The growth and potential of emerging medical tourism industry is tremendous given the growing healthcare cost and rising incidences of non-communicable lifestyle diseases. Over 75% of healthcare insurers expect healthcare costs to rise in the next three years post-Covid. Non-communicable diseases will continue to rise and account for 75% of deaths in 2030, up from 63% in 2013.
In several countries, especially developed nations, the cost of healthcare has been increasing on a continuous basis. Expenses made by people on healthcare is slowly becoming a cause of concern. Many people have to spend their lifetime savings in case they suffer from complex diseases. While some of the treatments are covered by insurances, various other elective procedures and surgeries do not come under insurance covers. In such cases, people are left helpless with no other option except taking up medical tourism. Medical tourism facilitator business and agencies proliferated.
In this medical tourism guide, you will read about:
A Guide to Understanding the growth and potential of Emerging Medical Tourism Industry by Dr Prem – Driving factors, Services, and future business prospects
How and why did medical tourism grow?
This is most-oft discussed topic in medical tourism guides and training classes. The field of medical tourism emerged as a boon at a time when many patients kept waiting for their treatments or paid much more than the deserved cost of those treatments. Medical tourism offered them cost-effective healthcare options in foreign countries.
As compared to developed countries, various developing nations provide effective and high-quality treatments at excellent medical facilities. Their medical facilities are equipped with all the latest technological equipment. These facilities are also affiliated with and accredited by some world-renowned institutions.
While the medical tourism industry is booming, many countries are making efforts to take advantage of this situation. Their healthcare service providers are collaborating with various transport and travel agencies, as well as medical tourism service companies. People can get in touch with such medical tourism agencies that take care of their complete medical journey and comforts during their stay within a particular country.
Systems improvement and governmental efforts have been turning certain developing countries into preferred medical tourism destinations. Some of these countries include Singapore, Thailand and India.
Slowly and increasingly, people have been opting for medical tourism in foreign nations where the cost of treatment is low and the delivery of treatment is faster. The governments of several countries have been increasing their healthcare budgets and investments so more medical tourists can be attracted.
They are also investing in organizing medical conferences and gaining accreditations for more of their healthcare facilities. A few of the countries have also been competing to become the most preferred, global medical tourism destination by providing superior elective procedures and medical treatments.
Main reasons behind the global growth of medical tourism
Medical tourism is a phenomenon that has raised many questions in our minds. It is a practical solution to problems such as availability and affordability of medical treatments. The developed nations offer excellent medical amenities to its citizens but those are very highly priced and most of the intricate or complex surgeries are not within the budget of the middle class or working class people.
Not only medical facilities but also other amenities like education are expensive abroad. So, if middle class parents want to get their kids to college, they have to save substantial amount of sum for that. Medical expenses can make them change their previous plans or compromise with their dreams.
Medical tourism offers an excellent alternative for patients by cutting down the expenses by up to 50 percent. The developing nations also have great medical facilities and use the most modern surgical equipment. Previously patients were scared to go out of their comfort zone for major surgeries or critical treatments but globalization has changed that a lot.
Today, people interact with people of other countries via social media platforms and they have a better perception regarding the outside world. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter has helped in breaking the cultural gap that reigned supreme in the previous decade.
Getting information has become much easier, all thanks to the Internet. People can learn all about the city they are going to or the hospital where they will be treated online. This has also helped in diminishing the inhibitions working against medical tourism and the fear of the unknown.
Medical tourism facilitators have improved their approach towards patients and their service quality is good which has helped people trust in them. In a rich country like Canada, people cannot get MRI or X-ray done instantaneously. The Canadian government sponsors the health system and everybody is treated in turn. So, they have to wait their turn for weeks.
Health insurance policies do not cover cosmetic surgeries and complicated surgeries or treatments. People get immediate medical attention when they travel to a developing nation of their choice and also they can get accommodation in good local hotels and do some sightseeing if they wish. Saving money and getting intensive care of good quality are the two vital reasons that have popularized medical tourism among people of the developed nations.
Medical tourism – Where tourism and treatment go hand in hand
Medical tourism is no more an unknown term.You are familiar with the concept of the complete new industry of health or medical tourism that combines the affordability of medical treatments with the joy of traveling. With the rising popularity of health tourism across the globe, knowing about this latest trend has become a must for each and every person. We have focused on a few facts in this article, which will help you learn about the medical tourism industry and how tourism and treatment go hand in hand there. Those into medical tourism business or are planning to be medical tourism facilitators can benefit from the following discussion.
