By Adel Eldin, Frederick DeMicco
With an aging society, and travel and tourism likely to increase post covid-19, would a hotel or resort partnering with an onsite medical clinic (franchise) benefit and provide a competitive advantage to the owners? A case for an Innovative onsite hotel clinic as a potential franchise model in medical travel/tourism for lodging operations could be made. There are some lodging and medical clinic models that already exist. One is RosenCare® and another is ProntoCare. Described below, RosenCare® and ProntoCare may provide a template for onsite medical clinics at hotels and resorts and may provide a new competitive advantage for lodging operations and ownership.
The Coronavirus Pandemic has changed so many aspects of our lives. Healthcare is no exception. The associated economic hardships dictate a brand-new approach as consumers can no longer afford the very high healthcare premium costs in addition to high out of pocket costs. Most affected adversely are a small business, medium-sized businesses, middle-class hard-working Americans who are struggling to make ends meet. New healthcare models can serve hotel and hospitality industry employees and medical tourism and medical travel visitors, where guests find satisfaction in quality customer service and personalized healthcare at affordable prices. Hotels and resorts may wish to form a strategic alliance for travelers who may seek out and select a hotel because it offers valued medical and healthcare reassurances while they venture out on their travel and tourism journey.
The Prontocare Franchise model, is one example already in the marketplace, could provide a solution to the healthcare escalating costs, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic which overwhelmed the healthcare system, along with the associated economic crisis which resulted in delayed access of patients to healthcare that created the need for alternative health care sites.
Onsite medical clinics as well as virtual clinics in collaboration with hotels and the hospitality industry also can provide a solution as hospitals reach bed capacity with a potential surge in Coronavirus cases in the upcoming fall and winter season. Thus, low, and medium risk patients could be safely housed by hotels and the hospitality industry as a reasonable choice (https://www.hotel-online.com/press_releases/release/a-model-for-hotels-to-hospitals-h2h-during-an-unprecedented-era/).
A healthcare model such as a ProntoCare can benefit hotel and hospitality employees as well as their lodging guests. These partner medical clinics can increase the profitability of the hospitality industry making up for the lost revenue resulting from the marked decrease in the travel industry, serving the hotel clients (and the hotel employees as well) in a safe environment, can be a win-win medical model (http://www.prontocare.co/) .
Medical Tourists and Medical Travelers to Hotels
Think about the peace of mind a domestic and the international traveler with a preexisting medical condition will have if a lodging destination has a partner medical clinic at (or one nearby) your hotel or resort. It can be on the same property and could potentially tie into your current health spa and wellness efforts for example or be located nearby (with valet transportation provided as a service to hotel guests). This could provide a competitive advantage for a hotel.
A mixed-use concept, Hospitality Bridging Health or H2H creates a new and innovative business model for entrepreneurs to fulfill the unmet needs of certain cautious tourists, medical travelers and their families in a hygienic, complementary and friendly environment that provides quality accommodations, upscale treatments and state-of-the-art wellness centers for any needed medical assistance while traveling (http/glomed.education/wp-content/uploads/Hotels-to-Healthcare.pdf ) . With our society aging, the idea of “hotels bridging health care,” or H2H, is gaining ground. See Figure 1 below.
Figure 1 Prontocare in Action in Tampa, Florida
As part of the broader field of medical tourism/medical travel, which links medical facilities to hotels and/or spas, H2H strategically connects hotels and hospitals to create a total customer experience. High treatment prices and the challenged healthcare system in the USA have encouraged outbound medical travel and dissuaded many foreign patients from considering it as a medical travel destination. An innovative, self-insured employee healthcare model developed by Harris Rosen, the founder of Rosen Hotels & Resorts in Florida, has the potential to change this with RosenCare® (DeMicco and Pizam, 2019)
Relevance of the RosenCare® Model to US Medical Tourism
The RosenCare® model and their method of hospital billing spreads throughout not only the US hospitality and tourism industries but also other industries, inbound medical tourism to the US will increase and outbound medical tourism will decrease (https://www.imtj.com/articles/rosencare-approach-could-boost-medical-travel-usa/ ) . Following are some reasons:
- The costs of medical services in the US will decrease. As a result, the US will be more competitive for inbound medical tourists, who will come for advanced medical procedures and treatments such as: coronary disease, cancer, cerebrovascular disorders, etc. It will also be more attractive to international tourists who may seek cosmetic and dental surgeries.
- When inbound medical tourism to the US reaches significant levels, more hotels will be interested in building accommodation facilities on hospital campuses that cater specifically to international visitors and their families. At present, there are already some examples of top brand hotels built on hospital campuses, e.g. Hilton/Baptist Hospital; Cleveland Clinic/Rosewood Hotel (Hospital Hotels, 2018).
- It is also possible that either Rosen Hotels in Florida or some other hotel owners will eventually decide to extend the RosenCare® model to their onsite guests, especially for non-complex or selective treatments.
- At present, many US healthcare organizations provide healthcare services to their own employees through insurance companies that have specific programs tailor-made to the healthcare industry. If the RosenCare® model is adopted in hospital groups, these organizations will incur significant employee healthcare savings that can be used to reduce the fees for medical services to medical tourists (DeMicco and Pizam, 2019).
Medical tourism, medical travel and health services are a way for hotels and resorts with these complimentary medical facilities to differentiate themselves from their competitive set and provide a strategic advantage in the Lodging marketplace. In the recent economic downturns, hotels associated with health care facilities also appeared to be recession proof (DeMicco, 2017).
Some Advantages that a Prontocare type Franchise Model Could Offer to Lodging
1. Prontocare offers hassle-free healthcare compared with traditional Insurance which has been failing for many years with rising premiums and out of pocket costs to consumers.
2. More focus on Wellness and disease prevention especially when it comes to chronic disease management which consumes 85 percent of total healthcare cost
3. Saves money for patients, employers, and businesses while delivering better care at a lower cost.
4. There are no copayments, deductibles, and hidden out of pocket cost.
5. Makes all appropriate referrals to subspecialists for discounted cash pricing through a transparent mechanism so as there no hidden cost to consumers or employers ((http://www.prontocare.co/).
6. Pronto Care will connect guests with their medical needs to health affiliates (pharmacy, labs, diagnostics, etc.) at cost savings to help patients and will also advocate for them.
Healthcare and safe travel practices are going to continue to be driven by consumerism with the current impact of social media that makes patients (consumers) more educated about their options and choices in healthcare including Concierge Medicine. This trend has only been accelerated with COVID-19 and with the uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act could make concepts like Prontocare and RosenCare® a very attractive choice for consumers and businesses.
Hotels and resorts may wish to form a strategic alliance with travel agents for travelers who may seek and select a hotel because it offers and provides the medical and healthcare reassurances while their guests venture out on their travel and tourism journey. Hotels and resorts can have a franchise opportunity in association with an innovative medical and healthcare concept such as a Prontocare. In addition, and at a cost savings, hotels can also offer medical, wellness and health services for their own hotel employees, managers, and family members as RosenCare® has successfully and skillfully done already.
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