A new website aims to help expand the area’s economic vitality by combining two of Colorado Springs’ core industries — medical care and tourism.
“When working to increase visitor impact, we look at three factors: bringing more visitors, enticing them to stay longer and encouraging them to spend more,” said Amy Long, chief innovation officer for the Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, in an email. “With a new target market, we will bring additional overnight visitors to the region.”
The CVB partnered about a year ago with Venue Health & Analytics LLC and Penrose-St. Francis Health Services to create and launch the health care tourism website, ChampionshipCareColoradoSprings.org.
“Medical tourism travelers stay in a destination for an average of 14 days, while the typical leisure and business travelers stay here for only three days,” Long said.
The website was commissioned by the CVB and built by Mentus under the guidance of Venue Health & Analytics.
“We approached a variety of medical systems in Colorado Springs and all expressed an interest in being part of the website,” Long said. “The site launched with Penrose-St. Francis as the first facility to be featured. As we gain traction with the program, we look forward to adding additional facilities, physicians and lines of care.”
Venue’s goal is help attract potential patients, who live more than 150 miles away, said Bob Durham, president and CEO.
The company has participated in similar projects in Jacksonville, Fla., San Diego and nearby Aurora.
“We are now about six months into the San Diego project and we’re seeing plenty of consumer interest,” Durham said. “We are now in the process of bringing those consumers there for care. It typically takes between 90 to 180 days for the travel experience to get rolling.”
A categorized list of health care services, information and resources for consumers is located on the new medical tourism website.
“Using the systems developed by Venue Health & Analytics, we will target people who are using very specific key words in search engines that indicate they are seeking medical care for hip replacement, knee replacement or heart valve replacement,” Long said. “When these people conduct a search, the Championship Care website will come up high in the organic search results to encourage these people to consider having their procedure done in Colorado Springs.”
Chris Valentine, director of marketing and communications at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, said the hospital started by offering three of its top procedures.
“We picked the things we are really good at,” he said. “With the hip replacement, we have a new process called accelerator recovery where patients can actually have a hip replacement on an outpatient basis.”
That patient and their family ideally would not only spend money locally on health care, but also tourism.
“While dad is having his hip surgery, the wife and kids are touring Garden of the Gods, driving up Pikes Peak and staying at The Broadmoor,” Valentine said. “They can actually go do some tourist-type things, which means they are paying for food, rental cars and hotel in addition to their health care. All industries rise, which is why the CVB is the one leading this project.”
Local businesses will benefit from increased revenue in addition to the city, county and, in turn, residents, from the rise in taxes collected, Long said.
“The CVB is charged with bringing visitors to Colorado Springs,” she said. “In 2016, we welcomed 23 million people to the region who spent $2.3 billion. We focus on leisure family and outdoor adventure travel, arts and culture travel as well as meetings, group tours and weddings.”
Medical tourism is an emerging sector Long believes can bring significant economic development to the region.
“With our world-class health care systems and beautiful scenery, Colorado Springs is the perfect place to start a health and wellness journey,” she said. “The three best words to describe Colorado Springs are vibrant, rugged and exceptional. Top-quality medical care helps people get back to their active lifestyle to achieve their professional and personal goals.”
Gen. William Palmer founded Colorado Springs in the late 19th century and the city became known as Little London, a top vacation destination for East Coast and British travelers.
“Colorado Springs also became known as a place of healing for tuberculosis in the early 20th century,” Long said. “It was an important economic driver for the city. The medical tourism website fuses two components of our roots: medical care and tourism, using both to grow the region’s economic vitality.”