About the Medical Tourism Industry
Before digging into the working process of the medical tourism industry, you should know what medical tourism actually is. It is basically a practice of traveling to a less developed country from a high developed one for taking the advantages of cheaper medical procedures, great care and world-class services. But the best thing about this industry is that it offers an excellent opportunity to explore the new places along with availing the medical facilities. That is why the concept of health tourism is getting popular substantially.
From the Perspective of ‘Treatment’
Developing countries like India, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Panama, Bulgaria, etc. have earned global fame as most excellent medical tourism destinations. All of these are known to offer first-rate medical treatments at significantly lower costs along with amazing infrastructure, highly efficient medical professionals, most advanced medical tools and equipment, and so on.
A variety of treatments or medical procedures can be performed at the hospitals or other medical facilities present in these nations. These include cosmetic surgeries, dental surgeries, neurosurgeries, cardiac surgeries, Lasik eye surgeries, and many more. In short, it is the best way to get ‘First World Treatment’ from ‘Third World Countries’.
From the Perspective of ‘Tourism’
All the countries mentioned above are also well-known for their scenic beauty. From the ‘Green City’ Singapore to the ’Bridge of the World’ Panama, you have a lot of options to enjoy the breathtaking natural views. Here comes the importance of medical tourism. When overseas patients come to these countries for the purpose of treatment, they also get an awesome opportunity to take pleasure in the majestic mountain ranges, deep blue ocean, serene sandy beaches or even historical monuments. There is no need to arrange separate tours. In addition, they can enjoy to the fullest by spending once only.
In a nutshell, medical tourism has opened up a complete new horizon for people around the world. Hence, it can be said that the future of the medical tourism industry and business is significantly bright.
Cost Effective Medical Treatment to Propel Medical Tourism Growth
The market intelligence reports concerning Global Medical Tourism Market Research and the expected movement in 2021 have been based on past trends and future consumers’ preferences. The in-depth survey brings out the pronounced path along which the growth of medical tourism sector is mapped out for years to come.
Factors that would facilitate or dampen the spirit of consumers travelling abroad for medical treatment have gained clarification. They have been identified from case to case basis figuring out their possible impact on healthcare services abroad which covers:
- Medical treatment.
- Cosmetic treatment.
- Wellness therapies.
Medical tourism businesses should factor in these features to serve their customers.
Why healthcare costs abroad are cheaper without compromising in quality
One of the main benefits of medical tourism business is the significant cost-savings inherent within the sector. This is due to the fact that the cost of healthcare at many of the medical tourism destinations within the developing world is much cheaper than other developed countries. Patients should remember here that cheaper cost of care does not reflect on a lower quality of medical services. Medical tourism facilitator companies should also guide patients about destinations that offer quality treatments.
In fact, many healthcare facilities at these medical tourism destinations offer the same or higher quality healthcare services that patients from developed countries are accustomed to. This is predominantly to the advances in accreditation and standardization. This high quality, yet cost-effective medical services should be considered as an additional value for money when opting for medical tourism.
There are several reasons as to why healthcare in developing countries (such as India and Thailand) are able to offer patients a much more reasonable price tag for medical services than destinations such as the US or France. Medical tourism facilitator companies prefer these destinations due to the affordable costs.
Listed below are some reasons why healthcare is cheaper is able to be cheaper in certain foreign destinations:
Lower Cost of Labor (Human Resources)
Lower cost of labor is one of the principal reasons for any commodity being priced cheaply in any sector, and medical tourism business is no exception. This is the case with the medical products and services priced at higher end in developed countries like US, UK, France or any other developed country across the globe.
The high cost of labor accounts for more than half of any hospital’s operating cost on average, which is, of course, high in the developed countries. However, the lower cost of labor enables medical tourist destinations across most of the developing countries to offer healthcare at a considerably lower price.
Lower real estate values and cheaper construction costs
Lower construction cost and lower real estate values are two of most important factors that illustrate why healthcare is cheap in the developing countries. Real estate forms one of the major investments for the healthcare sector and real estate values are quite lower in developing countries. Hospitals and health centers require large areas for installation of various machines, infrastructure and diagnostic facilities. With the increased cost of real estate, the healthcare costs will undoubtedly go higher and this happens everywhere – be it the developed countries or the developing ones. On the other hand, lower cost of real estate contributes greatly to keep the healthcare costs as low in the developing countries as possible.
