We have helped shape the health travel industry.
With more than a quarter century of service, including 33 years of field inspections, we’ve continually evolve. We periodically review and adjust our program to ensure a fair, complete assessment in line with client expectations, advances in technology, changes in urban and regional planning, public health standards and industry trends. Broad-based clinical and travel industry experience allows our highly trained, professional inspectors to incorporate our proprietary and subjective criteria into their reviews.
Use of our Approved Provider Logo
Many establishments proudly display their Mercury Health Travel Approved Provider status and Diamond Rating on their signage, marketing communications materials and websites. This is arranged by written permission and no fee is exchanged. By written agreement, a voluntary cease and desist is exchanged should either party withdraw from the program or the designation be revoked or suspended for cause.
Mercury Health Travel's Approved Provider Program
For more than 30 years, Mercury Health Travel's commitment to steady, long-term improvement in our services and health and wellness tourism coordination activities and process is a cornerstone of our business strategy. Maintaining customer satisfaction and enhancing our leadership value is a mutual goal of both Mercury Health Travel and its Approved Providers. To achieve this objective, we must continuously work together to improve the overall efficiency and productivity of our programming, processes, administration, quality, and support organizations.
Mercury Health Travel's supplier /vendor certification program is an important component of our total quality management system. It assures our clients that an Approved Provider's products and services are delivered under a controlled process that results in consistent conformance with our requirements. Our process supports the concept of quality at the source by doing it right the first time thereby substantially reducing or eliminating the need for final quality inspections by the supplier, by our internal quality process, or by our corporate medical travel program organizers. The primary objective of the inspection and supplier approval process is to assure consistent high quality as demonstrated by predictable conformance to our requirements. The basic premise is that we want to identify suppliers that have adequate process controls in place and they provide legitimate proof that their products are consistently fit for health and wellness tourism patients and meet 100% of our requirements.
Mercury Health Travel's professionally trained inspectors convey the voice of our clients. They conduct in-person property inspections as a service to clients, using guidelines weighted by member priorities and our proprietary health and wellness travel standards and criteria. Inspections are both announced and unannounced to ensure a typical medical traveler guest experience, and clients are encouraged to provide ongoing feedback and recommendations, submit photographs and recommend new candidates.
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About site inspections
Mercury has been conducting site inspections of hospitals, clinics, dialysis centers, ambulatory (same-day) surgery centers, hotels, restaurants, attractions, ground transfer services, arrival and departure coordinators, destination management companies, and others as part of its commitment to safer and more pleasurable health and wellness travel experiences. Mercury Health Travel's professional inspectors conduct both scheduled and unscheduled evaluations, so they encounter the same experience our clients do. At the appropriate time, inspectors identify themselves in order to gain full access to the property. When traveling on mystery shops, inspectors do not accept any perks or discounts not extended to all guests. Anonymity is maintained during overnight stays and visits to potential Five Diamond hotels. For hospitals and clinics, due to the nature of the reason for the visit and obvious security concerns, our arrangements are made at the executive level to authorize necessary access for inspections, but the rest of the staff is usually unaware of the reason for our visit. Our clinical inspectors are also encouraged to interact with patients to enquire about their experiences while confined as in inpatient.
Inspector training and competency
Our professional trained inspectors are provided comprehensive guidance for conducting evaluations specifically for health and wellness traveler matters. While a hotel may be a 5 star hotel for the average guest, it may be totally inappropriate for some medical and wellness travel guests with special needs. Inspectors are in an ideal position to observe health and wellness travel trends as they emerge. When they see service changes, colors, layouts, technology, and other elements across multiple segments or geographic areas, they watch for related trends that may prompt changes in our health and wellness Approved Provider program evaluation guidelines.
Our proprietary standards and criteria
We partner with the hospitality industry, the hospital associations, accrediting and certifying bodies, tourism boards, and others to gather input, discuss our standards and the objectives behind our ratings, and openly share in workshops around the world how our standards are applied. We also ask our clients for their input at the corporate and individual level what elements of their hospital stay, or hotel or dining experience are most important to them. We then rate the rating factors to reflect member expectations, but always in the context of clinical appropriateness.
Approved Providers are selected on merit
We are the one of the rare health and wellness travel administrators that accepts no payment in cash or in kind for the privilege of being listed. Selection is 100% merit-based.
We strongly urge prospective partners to take full advantage of our Approved Provider program and take full advantage of Mercury Health Travel inspectors during an on-site evaluation since our experts are exposed to a wide range of hospitals, clinics, dialysis centers, hotels and alternative accommodations, as well as restaurants, airports, and ground transfer services throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, Latin America, Mexico and the Caribbean, Australasia and Africa. Annually, we evaluate thousands of establishments and clinical facilities and individual practitioners throughout the globe.
Prospective providers wishing to join our network should be clear on one thing: First and foremost, every hospital, clinic, lodging and restaurant and all vehicles of approved providers must maintain acceptable levels of cleanliness, quality and comfort and professional liability insurance. Properties that fall below standards are deleted — never downgraded.
Our position on certifications and designations
Please don't spend money needlessly on certifications or accreditation for the purpose of influencing our decisions. After more than 30 years in the industry, we know which accreditations and certifications are bought and paid for in quickie workshops and fee-based site visits (we refer to them as "wallpaper" issuers) and which are earned and must be maintained.
If you claim an accreditation or certification on your application, rest assured your status and history with that accrediting and/or certifying body will be verified by primary source verification. The standards of that accreditation or certification will be reviewed prior to our inspector's arrival. You should expect to be spot checked on various standards and documentation and by tracer methodology.
Finally, we value integrity and transparency. If you represent that you are "being accredited" or "pending certification or "preparing for accreditation", or if we find mention of these phrases it in a review of any of your marketing and advertising collateral you will automatically be disqualified. Like pregnancy, you either are certified or accredited, or are not.
