SW Florida Healthcare Industry Boosts U.S. Medical Tourism


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, October 16th, 2015 – Wise indeed are those folks who have moved to the two-county Manatee-Sarasota region mainly due to the area’s superior healthcare facilities and services. The A grade in patient safety recently awarded to the Doctors Hospital of Sarasota, is not only a blessing particularly to its nearby communities like Center Gates and Grove Pointe.

This plaudit also represents one of the recent shining examples of the superiority of the healthcare industry in the region. In recent years, this excellence of Florida’s healthcare institutions have significantly contributed in installing the United States as one of the world’s top 10 destinations for medical tourism.

More reliable specialists

SW Florida Healthcare Industry Boosts U.S. Medical Tourism

Dr. Debra Sandberg, CEO of the Florida Medical Retreat in Sarasota, noted that the resurgence of U.S. health tourism partly arose from the sad experience of those patients who received lower-cost but inferior surgical treatment outside the country. Underscoring the superiority of American health services and facilities, Dr. Sandberg recalled cases wherein the retreat’s surgeons have had to undertake repairs on patients who’ve been operated on in other countries.

The retreat has at its disposal 10 specialists offering medical services at the Doctors Hospital of Sarasota and Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH). Their specializations include not only cataract surgery, urological treatments and neurological procedures, but also cover vascular surgery, orthopedic corrections, and cosmetic procedures. After surgery, the patients can recuperate at the Sarasota Bay Club’s rehabilitation center through arrangements with the retreat.

Healthcare demand expanding

Patients Beyond Borders, the online medical travel service which rated U.S. health tourism as among the world leaders, found out that cost of medical care in the United States is competitive with other destinations abroad. Through careful comparative shopping within the U.S. borders, high quality health care services can be found, it noted. Given such an ideal choice, between 600,000 and 800,000 foreign patients in 2013 opted for treatment in popular U.S. health care destinations like Florida, Arizona and Minnesota, the online facility estimated.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital is one local healthcare institution certainly aware of this dynamic trend in medical tourism coming at a time when local demand for healthcare services is expected to rise with the recent spate of new property developments in the region. To meet this foreseen growth, SMH secured early in October 2015 preliminary government approval for the purchase of a 1.8-acre property in East County.  

Boon for new golf and seniors’ communities

Plans are still tentative for this site, but an SMH official indicated that it may be developed as a new location for the hospital’s subsidiary, First Physicians Group. Several new housing projects are set in this East County area, among which are the retirement community of Del Webb Lakewood Ranch and a pair of golf communities—Lakewood Ranch National and Bridgewater East.

If this latest SMH plan pans out, the new facility will be in addition to the First Physicians Group’s clinic, located on State Road 64 in Heritage Harbor in Manatee County. In this location, the medical services offered include diagnostics, urgent care, and pain care. It has been in operation for about seven years, manned by two physicians and two medical assistants.