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Medical tourism business uses Web portals to widen customer base

Medical tourism is estimated to be a $65 billion market with more than one million Americans flying beyond their borders in search of lower priced procedures, shorter wait times and more exotic locations. That’s inspired several companies to develop ways to direct these tourists. including Archimedicx.

In a deal with Russia Internet company Mail.Ru Group, which runs one of the largest Internet portals in Russia, mail.ru, Archimedicx will integrate its search engine with the health section of the portal, according to a company statement.

Archimedicx claims to have hospitals from 20 countries in its network. The company launched its search engine last year after building the company for three years. When users search for one of 300 elective procedures, it offers up the name and location of the hospital with an estimated price tag and wait time. Users can refine their search by continent, whether the patient is a child or adult, language, wait time, and price. It also provides a rating which the company says is arrived at through an algorithm “based on hundreds of indicators which have a direct an indirect affect on the outcome of a procedure.” It said that it does not advertise or promote any hospital.

In response to emailed questions, CEO and founder Moni Milchman said, “Our aim is to work only with the best 1,000 hospitals worldwide in accordance to our findings, so there would be countries and even regions in which none of the hospitals would be included in our ranked list of hospitals.”

He said that as with mail.ru, it will grow by integrating its service with large national and international portals which deal with healthcare, as an additional and free service for their users.

One of the challenging things for medical tourism companies to surmount is the trust issue. Users are often relying on these companies to transmit their medical records securely and reliably. For its part, Archemedicx claims it complies with HIPAA requirements.

“Of course there are many other marketing channels, online and offline. Archimedicx is currently discussing further partnership with leading players in different parts of the world, including China, Europe, USA, and others.”

Milchman said it generates revenue through a referral fee from the hospital the patient using its service chooses to go to. we do not advertise or promote any hospital. He said “around 250 people” have been assisted by Archimedicx, “without any specific action on behalf of the company,” currently a few dozen are in the process of being referred to hospitals.

“In the near future we shall add many more verticals which may add a much larger source of revenue, like health insurance, financing, transportation, facilitation, hotels accommodation etc. Most of these verticals will be done through agreement with dedicated and professional third parties, so that the patient will be able to find most of his needs through our site.”

Among some of the medical tourism startups are MedigoDocDoc and Emissary, among others.