Mayor to announce formation of medical tourism task force

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COLUMBIA – Mayor Brian Treece will announce the formation of a new task force Wednesday, one that will focus on medical tourism in Columbia.

Medical tourism is when people travel outside of their place of residence for the purpose of receiving medical treatment.

The task force is expected to have nine members, and will evaluate Columbia as a destination for health care services. It will also welcome out-of-town patients and help support them throughout their visit.

The Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau is working with the mayor to form this task force.

CVB Marketing and Communications Manager Megan McConachie said the city is a good location for luring potential patients.

“Columbia obviously has a really robust health care community, so that makes us the perfect place for medical tourism,” McConachie said. “We have a lot of resources that we can offer to people who are willing to travel or who need to travel to receive the proper medical care.”

McConachie said a majority of people coming to Columbia for medical tourism are coming from around the state, but that there has been some medical tourism coming in from out of state.

“At this point, you know, it’s pretty regional, but we do have certain specialties where people will come from across the country to get the care that they need,” McConachie said.

According to McConachie, instead of going to St. Louis or Kansas City, people from out of state can choose Columbia for a number of reasons, including referrals or doctors’ specialties.

She said the task force will help expand the topic community-wide.

“We’ve always had people coming to Columbia to get medical care, but I think this is to try to work together, community wide, to make it a more cohesive experience for anyone who’s coming to town for those reasons,” said McConachie.

McConachie did not know how much funding the task force would need, but noted it would depend on the members and what they set as their goals.