Further, the medical facilities require big buildings and constructing these will not be cheap in developed countries. Here too, the high labor cost adds more to the overall cost of constructing buildings and infrastructure.
Lower Government Taxes
We all know that any product manufacturer or service provider has to pay tax to the government in order to sell the products and services. Therefore, the cost of a commodity that you buy for regular use more often or any service that you avail occasionally is subject to government taxes.
Cheaper medical supplies/equipments/medications
Keeping in mind medical tourism industry in particular, supply, equipment and services offered form a significant portion of the overall cost. Like many other things, these are also cheap in the developing countries. The cost effective manufacturing of medical equipments and medicines and easy availability of medical supplies at lower cost help reduce the overall treatment cost. This is particularly important in the case of long-term illnesses.
Lower cost of prescription drugs
In addition to medical supplies, equipment and medication, the prescription drugs are also usually cheaper at medical tourism destinations in developing parts of the world. Prescription drugs form an integral part of the total cost of the treatment. Governments in various medical tourism destination countries offer heavy subsidies on emergency as well as many other drugs, which simply mean that these destinations are able to offer medicines and treatments at a lower cost for the benefit of medical tourists. The high cost of medication in developed countries will inevitably raise the cost not only in the case of hospitalization but also in the case of ordinary treatments and medical consultations as well.
For example, take the case of India. It is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical exporters in the world exporting drugs in more than 180 countries. Specific drugs in the US and other countries are abnormally high priced while India is a country known for manufacturing low cost generic drugs. Travelers do not mind importing specific medications from other countries that has created an offshoot niche pharma tourism.
Price discrimination is one of the major reasons that contribute substantially in enabling developing countries to offer healthcare at a significantly lower cost. International medical suppliers tend to, and usually do, quote increased prices for countries with higher income as compared to the countries with lower income. Consequently, the same generic product is sold at a lower rate in developing countries when compared to Western countries. It is possible that the same products are priced differently depending on where you seek the treatment.
Lower Administrative & Documentation Expenses
Easy availability of resources at an economical rate in the developing parts of the world further helps reduce the administrative costs significantly, which are usually too high for the healthcare providers in the developed world. The administrative costs include government requirements, documentations, affiliation costs, licensing fees as well as administrative fees and these are far cheaper in developing countries.
Low cost of legal proceedings
The legal systems of many developed countries like the US come down very hard on health related cases and it is litigious many times. There are special laws to deal with crucial issues and rightly so because in the healthcare industry, the life of an individual is at stake. Malpractice laws are very stringent in many developed countries where doctors can be sued for any small medical error let alone life-endangering ones. The cost of seeking legal help if anything goes wrong during a treatment or surgery is high and cumbersome in healthcare sector.
Reports have it that as much as one third of hospital costs go toward fighting legal battles and settling various issues associated with malpractices and treatment errors. The overall expenses also include court costs and insurance. However, legal proceedings and settling health related cases are not that expensive in developing countries.
Medical expenses: The key factor
The survey provides additional features of the market where the major stakeholders of medical tourism function. Their game plans, stakes, product profiles, decisions and survival tricks have been explored in detail. The prime factor deciding the future of medical tourism, however, balance around the pivotal role of expenses that is very much felt while you take a medical trip.
Whether you recover from your ailments or not is a different matter altogether. Your expenses are very much real. They sometimes inflict more pain than the illness itself. Without proper planning and prior survey of situations, a medical disorder not only has the potential to rob you of a healthy life. It can ruin you financially. Consequently, a cost effective medical treatment is imperative. What you pay for recovering from illness is a crucial element that will shape the growth pattern of medical tourism in future.
Treatments opted by medical tourists
Medical tourism represents a temporary migration of consumers from their own countries to a foreign country in the quest of treating health disorders. According to expert medical tourism consultants, healthcare services sought by medical tourists include:
- Cardiac surgery
- Dental care.
- Cosmetic surgery and implants.
- Brain surgery and related neurological treatments
- Weight loss surgery
- Fertility treatments
- Stem cell therapies
- Routine health check-ups
- Wellness therapies and programs
The economy of countries encouraging medical tourism to try their medical facilities and clinical services is no doubt on the rise. They are experiencing a flourishing market in the domain of providing healthcare services.