Providers other than Clinical and Hospitality Outlets
We welcome Expressions of Interest from Arrival and Departure Coordinators, DMCs, Car Hire and other Group Support Providers, Restaurants and Attractions and Activities Providers. We're very particular. Not every interested establishment is evaluated or rated — and not every Approved and Diamond Rated establishment keeps its Mercury Health Travel standing. Therefore, we invite you to send us an expression of interest. We'll note it in our files and if we are ever in the area for a client inspection, or other business, we'll be sure to contact you in advance to meet briefly and discuss options and opportunities. Unfortunately, we cannot make a special trip to inspect your services and operations independent of other reasons to be in the area, but we travel quite often. We appreciate your kind understanding and patience.
Mercury Health Travel's Approved Provider Types
Our standards sets cover the following provider types:
- Dialysis Centers
- Ambulatory Surgery Centers
- Academic Medical Centers
- Transplant Hospitals
- Air Ambulance
- Occupational Therapists
- Home Health Agencies
- Private Duty Nurse and Attendant Agencies
- Behavioral Health Rehabilitation Centers
- Physical Rehab Centers
- Thermal Waters Aquatic Therapy Centers
- Spas and Wellness Retreats
- Executive Checkup Programs
- Guest Houses
- Serviced Apartments
- Marketplace Apartment Rentals (i.e., AirBnB, VRBO, etc.)
- Destination Management Companies
- FIT Tour Operators
- Car Hire / Shuttle Transfers
Please note, we do not accept tie ups with marketing representatives of the above listed providers. Our business model requires that we deal directly and at the executive level. Thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.
The Opportunity We Offer to Approved Providers
Approved Provider status lists you in the network as having been Approved and inspected by us. Only then can we vouch for your hospital, clinic, hotel or other service to them. Some clients take us on our word and jump directly to Request for Proposal stage.
New clients often request that we accompany them on their site inspection and executive interviews. When we do this with them we are their advocate; not your marketing agency. Adding you to the list of Approved Providers assures that you will be considered by our client if the destination or your reputation appeals to them.
We only work with corporate health benefit plan sponsors operated by businesses and labor unions who are most likely self-insured; not individual consumers. The designated providers they select for their provider network or pilot program is their private decision. To set clear expectations, there is the risk that you could be Approved by us and not be selected by our clients for some reason. If we gather feedback we feel would be helpful to you, with their permission, we will always share that with you.
Cosmetic, Spa, and other Non-Covered Services
From time to time, we may, as a courtesy coordinate a case for one of their plan members but this is rare. In these rare instances, none of the costs associated with requested services are paid for by the plan.
For Clinical Providers
A Request for Proposal can be a single or a multi-staged process and is usually used when the project or requirement has been defined and the Approved Provider has been shortlisted by the client.
When you receive a specific request for a proposal based on our clients’ population health data and anticipated frequency and utilization of certain services, that’s when you should begin determining negotiated price offers for fully inclusive case rates, diagnostic services, telehealth and other services you can supply. Not before.
Tips for Providers:
- Bear in mind that our clients will search the Internet for your advertised medical tourism one-off prices and will expect that a volume driven discount will be offered to win their business. Just remember, “the Internet never forgets.”
- Also remember that you won’t be expected to pay any finder’s fee or referral commission so you don’t need to embed or pad the proposal to cover the added costs of the commission payments.
For Accommodation Providers
Many of our corporate clients may have already established rates and rate codes with your brand. As an Approved Provider they will still want to use their discount codes if they have them, because those nights accumulate to rate renewals. However, due to the nature with their employee’s and plan participants stay, your facility must be both appropriate for the guest’ medical requirements, not just a matter of price.
Approved Provider status for hotels, spas, guest houses, and alternate accommodations helps us to discuss with the client how we view the appropriateness of your facility based on the requirements of their plan participants’ needs and preferences. Ultimately the final decision to use your property or select another is theirs. However, being listed as an Approved Provider may influence their final selection.
In the medical tourism consumer world, some hotels have negotiated deals with hospitals and clinics. Again, we follow independent standards and their standards may not meet or exceed ours. More often than not, we discover that the tie ups with hospitals and clinics are often based on personal relationships, price negotiations and geographic convenience rather than appropriateness for specific cases.
For instance, a guest with mobility impairment due to orthopedic limitations is different than one visiting for cancer care that requires no plant matter or organic soils and garden features (neutropenic environment) in or near the sleeping room, etc.
Often the clients’ requirements are far more than a handicap accessible room. All wall coverings, floor coverings and decor is also evaluated as are floor surfaces, seating areas, room lighting, power outlets, guest Wi-Fi, food and beverage outlets, etc.
Tips for Accommodations Providers
- Our clients have indicated that they frown on and will avoid properties that charge for Wi-Fi, and Resort Fees for extended stays due to medical recuperation or wellness stays. You'll have a better chance of winning their business with special incentives if your hotel, guest house or spa is an appropriate short-listed choice.
- In-room refrigerators and coffee makers, in-room safes, and other amenities are a plus and make the extended medical stay so much more pleasant, especially for guests on a special diet or weak and or in pain after surgery or medical procedures or when on medication.
- Expect guests to travel with 4-5 tech devices. Have ample plug ins close to the bed.
- Have reclining chairs available for women who have had recent breast surgery. Many guests must sleep upright after neck, back, and other nerve procedures. Make it available even if you must rent it and charge the rental as a pass through.
- If the hotel grounds are spacious and spread out, ensure that the concierge knows where a motorized scooter can be rented and delivered on a credit card deposit.
- Have prepaid, rechargeable sim cards available for guests along with one or two loaner phones that are "unlocked".