The medical tourism is going through exciting phase where alongside of international activities, more intra-regional travels are taking places in this sector of the health market. The responses received clearly revealed that there is an overwhelming perception among the industry leaders that there is so much more that can be achieved within this sector. However, there are challenges, which require immediate attention of industry stakeholders.
An overwhelming majority of the respondents felt that there was great deal of potential for medical tourism that at present remains untapped, with the perceived major concern being one of complications following treatment. Confusion and a lack of information were also cited here as being factors and one particularly significant finding was that only 8% of respondents believed that there was a perception that health tourism offered no benefits at all.
The perceptions from the respondents were that participants who actively engage in medical tourism do so primarily because of an economic standpoint, with additional important factors being that they can access a treatment that may not be available in their home countries, or if available, there is an unacceptable delay involved before being able to receive it.
The most popular destinations were believed to be those in the Far East and Asia, with the U.S. coming in at number four – an unexpected finding that could mean that there are good opportunities for this country to create inbound medical tourism. Malaysia, Germany, Mexico, South Africa, Brazil and Costa Rica also made to list of top ten destinations. The quality of healthcare services at a destination is deemed to be of supreme importance.
It is clear from the replies that the respondents believe that the role of facilitators in medical tourism is significant; with 88% agreeing that they were ‘important/very important.’ It is the compiler’s overall conclusion (based on the survey findings) that the main key to increasing the uptake of primary medical tourist services is to successfully overcome the confusion, lack of accessible information and fear about healthcare services in other countries. Medical tourism facilitators are in a prime position to do this by utilizing their expertise in this area and harnessing their knowledge to media or public information programs to demystify aspects of the sector.