September 2006
Health and the Filipino

Your health at your fingertips

IT SOUNDS like something out of the brain of’s Jeff Bezos, but it’s as local as ampalaya tablets: an online shopping cart for such things as a heart transplant coupled with a yoga retreat.

The first searchable online directory of medical doctors and dentists in the Philippines, Rx Pinoy features the cart in a special section that makes “shopping” for medical services much easier.

This new feature is part of efforts under the country’s medical tourism program to “cluster” services offered by the private sector.

To start shopping, all one has to do is register online. The shopper’s personalized page will then lead to the Medical Tourism Showroom, an automated travel planner where one can order a “package” that could be a mix of any of the four services: medical services; spa retreats; accommodation; concierge (services of an interpreter or caregiver); tourist destinations; and insurance packages.

The medical-services section offers two choices: shop by provider (i.e. hospital) or shop by specialty (type of service).

Only four medical-tourism hospitals are currently on the menu: St. Luke’s Medical Center, Makati Medical Center, Metropolitan Medical Center, and World Citi Medical Center. A click on a hospital takes you to either to the health facility’s website or to an information page that includes a list of medical and surgical packages.

Metropolitan Medical Center, for example, offers a kidney transplant package for $18,941.75. The transplant is only $14,068, but the package covers operating room fees, medicines, hospital tests for screening the patient and the donor, a week’s stay in a private room, and airport transfers. (In the United States, a kidney transplant operation could cost $150,000.)

One could also opt to shop by specialty and choose packages from any of the 10 “specialty services,” among them cosmetic and plastic surgery, cardiac procedure, executive check-up, ophthalmology, and even hair transplant service. There is also a “Specials” section devoted to slimming packages, one of which includes liposuction, several sessions of lipodissolve, other free medical procedures, a spa treatment, and a half-day tour around Manila — all for $3,685.96.

But should these packages not suit the shopper, the “Match Me” option will allow Rx Pinoy to match her needs with her budget.

Once all the shopper’s choices are in the shopping cart, submitting the “order” is as easy as clicking on the checkout button. (Changing one’s mind is allowed; simply unclick the order.)

One then receives an emailed confirmation of the order. Rx Pinoy says it first has to review orders and check if the patient is suitable for the packages selected. A doctor will also offer suggestions. Once the type of treatment has been finalized, an advance payment to Rx Pinoy is required; the balance will be paid once the patient arrives in the Philippines.

Rx Pinoy will coordinate airport pick-ups, hotel bookings, and meetings with the patient’s doctors. After the treatment, and with the doctor’s permission, the patient can then enjoy a stay in a beach resort or a visit to some of the country’s cultural or heritage sites.

(Note: The official site for the Philippine Medical Tourism Program is It was created to serve as a central clearinghouse of information for potential foreign patients. But the site is still incomplete, and at the moment leads the user to Rx Pinoy.)