Medical tourism program launches in San Diego

Bradley J. Fikes, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Business News

SAN DIEGO -- In the heart of San Diego's biomedical community, in a tourist-friendly setting overlooking the Pacific Ocean, civic leaders officially kicked off a program to attract wealthy patients and their families.

DestinationCare San Diego unites four local health care systems along with the San Diego Tourism Authority to market the region.

The message is that San Diego has a rare combination of a tourist-friendly climate, advanced research expertise in critical areas such as genomics, and excellent clinical care. So while patients are cared for, their friends and family members can enjoy all San Diego County has to offer.

The announcement was made Monday at the Worth Health Summit, held at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, the kind of high-end resort affluent travelers frequent.

Speaking were Joe Terzi, the tourism authority's president and CEO, and Malin Burnham, a veteran philanthropist who provided $100,000 to get the program off the ground. The tourism authority is also supplying funding.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer endorsed the initiative in a brief appearance.

The summit included a presentation by genomic pioneer J. Craig Venter, whose enterprises include Human Longevity, a La Jolla company that offers in-depth health examinations with the newest technologies.

UC San Diego Health System, Scripps Health, Sharp Healthcare and Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego constitute the program's four anchors. It's expected that other quality health care providers will be added, Terzi said.

But first, the program has to get off the ground.

"The goal has been to start with this nucleus, because they are the primary (health care) institutions in the San Diego, " Terzi said. "So once we start to move out, there is a discussion about where do we extend, and how far. Because we want the treatment to be rated very highly."


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