treatments to Americans traveling within the country as well as for international patients seeking care in the U.S.,” Lazzaro said in a press release announcing the new network. “We have built a quality domestic network that offers greater transparency and greater consumer choice while providing significant savings for healthcare stakeholders. This network mirrors our rigorous international standards, with Joint Commission accredited hospitals here in the United States and JCI-accredited institutions throughout the world.”

With most medical travel consumers choosing to go abroad for their treatment because of cost, Lazzaro said BridgeHealth can offer the same value of healthcare in the United States, particularly for businesses and insurers looking to contain aggressive costs.  The company’s services include education – Lazzaro estimates 30 percent of all surgeries are unnecessary to begin with – concierge and travel.

Lazzaro said BridgeHealth identifies hospitals by procedures – orthopedic, bariatric, cardiology, radiation therapy, general surgery and neurological, to name a few – and negotiates contracts and services with that hospital. This helps prospective customers and payers ensure the quality of the medical treatment, reducing the chances of ineffective or wasteful care.

“These centers of excellence give employers, health plans, and consumers another option for accessing quality care,” said Lazzaro. “BridgeHealth’s domestic network delivers the same cost savings stakeholders have come to value in international medical travel, with the added benefit of being able to remain within the United States.”

The argument isn’t lost on John C. Goodman, president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis. In a recent interview with Medical Travel Today, Goodman said medical travel will compel American healthcare providers to become more competitive as they lose business to better-priced options.

“What we’re going to see is insurers and employers encouraging patients to travel (both within the country and out of the country) for lower-priced, higher-quality care,” he said. “The resulting savings are going to be shared by the insurers and employers with the patients. That type of model is going to force U.S. facilities to compete in a different way if they are going to stay in business.”