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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

School of Business hosts international medical tourism expert

International scholar David Reisman, an expert in medical tourism, visited UNC Pembroke’s School of Business on October 22 for two seminars and a lecture with students and faculty.

Dr. Reisman, who is a faculty member at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, was on his way to Ft. Lauderdale for the 5th Annual World Medical Tourism and Global Healthcare Congress, where he will give two lectures as an invited speaker.

David Reisman with student Pardon Ndhlovu

David Reisman with student Pardon Ndhlovu

Black Line

“I will give two presentations, one on multinational corporations and the globalization of health care and another on the globalization of medical manpower,” Dr. Reisman said in an interview.

At noon, Dr. Reisman defined medical tourism for students and faculty. He is uncomfortable with the term medical tourism, because it involves many issues from the migration of patients and medical labor to multinational medical coorporations. He argued for more research on what has become a multi-billion dollar global trade.

“Now, statistics are almost non-existent, but researchers need to know more because is it growing,” he said. “Modern medical tourism a15-year-old phenomenon. It is no longer when the sultan of Brunei bring an entourage to London for medical care.”

The U.S. receives approximately 400,000 medical tourists, but Costa Rica receives 150,000, he noted of the changing dynamics between third and first world countries.

One of Dr. Reisman’s areas of study is the healthcare labor market. Twenty-five percent of U.S. doctors are trained abroad, perhaps making a case for training more doctors in the first world, he said.

British born and educated, Dr. Reisman teaches, among other courses, health economics, which is notably absent from U.S. business school curriculums.

“When 14 percent of the national business is in healthcare, it makes sense to study it,” he said. “Is it effective? Is it efficient? These are important questions.”

At a time when more and more Americans are traveling abroad for surgery and other medical treatments, it makes sense to study medical tourism. Dr. Reisman said medical tourism has advantages and disadvantages for patients, the healthcare industry and nations, rich and poor.

“We need more graduate students in this area,” he said. “Two of your economists, Dr. (James) Frederick and Dr. (Lydia) Gan, are doing an empirical study, surveying people’s views about medical tourism.

“This is very important work because health tourism is under-researched,” he said. “People at your university are very receptive to new ideas, and it’s good to hear. That’s what makes a campus dynamic.”

Dr. Reisman’s trip to Pembroke reunited him with former Nanyang University colleagues, Dr. Gan and Dr. Rami Maysami, dean of the School of Business, who was pleased to be reacquainted with a friend.

Dr. Reisman is professor emeritus of the University of Surrey in the U.K. He studied at the London School of Economics, where he earned a Ph.D. Besides health economics, his scholarly work includes politics and the history of economic thought.

His books included “Medical Tourism,”  “Health Care and Public Policy,” “The Social Economics of Thorstein Veblen” and “Conservative Capitalism.”

For more information about UNCP’s School of Business, please contact them at 910.521-6214 or email

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