There’s a new movement making headway in Thailand medical travel, and its aim is to establish the country as the industry leader of what’s been given the alluring moniker “luxury health tourism.”
One of the key players is the Thailand Luxury Health Tourism Assembly, and one of its prime movers is Dr. Anongnuth Chavalithamrong. She serves as the assembly’s Vice President, and if the organization enjoys the same kind of success that she has had personally in her career, they’ll be in great shape.
Dr. Anongnuth Chavalithamrong
Her background includes an MD with honors from Thailand’s most prestigious university, a Stanford MBA, and a litany of certifications from various American healthcare academies. Her specialty is anti-aging treatments in Thailand, and they’re a big part of luxury medical tourism’s offerings.
When myMEDholiday.com spoke to her about the Thailand Luxury Health Tourism Assembly’s main objectives, she was quick to offer a big-picture assessment.
“To promote medical tourism to Thailand,” said Dr. Anongnuth, “with key activities including organizing an annual Medical Tourism Expo, organizing road shows, and publishing a physician/clinic directory.”
These may sound like modest ambitions, but they’re the kinds of things that go a long way towards getting people’s attention. We asked her what her role would be specifically when it comes to attracting patients from overseas.
“My main role is to be the spokesperson who communicates with various agencies and the press. My background is in anti-aging medicine, and I was actually the first Thai doctor to be certified in this field.”
It turns out Dr. Anongnuth has been practicing anti-aging medicine for more than 15 years, with a fair amount of PR and key-note speaking mixed in as well.
She added, “I co-founded the Thai Association of Anti-Aging Medicine and organized the first Bangkok Conference on Anti-Aging in 2004, as well as lectured internationally for the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.”
So having on board an anti-aging expert like Dr. Anongnuth would seem to indicate that Thailand’s luxury health tourism campaign has placed a strong emphasis on things like cosmetic facial rejuvenation procedures, laser-assisted body contouring, chelation and detoxification programs, and other regenerative treatments.
And according to Dr. Anongnuth, the other kinds of healthcare that will be central to the luxury health tourism model include “aesthetic procedures like plastic surgery and Botox and dermal-fillers, plus infertility procedures, stem cell treatments, and even advanced cosmetic dentistry.”
Taking a step back for a moment, what precisely is luxury medical tourism, and why should medical tourists come to Thailand for this sort of care?
“These are medical treatments that are targeted at health and well-being as opposed to treating disease. Most of these, of course, aren’t covered by health insurance, and are therefore self-pay,” she said.
“As for why patients from abroad should make Thailand their primary luxury health tourism destination, as with all medical care here, we have highly qualified doctors, cutting edge technology, first-class facilities, all at affordable prices. Luxury medical care is very expensive in most countries.”
Savings is of course just one reason why Thailand is the world’s #1 medical tourism destination, and having several centers of excellence like Wattanosoth Cancer Hospital – which is at the forefront of state-of-the-art brain tumor treatments – is another.
But what about innovation? What sorts of medical innovations – which is what “luxury health tourism” certainly sounds like – does Thailand offer to medical tourists?
“I would say the way we can integrate various medical treatments to provide comprehensive care. In Thailand we have collected all of the best and latest technologies, integrated them, and improved on them. For example endotherapia for the treatment of MS, non-surgical vascular treatments, and molecular diagnostics.”
And that’s a fairly clear-cut accounting of what the Thailand Luxury Health Tourism Assembly has on its plate: promoting and delivering a new opportunity for medical tourists that lives up to the high standards that Thailand has set.