The growing need for cost effective medical treatment
Keeping in view a prospective customer’s spending potential on medical services offered, it is critical for successful expansion of healthcare market to foreign patients. When the price offered by a foreign medical facility is way cheaper than what is being offered by the domestic hospitals, the customer preference automatically shifts towards the foreign hospital.
Costly medical treatments in developed countries like the US, UK, France, Italy, Germany and Australia is the primary cause leading to the patient’s movement to greener pastures. Just think of the staggering number of 50 million! It is the size of US population going without insurance coverage.
So why shouldn’t they opt for countries with cheaper medical treatment establishments? For many US citizens, there is no coverage of dental insurance. The only expensive remedy is to get their set of teeth treated that burns a big hole in their wallet and that’s painful!
Records reveal that back in 2012, 1.6 million Americans ventured abroad in search of cheaper and quality medical treatment that hardly involves any waiting time. Expense on medical treatments in developing countries is around 30 %-50%cheaper than in developed countries. Wouldn’t it be wiser to go for an option where the customer can save an appreciable amount even after incurring flight booking expenses, accommodation cost and local trip expenses abroad?
Cost effectiveness – Factors to be considered
Cost effective medical tourism that sets rolling the wheels of growth takes into account many factors besides involvement of money. They are chiefly:
- The adoption and operating knowledge of upgraded medical technology by the developing countries. The quality of treatment is at par or sometimes even better than expensive clinics of affluent nations.
- The resemblance of culture and geographical proximity are important driving factors as well. The US and Mexico are closely placed along borders. While treatment in the US is costly, it is way cheaper in Mexico. The flight expenses are too much either. As a result, every year there is a flood of US patients getting treated in Mexican hospitals.
As the global healthcare tourism market has long past its childhood days, for its booming expansion, it will need a close coordination between medical tourism facilitators, agencies, medical tourism consultants, service providers, government agencies and the insurance companies so that the users of this dynamic industry reap the harvest of their effort, time and money. This is the essence of cost-effective medical treatment that will prepare grounds for further growth of medical tourism.
Medical tourism helps developed countries make their citizens’ medical bills affordable
The boom in global medical tourism in the 21st century has several reasons no doubt but availing the best treatment involving least expense is the main driver where health care seekers from developed countries are unhesitatingly opting for cross border medical treatments often punched uniquely with a vacation package.
Unaffordable medical bills – The scenario in developed countries
Medical insurance is a must in a developed country like US, but a recent survey reveals that one out of 5 Americans are unable to afford the high medical bills. The objective of health care insurance is to shield the customers from medical expenses, but in reality the scene is just the opposite where exorbitant medical bills go beyond the insurance coverage.
Often, the medical bills are so high that the survey also points out that:
- 60% of the customers have to shell out a huge chunk from their savings
- Some percent of customers had to add extra work hours to earn more money for paying the bills
- A fraction has deferred their essential household purchase or holiday plans.
- Near to 40% customers’ credit card debts rose sharply adding pressure in financial commitments.
- Unexpected claims by the insurance providers add to woes in many cases
- Sometimes, out-of-the-coverage-care expenses are quite pinching when the customer is caught unaware that those care services do not fall under the coverage.
As a consequence:
- 60% of US medical insurance holders have postponed their dental treatments
- Nearly 40% are avoiding prescribed medical tests which might pose serious health threats
- A considerable number of health care seekers opted not to go for a prescription
These are the prime driving factors based on which medical tourism businesses can reap great profits.
Booming medical tourism in Asian countries – The brighter side of affordability
Considering the above factors, let us study what Asian health care sector has in store for medical tourists from developed countries in terms of quality and affordability.One thing is for sure that medical treatment costs in the developing nations like India, Honk Kong and Singapore is several times lower than those in developed nations but the quality of treatment even in case of critical ailments is at par with US, UK etc. if not high. Moreover, the availability of low cost manpower in these countries has enabled to restrict the entire medical treatment and support cost within a very much affordable limit.
For example, if hip replacement cost in US is 24,000$. Whereas in India, it would be about 4 times lesser. In Singapore and Thailand, cost for the similar treatment would be 15,000$ and 10,000$ respectively. Similarly, coronary angioplasty which will cost 41,000$ in US can be treated within 3500$ in India. Medical tourism marketing strategies strongly focus on this cost factor to attract patients from distant countries.
The cost further gets controlled with suitable medical insurances where the insurers willingly reimburse the abroad medical costs as it is much lower than the domestic rates. Many reputed clinics abroad have tie ups with the insurers to gain more advantage in the competition. Medical tourism insurance is available in many countries encouraging health care seekers to opt for cross-border medical services.
