Globalization of Health Care

Health Care Industry of the Month July, 2012 – Globalization of Health

Macharia Waruingi, MD, DHA

Describe the industry you work in.

I established an organization known as Ustawi International whose business is globalization of health care. The work involves developing hospitals, medical clinics, clinical laboratories, imaging centers, and pharmaceutical business in countries around the world. Globalization of health care also involves building systems for medical travel, medical tourism, and transnational telemedicine.

Ustawi has two missions.  One of the missions is to discover opportunities in health care businesses in countries around the world through research. The other mission is to implement research results by consulting and building health systems.

The Ustawi Research Institute (URI) is the division responsible for health services research. The Global Health Care Systems (GHCS) is the division responsible for implementation of research results by consulting and building health systems.

The URI is involved in both qualitative and quantitative health services research. In addition, URI conducts planning, implementation, and post implementation evaluations of health services and programs.

The GHCS helps clients interpret the research findings. The interpretation process involves helping the clients find money, people, and technologies needed to complete a project.  The GHCS also oversees the implementation of projects. Finally, the GHCS provides administrative and technical support after project implementation.

How does it fit with the health care industry?

The advent of the Internet and mobile technologies fueled unprecedented opportunities for knowledge exchange. Rapidly shared knowledge has opened up new markets, with new business opportunities in the emerging markets. Business is booming. This means more money to local people in many countries. Hundreds of millions of local people have gained middle-income status in many countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, China, and Nigeria, and South Africa.

This unprecedented economic growth has created an equally unprecedented demand for social services such as health care and education. Newly wealthy people now have financial resources to pay for high quality medical care.

The problem is that emerging markets lack good medical facilities. The health services lag behind the economic development. This creates major opportunity for health care professionals, and health care organizations in United States to sell expertize to the emerging markets. Ustawi fits in this market as an organization keenly focused on discovery of knowledge about the health services market in emerging economies, converting that knowledge into consulting products, and participating in building the needed health systems.

Emerging nations that are creating world-class health facilities have become serious destinations for travel medicine and medical tourism. Increasingly, Americans are traveling to other countries to obtain medical care.  Each year, close to 150,000 Americans travel overseas for health care. This number is growing. Travel medicine provides major opportunities for American trained health care professionals and American health services organizations. For example, Ustawi helps owners of health organizations in emerging markets meet world-class standards of care that the American consumers seek.

A similar example is CHRISTUS Health that operates about 300 facilities in Southern United States and Mexico. Leaders at CHRISTUS follow the principle of creating a sustainable organization that call for taking care of social needs and the environment, while making profit.  In Mexico, CHRISTUS produces the triple bottom-line by putting the socioeconomic pyramid into operation, working the pyramid from bottom, up-wards. CHRISTUS’ main focus is at the bottom of the social economic pyramid with a focus on delivering high-quality, and low cost care to the poor and the underserved. CHRISTUS believes that the bottom up approach is attractive to price-sensitive individuals higher up in the social economic pyramid. As such, the real source of opportunities is not the wealthy few in developing world, or even the emerging middle-income consumers: it is the billions of aspiring poor who are joining the market economy for the first time.

What types of employment opportunities exists in your industry?

Globalization of health care services provides full range employment opportunities spanning the entire spectrum of level of education and experience. For students and new graduates, there are many internships and fellowship opportunities.

For example, Ustawi Research Institute runs 12-month internships and 2-year fellowships on health services research coupled with planning, design, implementation and evaluation of health systems in the emerging markets.  The internships and fellowships are online; require minimal travel, making full use of the information and communication technologies such as Skype, and gotomeeting, to work with people living in distant countries. Online students, and graduates from online programs are best prepared for this type of work, because they are comfortable working in the virtual environment.

Fully seasoned health care workers of all occupations can find many opportunities working as consultants, researchers, administrators or providers. Consulting opportunities in health care administration in globalization of health include:

1.     Health care quality care planning and implementation
2.     Accreditation by Joint Commission International
3.     Medical staff recruiting and credentialing
4.     Health information systems management
5.     Clinical laboratory implementation and management
6.     Nursing administration
7.     Risk management for international patients
8.     Health care financing
9.     Pharmaceutical provision
Research opportunities in globalization of health include:
1.     Qualitative health services research studies including phenomenology, grounded theory and ethnography
2.     Quantitative health services research including experimental, quasi-experimental and non-experimental research
Program planning, implementation and evaluations include:
1.     Community needs assessment
2.     Formative evaluations
3.     Process evaluations
4.     Effect evaluations
5.     Outcome evaluations
6.     Impact evaluations
7.     Cost evaluations
8.     Comprehensive evaluations
9.     Meta-evaluations
10.     Summative evaluations  


Any other details specific to your industry that you’d like to share?

Piece of advice: Keep your mind open and learn as much as you can in this rapidly globalizing planet. Keep your heart open so you do not miss the opportunities when they come knocking at your door. Keep your will open to seize those opportunities.

As always these are interviews with faculty members who work in this industry.  We encourage your feedback and questions! 

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