ON THE LEFT: AWC can bring US$450m to economy
American World Clinics’ model deploys the best in medical technology, facilities, and professionals with the majority of our physicians and surgeons being board certified United States-trained doctors. We believe this model allows us to fulfill our mission without depleting physician and local medical infrastructure resources from host nation residents.
Simultaneously, AWC is inclusive and endeavours to work with well-qualified host nation physicians and ancillary staff. Currently, AWC is engaged in development of medical facilities in Barbados, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. The old St Joseph’s Hospital site in Ashton Hall, St Peter is to be the site of the AWC medical campus on Barbados.
AWC has been working closely with Government leaders in Barbados to bring this US$200 million project to fruition. Once the business matures, it is anticipated that phase one of AWC-Barbados will directly add more than US$450 million annually to the Barbadian economy based on medical and tourism activities and will employ more than 200 individuals at its campus with a focus on Bajan hires in both professional and support positions.
AWC has spent several years cultivating the Barbados market, working closely with government, business and the medical community, to develop a project that will not only position Barbados in a leadership role in international medicine and medical tourism, but will also provide significant FDI, ongoing foreign exchange, skilled employment, jumpstart this new economic sector, and provide significant knowledge/technology transfer.
Given the current financial challenges facing Barbados, we are hopeful that the AWC project will help to reinvigorate the Barbados economy and provide motivation for other foreign investors to strongly consider Barbados. Our feeling since the beginning has been that regionally Barbados offers a number of distinct advantages for a clinical/life science investment of this type and magnitude.
AWC is part of a growing industry focused on delivering health care services to international travellers and the emerging markets. Often called medical tourists, these individuals leave their home countries specifically for medical care. People travel for care for different reasons, including long waits to obtain needed care in their home country, a perceived lack of quality, limited access to the latest and best treatments and technology, and finally for cost savings.
In an effort to control costs, universal care health systems ration care with resultant long wait times, reduced choice in treatment options and providers, and service mediocrity.
The world is seeking better health care. The US health care brand is strong and bringing this level of care in a consistent, replicable fashion to communities around the world is our corporate mission. The health care market, like any other market, has many segments. No single solution will serve all patients and clients equally well. We can’t be all things to all people and there are many successfully, functioning aspects to the health care systems in many countries, including Barbados.
Still, approximately 600 000 people travel to the US from other countries for medical treatment each year. They aren’t travelling to the most expensive health care system on the planet to save money.
They are travelling because of a perception of quality, timely access, and high regulatory standards for medical professionals and institutions.
As the medical tourism industry and international health care in general continue to grow and mature, quality will be the final arbiter in determining the most successful organisations.
Dr Paul Angelchik is chairman of American World Clinics.