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…

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  1. Posted June 14, 2007 at 17:35 | Permalink

    My wife and I both received medical care in Bangkok (for Dengue). She was admitted to the hospital, even. We were both extremely happy with the care we received. I was so taken that I went ahead and had a bunch of dental work done that was going to set me back a few grand in the States, but cost only about $100 over there. Again, I was extremely happy with it. Until I had been back a couple of years and my crown came off. And I had to subsequently have all the work re-done.


    It bought me some time and let me get work done that I otherwise couldn’t have afforded and really needed to have done.

  2. Posted June 14, 2007 at 17:51 | Permalink

    hey Mat —

    eep! That doesn’t sound so great. (mind you, I think crowns occasionally will come off anyway — it may not be a reflection on Thai dentistry, I hope…)

  3. nishad
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 19:26 | Permalink

    That’s right, white people. Keep outsourcing everything to us. Soon, we will own your ass and sell you all into slavery and prostitution, HAHAHAHA!

    PS. Justin, your damn anti-spam test is case-sensitive. Please fix!!!

  4. Posted June 14, 2007 at 21:05 | Permalink

    Good for sick people – but terrible for carbon emissions…

  5. Posted June 24, 2007 at 23:22 | Permalink

    Caelen and Barbara are married???

  6. Posted June 24, 2007 at 23:36 | Permalink

    they’re not? I just assumed they were. whoops. ;)

  7. Dan Trenner
    Posted June 25, 2007 at 15:08 | Permalink

    Hi Justin,

    I appreciated what you had to say about medical tourism and Caelen and Barbara’s site looks great. There is another one you should know about. Three Americans living in Mumbai (Bombay) for 20+ years have put together I used them and LOVED them. Even got to see Mt. Everest on a flight arranged. They actually have an Indian company called America’s Medical Solutions Pvt. Ltd. I personally have been a patient at three different hospitals, Asian Heart Inst., Wockhardt, and one of their dentist and I cannot say enough good about the treatment and the prices. By the way, crowns will definitely come off. I had one fitted from the States and it came off TWICE. Both times I was overseas when it happened. :-/ But having to have an entire job done over sounds a bit much. The dentist I used has the very latest and expensive equipment. I have never had as good a treatment in the states. Another hospital I visited for my mother is Shroff Eye Hospital. She has wet macular degeneration and cataracts. This hospital is at least in my opinion the best one in the world as all of them have been practicing on patients with equipment not yet available to Americans in the States for more than three years. I know Cathy who had her hip resurfaced at Wockhardt who is recently in the news and she has an entirely new life thanks to Wockhardt. Best! Dan

  8. Posted June 26, 2007 at 17:50 | Permalink

    Caelen sent on this press release:


    Dublin, Ireland. 26th June 2007. Reva Health Network, the world’s leading Medical Tourism search engine, generates in excess of one million dollars of business for hospitals and clinics worldwide every week. With a choice of over 200 Healthcare Providers in 30 different countries, thousands of patients have used Reva to find the right hospital or clinic for their healthcare needs.

    The Medical Tourism market is currently valued at over $20 billion dollars annually and is experiencing double digit annual growth. Patients are choosing to escape long waiting lists and expensive doctor’s and dentist’s fees in their home countries. Last year in America alone 500,000 people became medical tourists and over a million overseas patients were treated in both in Hungary and in Thailand.

    “The growth of our health network has been phenomenal,” said Caelen King, CEO of Reva Health Network. “We have new hospitals and clinics joining our network on a daily basis and an ever increasing number of consumers looking for quality information. The strong desire for affordable healthcare coupled with our easily searchable directory is creating massive opportunities for international healthcare providers. This market can only grow and grow.”

    From California to India, potential patients are searching Reva’s database for every conceivable type of treatment, from cosmetic surgery to cardiology. Dental treatments in Hungary and Poland are particularly popular for patients from Western Europe, whereas dentists and cosmetic surgeons in Costa Rica and Mexico are very much in demand with the US market.

    The value of each individual treatment varies, but typical costs are in the region of three to four thousand dollars. This can represent a massive saving of up to 70% on the cost of treatment compared to their home country.


    Philip Boyle

    Reva Health Network

    Telephone: +353 1 6616 147 Email: info /at/

  9. Posted December 3, 2007 at 15:22 | Permalink

    Portugal and Spain are new markets as well.

  10. Posted March 27, 2008 at 19:13 | Permalink

    Do you keep stats of how many people fail the moronic anti-spam test? Thanks for the good comments about medical tourism in Thailand. We’d very much like to know where your reader got the dental work that failed and where he got it completely redone. Like one other reader mentioned, it seems unlikely that was warranted so we are actually more interested in learning more about the second dentist than the first. These types of reports help us advise patients about the current best value for money in Thailand. May I also let people know that there are currently about 1,500 people in the world who now believe they made a MISTAKE to get a sex change. So don’t be so sure it’s a good thing that some doctors in Thailand will let you get SRS GRS with no psychiatric approval letters as specified by the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care. One hospital with a very high opinion of itself only delays the sex change a week if you don’t come with psychiatric approval. For the moronic readers: THAT IS NOT A GOOD THING. Believe me, it is no easy matter to turn a guy back into a guy after a doc in Phuket turns him into a girl. And you cannot get that done in Thailand. We only know one professor of urology in Belgrade that can do it well. It costs plenty and can only be done in multiple stages over many months. And for the other moronic readers who think the sex change in Bangkok being advertised for US$1,625 sounds like a great deal. IT IS NOT A GOOD THING. Don’t ask us about it. We won’t help you get it. DON’T do it. Duh.

  11. Posted April 9, 2009 at 16:46 | Permalink


    Medical tourism is only as good as the hospital and doctor you choose. We can help with leads to JCI accredited hospitals and board-certified doctors. The ultimate decision is always yours.