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JORDAN, KUWAIT: Improving medical tourism quality in the Middle East

Jordan’s Ministry of Health is setting up a new directorate to monitor the Kingdom's medical tourism sector. The directorate aims to address any complaints by Arab and foreign patients receiving treatment in the Kingdom and regulate the sector. The ministry is working with private hospitals to ensure that they abide by set treatment prices. One project aims to find ways of regulating and monitoring the quality of treatment provided to medical tourists to maintain the reputation of the country's health sector.

As part of the new measures, the ministry will establish a liaison office at the airport to receive patients seeking treatment in the Kingdom's hospitals and provide them with the information they need. It will also coordinate with embassies of countries that send patients seeking medical care in Jordan and follow up with the patients themselves from the moment they arrive and until they leave.

Considered one of the main contributors to the national economy, medical tourism brings in revenues of $1 billion annually. According to Private Hospitals Association figures, 220,000 patients from across the world received treatment in the Kingdom's private hospitals last year, up from 200,000 in 2008 and 190,000 in 2007.

In cooperation with the Private Hospitals Association (PHA), USAID Jordan Economic Development Program (SABEQ) held a workshop for PHA member hospitals on guidelines for creating a customer service culture in hospitals. In line with its continued support for PHA member hospitals to become internationally accredited to promote medical tourism in Jordan, SABEQ Program's support has been given to raise standards of members' level of service through various training programs. SABEQ's ultimate goal is to increase member hospitals' revenues from medical tourism. Customer Service at hospitals is one of the pillars for medical tourism sector growth sustainability, as it reflects the standards of medical care in these hospitals and building a culture of customer service starts with top management leadership and direction. The workshop promoted the notion that each hospital employee, whether medical or non-medical, must offer excellent customer service.

Mark McCord of USAID SABEQ comments, “SABEQ had previously trained a group of employees at five PHA-member hospitals to become trainers in customer service. This workshop will enable hospitals to conduct continuous training for all their employees. To grow medical tourism in Jordan, hospitals must offer world-class customer service. The competition for foreign patients is significant, which makes excellence in customer services a prerequisite for success in medical tourism."

Kuwait’s Ministry of Health has announced plans to sign contracts with foreign medical experts to run medical facilities in the country. The move is part of a strategy to upgrade the quality of medical services on offer. The ministry is also adding new buildings at a number of general and specialist hospitals, to increase capacity from 1000 to 2000 beds.

Medical tourism news15 July 2010
Related linkUSAID SABEQ

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