Interview with Sanivisit in Reston, Virginia

This morning I met with executives from Sanivisit, a new medical tourism company based here in Reston, Virginia.  This company is affiliated with the Colsanitas corporation in Bogotá, Colombia.

I met with Mr. Alberto Ospina, a native Bogotano and President of Sanivisit and his colleague, Ms. Monica Wainbarg, Medical Tourism Advisor.  Both of them were very gracious and interested in this project.

I was surprised and pleased to see that both of these individuals have certainly done their homework.  In this past, I have had mixed experiences with medical tourism companies.  Some have been excellent, but others like the LaMontes, (interviewed for Cartagena surgery project) were blatant opportunists with little understanding or caring about the specialized needs of the medical tourist.

This was not the case with Sanivisit.  Both of the executives I met with have personally visited and met with all of the physicians involved.  They have toured and inspected travel facilities, and have arranged for VIP services for their clients.  As Mr. Ospina explained, “I’ve been in every hotel, measured the rooms, talked to the staff.  I make sure that rooms are clean, and comfortable.  I make sure that there is room for wheelchair accessibility. I talk to everyone. I make sure that everyone involved knows what we are doing.”

This includes arranging for transportation, diagnostic testing, doctors appointments, private nursing care after surgery, and even physician house calls, if needed.

Right now, they are trying to get the Colsanitas hospitals included in some of the medical tourism pilot projects (as alternatives to India) with several health insurance companies.  As readers know, several other large health insurance companies already support and encourage medical tourism excursions, and have establish separate divisions to assist medical tourism efforts.  (Unfortunately, in many cases these divisions exclusively work with Indian hospitals.  As we’ve discussed at Cartagena Surgery on multiple occasions, and published elsewhere on-line – India is a less than ideal location for American patients for several reasons.)

Since the company is in its infancy. the next year will be the trial by fire for Colombian medical tourism, Sanivisit and Colsanitas.  They seem like genuine, and caring individuals.  I wish them the best of luck.

In the future, I hope to interview some of their returning clients for readers here – to get their perspectives and experiences.


For the sake of absolute transparency and honesty, I would like to disclose that I have offered several of my articles on Medical tourism to Sanivisit for their use (with no compensation or remuneration.)

Update: October 2011

Sanivisit participates in medical tourism conference

Patient Safety & Medical Tourism

I’ve posted a link to an article talking about patient safety, and facility/ physician oversight in foreign medical facilities for patients seeking medical tourism options.

This is the rationale and purpose behind the both the Cartagena and the upcoming Bogotá books – that as an independent, unbiased reviewer and health care professional; I am able to observe, interview and evaluate facilities, surgeons and procedures for safety issues (and adherence to accepted national and international standards / protocols.)

This eliminates the uncertainty for patients seeking medical tourism; is the facility clean?  Are the physicians licensed?  Are the procedures performed according to accepted practices?

As a reputable, practicing health care provider with no secondary gain (other than book sales), patients can find a trustworthy source for this information.   I don’t work for the surgeons, the medical tourism companies or the governments of the host countries.  I don’t make a dime from these medical procedures – and have no vested interest in where patients ultimately seek care.

But, the development of infections, post-operative complications or other problems with medical tourism is bad for business (for the providers and facilities reviewed) so these facilities had a vested interest in letting me into their hospitals and their operating rooms.  They wanted me to see what they had to offer – particularly the facilities that are doing everything right..

(The facilities that weren’t following accepted practices invited me in, as well.  I think because they assumed that an American nurse wouldn’t know any better.)  That’s their oversight, and to your benefit – because I was able to observe and report my findings to you, my readers.

I think this is going to become a more popular and frequent practice – but hopefully the reviewers are going to be people like me; people familiar with the procedures and practices, and the operating room.  This is another separate issue – that has already reared its head.  There are several medical tourism books out there, including books that have made millions of dollars, written by arm-chair MBAs who looked at published statistics (only) and used this as the basis of their reports.. As everyone knows, published statistics are only part of the story, and can certainly be manipulated.

Physically viewing the facilities, talking to the surgeons and watching the procedures are the real test of how things function on a daily basis, and what care a patient should expect.

Friday, I am heading to Reston, Virginia to interview one of the people involved with the new Colsanitas medical tourism venture that we discussed in a previous post.  I’ve already been to the hospitals in Colombia (Clinica Colombia and Reina Sofia) and I’ve interviewed the surgeons involved, so I know the quality and care provided by the facilities involved.  But do they?  What rigor has this company performed to protect potential patients (and consumers of their services)?  In this case, I know that both the hospitals and the surgeons are excellent, but do they?  And how do they know this?   I’ll try to get answers to all of these questions and post them here for readers.

Medical Tourism in my own backyard..

New agreement with Colsanitas and a company in Northern Virginia is bringing Colombia to the author’s backyard..

Now, for more intimate details of the Bogotá Colsanitas facilities and the surgeons operating there – you’ll have to pick up a copy of Bogotá! The book is being reviewed right now, so we’re getting closer and closer to publication..

In the OR with Dr. Javier Maldonado

Dr. Javier Maldonado, cardiac surgeon

No southern accent, per say, just a gentle, relaxed way of speaking that reminds me of home.. Went to the operating room with Dr. Javier Maldonado at Clinica Colombia this morning, for a three vessel off-pump CABG.  Everything went smooth – textbook perfect..

I followed him to the Cardiovascular ICU  and then to his cardiac clinic to see patients..

After a productive and pleasant morning (and afternoon), I raced over to Clinica Shaio to catch the end of the minimally invasive cardiac surgery symposium, and to interview Dr. Barbosa, one of the first surgeons I interviewed for the Cartagena book..

Dr. Javier Maldonado

Cardiac surgeon, Fundacion Santa Fe de Bogota, Clinica Colombia