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New website markets Colorado Springs as a health destination

May 10, 2018 Updated: May 10, 2018 at 10:52 am
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Four men sunbathe on the terrace of National Methodist Sanatorium in Colorado Springs in this 1927 photograph. The Springs was nicknamed "The City of Sunshine" as boosters touted it early on as a premier health destination. People with tuberculosis were drawn to the area to recover. Courtesy of Pikes Peak Library District, Mayall Photograph Collection, 102-188.

In its early days, Colorado Springs was touted as a premier health destination. One Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce marketing effort touted Colorado's clean air and "life-giving germ-destroying sunshine," and the Springs was nicknamed "The City of Sunshine."

The Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau is returning to those roots with a new, medical tourism website, ChampionshipCareColoradoSprings.org, launched in partnership with Penrose-St. Francis Health Services and Venue Health & Analytics. Colorado-based Venue Health, which provides "destination health and predictive analytic services," is managing the site's SEO marketing.

Medical tourism is more associated with international travel, but domestic medical tourism is growing as well, said Venue Health CEO Bob Durham. "It's really started to take hold in the last five years," he said.

San Diego and Jacksonville, Fla., are among communities vying for medical tourism dollars. While price is typically the driving factor for people in the U.S. seeking health care in other countries, the domestic side of medical tourism is more focused on quality and outcomes, Durham said.

Venue Health's goal, he said, is to reach people who are 150 miles or greater in distance from a destination "to make them aware of better outcomes in services that are important to them, like respiratory care, cardiac care." Those "better outcomes" are determined by rankings from U.S. News & World Report, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Joint Commission, Healthgrades and others, Durham said. Venue Health's hypertargeted approach also involves identifying areas in the country where people have a higher incidence and higher risk of the conditions related to those outcomes.

The Springs site highlights three areas - heart valve, knee and hip replacement - and guides visitors to Penrose-St. Francis facilities and specialists. But it's not an exclusive agreement, said Convention and Visitors Bureau Chief Innovation Officer Amy Long. Other health care entities could become part of the site and UCHealth-Memorial Health System is mentioned on one page.

"The first thing we had to figure out, we invited all the different hospitals and health care facilities and had great conversations with them all," Long said. "For various reasons, some were not ready to join in at the launch, but Penrose-St. Francis was."

While quality care drives the domestic medical traveler, it's also about "being able to recuperate in a beautiful place," Long said. The website touts the Springs' "gorgeous scenery and year-round, mild climate."

While someone with a new hip or knee won't be tackling the Manitou Incline - or getting around much at all, Long acknowledged - the idea is they, or accompanying family members, could be exposed enough to the area that "they could fall in love with it and come back at a later time where they really can enjoy what we have to offer."

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