Here are excerpts from a recent interview with reporter Ben Keene and Smile Planners Matt Kelleher about medical and dental tourism.
How long have you been with Smile Planners and how would you describe the dental holiday niche in terms of its business maturity?
I started Smile Planners in 2008. Dental holidays are as mature a niche as other medical holidays. Many of the leading medical tourism hospitals also have in-house dental centers that have been offering dental as well as medical procedures.
Do you offer packages to other countries besides Thailand? What makes this country unique? Does it have more or less appeal than other destinations?
This year, Smile Planners began offering dental holidays in India. Thailand is unique in that it is one of the original medical tourism and dental tourism destinations, so hospitals and clinics have a wealth of experience within the industry, in addition, Thailand has a highly developed tourist infrastructure to accommodate health and wellness travelers.
Who are you appealing to and what’s the average cost for a dental holiday? How does this compare to costs for similar procedures in other countries?
Smile Planners is appealing to anyone how has been priced-out of receiving dental work locally. This includes the uninsured, the under-insured, the self employed or anyone looking for affordable dental care. For bigger procedures like full mouth reconstruction with dental implants and bridges, the cost savings can be 50%. I have talked with people who have been quoted over $45,000 at home for a procedure that will cost half that in Thailand. Even with flight and accommodation that is considerable savings.
Does Smile Planners specialize in anything in particular to attract customers?
Smile Planners can assist any dental traveler for dental veneers, crowns, bridges. And while we work with cosmetic dentists, we also work with implant dentists, whose focus is on complete smile makeovers and smile reconstruction with full mouth dental implants and bridges, this is often refered to as All on 4 Implants or All on 6 Implants. This is the decade of the baby boomer generation, a generation that is enjoying a much more active lifestyle then previous generations and many people are interested in the full smile reconstructions that Smile Planners facilitates.
Would you talk about the amount of repeat business you’ve receive?
People who have had a dental holiday in Thailand will often refer a friend to Smile Planners and sometimes friends or family will go on a dental holiday together.
If something doesn’t go as planned what sort of protection or recourse do they have?
Smile Planners mitigates the chance of complications by working with the best dentists and clinics. The treatments performed in Thailand or any country are performed under local health and consumer regulations. Smile Planners does offer supplemental medical tourism insurance for purchase. In addition, individual clinics can offer workmanship guarantees. For instance, Bangkok Smile Dental Group, who we work with, offers a Smile Guarantee, that they will they will honor at their clinics in Thailand.
How do you select the doctors/health care providers you decide to work with?
Smile Planners works with dentists that have leading international training, such as with American and European Universities and affiliations with organizations like the International Congress of Oral Implantologists. We also work with a JCI International accredited hospital and dental center in Bangkok, JCI is the international division of the organization that accredits US hospitals.