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Irish medical tourism

Just got a mail from an old friend, Caelen, who’s got a new start-up going with an interesting angle. Caelen and his (now-) wife, Barbara, spent a while travelling around Asia around the same time as we did. As I noted back in 2003, one thing he tried out, which I found particularly intriguing at the time, was to have some minor surgery in Bangkok:

This may seem foolish at first, but despite being in the heart of South East Asia, in what is generally thought to be a developing country, the Thai medical system is unbelievably good. Not only is it the medical hub for expatriates throughout the region, but tens of thousands fly here each year to have elective surgery, from laser eye treatments to boob jobs and face lifts. There are lots of reasons why they come to Bangkok but invariably quality of surgery and care comes top of the list. Simply put, medical care in Thailand is amongst the best in the word, available at a fraction of the cost.

The Thai government sees health care as the next logical step in its hospitality industry. As holiday makers in Thailand reach saturation point, growth has to come from other sectors and international healthcare has many of the same requirements as the tourism industry: good flight connections, plentiful accommodation and above all staff that are understanding and friendly. Gleaming hospitals, which could be mistaken for 5 star hotels, not only have rooms with all amenities but also have suites, restaurants, shops and cinemas. Menus from the finest restaurants in town are placed in the best rooms. Going to hospital doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun – this is Bangkok after all. This is a long way from the cold greasy egg served by the kitchen’s ‘Miserable Person of the Year’ award winner we get at home.

Back in 2002, this was pretty unprecedented — of course, nowadays, the concept is a lot more widely practiced, what with healthcare costs rising in the US and waiting lists rising in the UK.

I can vouch that the quality of care in Bangkok was fantastic, by all accounts; fastidiously clean and professional. (I never did it myself, but many people I knew at the time took advantage of the opportunity, rather than risk something flaring up in the less, er, reliable settings of Luang Prabang or Phnom Penh.)

Anyway, turns out Caelen has come up with a new site that is related to this — Reva Health Network. He says, ‘basically, we are a medical tourism search engine where consumers can find and compare hospitals and clinics from around the world. We cover everything although the bulk of our business is currently in dental.’

If you’re looking for some work done, it might be worth taking a look; it’s at

Update 2010-08-16: They’ve moved! The new URL is , which makes much more sense really. Apparently they’re getting 500,000 visitors a month, and proxy though 800 phone calls a day to clinics. Cool — sounds like it’s going well…