The tough competition among the top medical tourism destinations also helps to check the cost of treatments and services. Each and every country will not allow losing the potential abroad customers by raising the treatment cost.
A great chunk of medical tourists from developed nations appreciate that quality of services provided by nurses and the supporting staff till full recovery in abroad clinics is much superior than that available back home. In most of the cases, charges for these support services are included in the package and even if any additional charge is required, it is quite less. Abroad hospitals are now seriously considering the hospitality factor providing a superior relaxing ambience to help the patient recoup fast. Designed suites, luxury accommodations and the like are either equipped within the clinics or are arranged separately by the medical tourism facilitators.
Ease of travel
Flying for health is quite a common practice today. Air travel has become so extensive past few decades due to globalization along with a significant drop in air fares that a person’s medical tourism cost package comfortably fits the bill. Relaxed visa regulations in medical tourism with issuing of special medical visas by many countries popular in medical tourism have made travel hassle free giving the health care seeker the opportunity to avail the best treatment available.
Is Medical Tourism a boon for the healthcare industry?
The major reason behind many patients opting for medical tourism is its cost effectiveness. At some destinations, complex medical treatments and procedures would only cost them about one-tenth of the price within their home countries.
Countries like India, Thailand and Singapore offer high-quality treatments at amazingly low prices. Additionally, some developed countries put stricter regulations on certain types of surgeries and elective procedures. These procedures can easily be performed in developing countries.
Apart from the above factors, medical tourism can also be a means of fun and relaxation for some patients. Along with medical treatments, patients also go for recreational activities in foreign countries. They get a chance to enjoy the food, shopping and tourist sites at their place of visit. Thus, medical tourism gives people an opportunity to plan their healthcare and vacation schedules together. These and many more reasons are turning medical tourism into a boon for the healthcare industry. Further, there are several benefits of medical tourism for the healthcare industry in general.
With more and more people taking up medical tourism, countries have also been developing their infrastructure and culture. Some leading players in the medical tourism industry are gaining a lot of foreign capital through medical tourists. In addition, their healthcare services and employment opportunities are getting better with an increase in medical tourism.
A destination also gets to improve its environment and culture when more people start visiting it. Presently, various medical tourism businesses support people with all their treatment, lodging and travel requirements at different destinations. Thus, a patient does not need to take stress of making all kinds of arrangements on his/her own.
Before people opt for medical tourism, they should ensure to hire a good medical tourism facilitator. An efficient company gathers and provides all the necessary information to medical tourists regarding their complete medical journeys. Thus, the quality of the hired firm should be confirmed online before actually availing their services. A good medical trip not only benefits patients, but also the healthcare industry in general.
How big is the global medical tourism market?
As more and more patients seem to be in dire need of quality medical care, the hospitals in developed economies such as that of the United States are falling short of catering to this demand. Also, the expense of healthcare in these economies is extravagantly high, resulting in lack of enthusiasm amongst some of the natives in opting for these services.
The proliferation of medical tourism is often stated to be as a result of the rising cost of medical care in nations like United States and in the near future, more and more medical tourists are expected to visit the emerging medical tourism destinations.
So what does the future hold for this industry? The prospects look promising. As the countries like the UK, Canada and US are trying to consolidate their medical services, the average cost of medical care per patient is inevitably rising.
If a patient gets the same kind of facility at an overseas location, that too at a fraction of the cost; why will he not take it? The medical tourism industry is expected to progress at a rate of 9.5 percent annually, which is a superb achievement if it does progress at that rate. So why do people go for these medical tourism services apart from cost reduction factor?
Virtually no waiting time
As patients throng the hospitals in developed economies, they do not have a need of catering specially to patients. In addition to this, waiting times are excruciatingly longer for the patients resulting in discomfort. Travel to medical tourist spots, be it Costa Rica or India; can significantly give the same quality of service at a substantially lower cost and without having to wait for a longer duration.
Quality of service
Many hospitals in these medical tourism destinations have healthcare services which match and rival those present in developed economies. Be it the presence of high-quality staff, good and world-class facilities; they seem to have it all that is present in developed economies’ hospitals.
Thus, medical tourism is slowly but steadily emerging as an option for tourists across the world as a convenient and reliable means of seeking treatment at a very affordable rate. The industry looks set to grow at a steady rate in the near future.
