In May 2010, the medical travel industry came together at the European Medical Travel Conference to mark a significant achievement, the passing of the Venice Declaration on Medical Tourism. I had the privilege of helping to write this declaration.
Doctors, hospital directors, and medical travel professionals signed this landmark document and it was later presented to the parliament of the European Union.
The Venice Declaration is a message to not only the European community but to all the world that medical travel and health tourism in all their many aspects now form a significant economic and social force to which all governments globally must pay attention.
The Venice Declaration proclaims that a citizen of one country has the right to travel across national borders to another country to receive medical care.
This has broad and significant implications for the future of health care systems and programs in all the countries of Europe. And not just Europe. As the Europeans find solutions to the problems of cross-border insurance payments, cross border transfer of medical credentials, keeping medical records confidential and safe while transferring them electronically around the world and the effects of cross-border health care on legal and cultural differences among countries in such areas as the right to die, restrictions on embryo implantation, right of women over decisions about their bodies.
How the Europeans work through these issues and the sort of solutions they will implement will set new standards in medical tourism and affect medical tourism policies throughout the world.
This post was originally published on July 8, 2010.