European Medical Tourism Alliance formed

The European Medical Tourism Alliance (EuMTA) is a recently formed not-for-profit organisation based in Hungary, which intends to represent the interests of agencies, clinics and hospitals in the European medical tourism industry.

A Hungarian, Balázs Stumpf-Biró is the founder and executive director. It may change its name soon as the European Hospital and Healthcare Federation is keen to work with the organisation, but prefers healthcare travel to healthcare tourism. It is currently discussing membership with clinics, hospitals and operating in, or sending people to, Europe. (EuMTA) aims to:

• Represent the interests of stakeholders in the medical tourism industry.

• Harmonise industry activities.

• Provide compelling alternative solutions for shortcomings in the health care systems of the USA.

• Bring awareness to Europeans of the existence in Europe of high-quality medical alternatives.

* Become an active industry forum.

* Develop strong political and private sector lobbying capacity in the EU.

* Improve patient mobility and promote free choice of medical provider.
Balázs Stumpf-Biró told IMTJ: “We are a Brussels-registered pan-European legal entity. For the first months of this year, we have been establishing connections with government and medical institutions as well as acknowledged professionals to gain legitimacy for the organisation. We have just opened up membership. There are some companies lined up and showed their interest to get involved. We are certainly not in a hurry as we believe in quality over quantity.”

With two existing global trade bodies, and a recent newcomer, IMTJ asked why a fourth was needed.

“An independent European trade association is necessary as this is how the majority of industry players feel. MTA is based in the United States, IMTA is in Singapore, how could we expect any of them to be a true representative of European interests? Or get along with the really specific EU legislation? We have shown our interest to both organisations for strong cooperation and working together, towards a transparent and safe global healthcare. No positive answer arrived yet from either.”

The organisation believes that while Europe has for many years been  active and attractive within Europe, the quality of medical care and healthcare facilities is less well-known elsewhere. Europe could become a bigger player if countries and organisations in it work together and promote the quality of care, significant saving within Europe compared to some EU countries or the USA, and that it is a much safer travel destination than many competitors.

Once the key European participants in medical tourism are united in an entity that will represent and defend their interests in key markets, then it will be possible to promote Europe to people who now look elsewhere

EuMTA is an European Economic Interest Grouping as defined by EU rules. So companies in different companies can work together in ways that do not breach strict rules on anti-competitive behaviour.

There are three main categories of members; Founding (who bring capital), Full (from European Economic Area [EEA] countries) and Supporting (from inside or outside the EEA). To ensure European interests are foremost, only Full members have voting rights. It will be run by an executive director and four other board directors, with an advisory panel of experts. Membership projections are modest, with 60 in 2009, 80 in 2010 and 120 in 2011.