Reasons behind the worldwide growth of medical tourism
It is surprising how so many people understand the concept of medical tourism. The popularity of medical tourism is the by-product of increasing medical treatment costs. It has opened new channels and bridged the gaps between different cultures. Medical tourism industry is supposed to expand and grow in the coming years.
This industry is being valued and regarded as one of the most profitable industries to venture into by the tourism companies. The basic concept of medical tourism involves traveling to a developing nation for low-cost treatments. It is true that the developed nations have great medical infrastructure but the sky-high bills can be seriously daunting for a middle-class family. This has created great opportunities for medical tourism businesses of different capacities
We all have to save for the future and cannot spend every penny we have on intricate treatments. There are many people in the US who do not have good quality medical insurance or health policies. When a sudden health disability occurs, they have to wait for a long period before they can get the ailment treated and cured. This can be emotionally exhausting and physically painful. Medical tourism brings respite from severe health concerns and at least shows a light at the end of the tunnel.
Medical tourism has many benefits but the foremost among them is the monetary benefit. Medical tourism is the most cost-efficient option for middle class people of the developed countries. The cost of a surgery is reduced by 50 to 60 percent at least when the patient travels from the US to developing countries like Thailand, India, or the Latin American countries.
Medical tourism industry has inspired some of the most renowned nursing homes around the world to employ a special manager for attending to the needs of the foreign patients thus creating new avenues for medical tourism businesses. For example, bone marrow transplantation can cost $200,000 in the US but the same treatment will only take around $25,000 in a reputed Indian nursing home.
The misconceptions and doubts regarding medical tourism are being dispelled fast. People now have more access to information instantaneously due to technological improvement. Patients can directly contact different nursing homes in the developing nations and ask for convenient packages for themselves.
Another reason for the worldwide popularity of medical tourism is the fact that many people nowadays want to get cosmetic surgeries like butt enhancement or breast augmentation done at low cost. At the same time, people would like to see a new place and visit exotic tourist spots. The great quality of services and well-qualified doctors, educated at western medical schools make medical tourism more reliable. The trust that medical tourism has gained makes it more lucrative. The tourism industry and hospitals have joined hands to make the best medical services readily available for the foreigner patients.
Medical tourism is a blessing for the destination and the travelers
Medical tourism has emerged as one of the most promising global industries by successfully combining tourism with medical care facilities. Patients from developed countries are traveling to the developing nations for getting low-cost healthcare privileges. Developed countries are not being able to provide timely medical care at reasonable prices.
Regular price hike of medical care has turned people against their national health care system. They are going online to find out best medical tourism destinations where they can receive high quality treatments at half the cost. At the same time, the economy of host countries also gets a major boost from the money spent by foreign patients.
It is a win-win situation
Not all Third World countries are capable of offering high quality medical care facilities at low price rates. However, many of them are trying to compete with the already established leaders of this industry. In their attempt to make a name as medical tourism destination these countries are striving harder to improve the healthcare systems.
Some of the most popular medical tourism destination countries are India, Thailand, Brazil, Singapore, Mexico and Malaysia. Every year millions of patients travel from United States of America, Canada, UK and other developed countries to these medical tourism destinations. Medical tourism is boosting the economy of these countries. The medical tourism industry of India has already surpassed the billion-dollar mark.
By traveling to low cost medical tourism destinations, the medical tourists are saving huge sums of money. They are not only receiving advanced healthcare facilities right on time but also enjoying vacation in a foreign locale. Medical tourists can save up to 70% of their surgical cost if they choose India or Thailand as their medical tourism destination. Medical tourism is a win-win situation for the travelers and the medical tourism facilitators.
Patients should be picky and cautious
Despite the plethora of facilities offered by medical tourism facilitators, patients should be very cautious while making a decision. A patient’s life can depend on choosing the right medical tourism destination and the best hospitals. Anyone who is interested in going off shore for medical treatments should check the right doctors, surgeons, hospitals and medical tourism facilitators thoroughly.
One should read reviews and go through patient feedbacks. Talking to previous patients who have taken the services of a particular medical tourism facilitator will also help. Patients should also demand a clear estimate of all the expenses so that the hospitals cannot increase the final billing amount.
Hosting countries are counting profits
Medical tourism has made it easier for patients of developed countries to get affordable treatments and also opened a new channel of income for the hosting countries. The tourism sector of developing countries are also growing and prospering along with the expansion of medical tourism industry. Both local and national economies are getting a boost from the money foreigners are spending.
