Joyce Alumno’s career in hospitality morphed into a career in medical tourism after a personal experience with a private hospital. Ten-years ago Joyce began caring for her father in a private hospital. During her fathers stay, she observed many areas of the hospital’s non-clinical care that needed improvement.
At the time, Joyce was managing a 5-star resort, a job vastly different from her position now as the Philippines country manager for Aster DM Healthcare Group. She is also the founder and executive director of HealthCORE, the center for global healthcare management and medical tourism research and communications in the Philippines. Joyce is also the regional representative for Temos certification of Germany.
Aster DM Healthcare is headquartered in Dubai. Since its inception, Aster-DM Healthcare has grown from one clinic to over 200 medical establishments. Recently India has become a major player in medical travel, and Aster-DM has opened AsterMed City, a 40-acre area to serve as a healthcare hub. The medical tourism destination has 1,100 beds, and soon will have a hotel and conference center.
During her father’s stay at the hospital, Joyce began brainstorming how tourism and healthcare could work together. Through research she found that the relationship between healthcare and hospitality was already forming in other countries. She approached the Philippine government to discuss how the Philippines could benefit from medical tourism.
“I believe there is definitely something for the healthcare sector to learn from the hospitality industry. In healthcare we are too focused on just delivering medication and other clinical services. We somehow lose point of actual care of the patient. Something beyond the clinical care, more of the emotional care. Not just for the patient, but for the family that is actually tending to them, ” says Ms. Alumno.
As fate would have it, three years ago Joyce became involved in the accreditation of hospitals. Last year, Joyce was invited by the Philippine Minister of Tourism to become an assessor for accommodations. “We are at a point when we are trying to combine both the standards for healthcare and hospitality through another certification.”
Joyce says that countries develop medical and hospitality standards based on cultural expectations and needs. She believes the future of medical travel accreditations will remain different for each country. Some countries, like Indonesia, who do not have their own standards often reach out to accrediting bodies in other countries to help create a set of guidelines for their country based on cultural needs. Some Philippine medical organizations are accredited by MEDH. Medical providers in the Philippines like to reach for MEDH certification because of the cultural aspects and cultural sensitivity.