For the foreigners the money they spend for medical tourism is less than what they have to spend on same treatments in their own country. For the developing nations the same amounts are precious. For catering to the foreign patients developing countries are trying improve their infrastructure and medical care systems.
They need to establish a positive and reputable image for attracting more patients. As a result these countries are developing from different aspects and their citizens are also getting the benefit of advanced medical technologies.Medical tourism does not only help the patients of developed nations but also the hosting countries. The economies of hosting countries are getting a boost from this industry.
Growth prospects for medical tourism in the stagnating industry
Many medical tourism start-ups fail to thrive regardless of the destination they are set up. It is in human nature to blame external forces for their failure. Similarly, it is often the weakness of the market, stated as the reason for failure of medical tourism start-ups. Medical tourism industry demands executives who have the potentials to look beyond, ignore these excuses, and focus on achieving profitability and success.
Stop hoping on hope
One has to understand that medical tourism industry is a low growth industry in comparison to the other industries and there exists many new entrants on the belief of being hopeful. Unfortunately, hope does not bring success in this industry. You must have often heard the quote that winners don’t do different things they do things differently. In order to grow in the medical tourism industry you have to incorporate this as your major idea in your medical tourism business strategy.
Medical tourism projects that tend to do well in a stagnant industry grow by undertaking the market share of their competitors, in a profitable manner and often without reducing the prices. Profitable medical tourism business projects often create their very own growth cycle. This growth cycle is completely independent of the industry cycle.
Equilibrium and disequilibrium positions
Equilibrium position occurs when a group of medical service providers in variant destinations, with similar qualities and services compete within a market and earns similar returns, amass market share. Under equilibrium, there remains a constant battle for the smallest of market share as well.
Disequilibrium position has those elements that make it rather more interesting. Here companies responsible for creating such disequilibrium situations do not follow the templates. They always seek to find creative ways for leveraging particular type of competitive advantage to shift the market scenarios in their favor and work towards keeping it the similar way. They make others envious as they achieve a definite edge over others by performing well in stagnant market industry set up.
Building disequilibrium situations in healthcare tourism
As an executive in the medical tourism industry, if you wish to create disequilibrium situation with the aim to cater to a larger market share, here is what you need to do:
- Make relevant changes in the supply side of the market. The changes should be such that it pushes the market into one direction, which generally favors the client, providing noticeable advantages in the quality, safety, services, functionality, and selection etc
- Make relevant changes in the demand side of the market. Try to capture the demand that did not exist earlier or was rather inaccessible. Demand side changes come with technological shifts for proper management of business workflow.
The changes in the demand side of the markets can be made by enforcing new regulations and medical tourism laws regarding the general framework. The projects, who abide by these new regulations, will be in a position to meet the demand of the customers and increase their profits. This helps them earn greater revenue especially by adding gigantic market advantage.
Identify your potential
Before you think of creating a disequilibrium position in the market, make sure you have everything that it needs to create a disequilibrium position. Identify your potentials and analyze whether you posses the following properties.
- Analyze what makes you unique – customers value uniqueness, aim to enhance customer value
- Edge over your competitors – competitive advantage is the biggest benefit
- Strategic plan to address any forthcoming technological or regulatory shits that has the capability to transform your market
The stunning and unlikely factors that work in favor of overseas Medical Tourism
It would generally be believed that the developed world offers much more in the area of medical treatment. While this belief is not false, it is not essentially true either. The developing world, especially countries with fledgling medical tourism markets, are quite the leaders in accepting and encouraging new technologies. These, and several other factors provide logical benefits to medical tourism destinations. Let’s take a better look at such factors:
Acceptability of services at other destinations
While a few governments in western developed nations do not accept certain medicinal therapies or complicated surgeries, some developing countries offering medical tourism consider the requirements of patients as their first preference and allow them to receive those treatments with utmost care.
Availing the medical services at the foreign destinations that are not otherwise legally accepted in their home countries wasn’t possible for patients before the concept of medical tourism came into being. Many countries have put regulations on certain non-emergency procedures as well as complex surgeries. Some of them have even banned those treatments due to several reasons.
However, when it comes to other destinations like developing nations, people can take advantage of the lenient laws and regulations and get services that they wish. Besides, they do have a selection of countries to choose from, so even if the preferred treatment is not available in some countries, it may be available in another country.
Facts and insights related to Medical Tourism, highlighting services in Mexico
Mexico, one of the most popular medical tourism destinations in the world, has gained much popularity for its stem-cell therapy. The U.S. Government does not accept the unique intervention strategy that is useful in treating a range of injuries and diseases.
Similarly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) kept Hip Resurfacing, which is a surgical substitute of Total Hip Replacement or THR, under regulation for a long time. The procedure is recognized as one of the most helpful solutions for patients suffering from non-inflammatory degenerative joint diseases.
Furthermore, it has an excellent success rate at more than a few well-known medical tourism destinations. None of these was enough to receive approval for the surgery from the American Government. However, the issue has been resolved now and the U.S. Government finally allowed the surgery in the year 2006.
The situation is quite clear from these two facts. You can say that if a person wants to undergo any of those elective surgeries that are either not legal or available at his or her home country, going across the border can be a better option. In short, medical tourism works as the great savior for such patients.
Availability and better quality of healthcare services
There is a myth that patients need to compromise with the quality to get affordable treatments and care during medical vacations. Countries offering medical tourism always focus on the superiority of their services and try to maintain excellence in order to ensure the highest quality of care to lure a greater number of international patients. Providing quality care in all medical and non-medical requirements is the basis of any medical tourism business.
The majority of hospitals, nursing homes and other medical facilities present in developing countries have standard accreditations from Joint Commission International (JCI) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Both of these global accrediting bodies have strict prerequisites that every healthcare organization needs to fulfill prior to getting the accreditation.
Some of them are also affiliated to various well-known American establishments like the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the Harvard Medical School, etc. and work in collaboration with those. The objective of such associations is to provide the best possible healthcare services to foreign patients.
Quite a few other factors also contribute to the amazing quality of services offered by medical tourism. Governments of various developing nations are investing lots of money in the healthcare sector for improving their infrastructure as well as giving a significant boost to the entire medical tourism industry. As a result, well-equipped medical facilities and trustworthy medical tourism businesses are coming up with each passing day, which are ultimately enhancing the quality of services and making healthcare accessible for all.
Developing countries boast of having numerous qualified and talented doctors as well as medical consultants. They are skilled, efficient and have many years of working experience in reputed healthcare organizations in the USA or UK. The nurses and other hospital staff are also quite proficient and helpful. Therefore, global patients can always get a more customized as well as personalized service for themselves during medical vacations.
The application of a range of cutting-edge medical tools and equipment has also turned these medical facilities into the best ones in the entire world in terms of the standard and quality of services.
Patients often look for privacy in the medical facilities available in their home countries but usually fail to find it. Though the need for secrecy or confidentiality can vary from person to person, it plays an important role in the case of certain surgeries or medical procedures. Medical tourism facilitators play a vital role in ensuring privacy and confidentiality of foreign medical tourists.
Many people want to keep their healing procedures as furtive as possible, especially when it comes to various cosmetic surgeries. They do not even mind flying across the border in order to maintain their confidentiality. Medical tourism is bliss for these people as it provides a perfect environment to keep them away from prying eyes.
Cosmetic surgeries or procedures are medical specialties that many people opt for these days. These are non-emergency or elective surgeries, which patients intend to enhance their appearance or remove aging signs from their face or body. People who undergo these beauty treatments often try to stay away from their surroundings during their treatments in order to avoid inquisitive eyes and uncomfortable questions. Medical tourism businesses, facilitators, and agencies should pay serious attention to these to give patients a more fulfilling and rewarding experience.
There is a great variety of cosmetic surgeries, such as rhinoplasty, liposuction, breast augmentation, facelift, etc. offered by various medical tourism destinations. Those who want to undergo any of these can opt for a medical tour and obtain the best possible treatments at a reasonable price, without having to worry about prying eyes.
Medical professionals working in the healthcare organizations of different medical tourism destinations ensure the utmost privacy of their clients by making use of all those standards of confidentiality that are maintained in American hospitals.
Issues related to Medical Tourism Growth
- Accessing reliable information
- Too many newcomers jumping on medical tourism bandwagon not experienced or understanding of the industry
- Lack of pre and post-operative care arrangements
- Complicated intra country laws and legal procedures
- Lack of support system by government bodies
- Patients not being properly informed about pros and cons
- language difficulties and other communication problems
- Cross cultural misunderstandings
- Challenge for hospitals and providers in maintaining internationally accepted standards
- Lack of willingness to travel abroad for medical treatment
- Other reasons