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What is Medical Tourism Category: Digital Technology by - August 2, 2013 | Views: 11046 | Likes: 0 | Comment: 0  

Advances in technology, ease of travel, rising healthcare cost in developed countries, and improvement in quality of healthcare in some developing countries has spurred growth in medical tourism. Pramod Goel, PlacidWay CEO and Founder shares his knowledge about the medical tourism industry and globalization of healthcare. 

Medical Tourism

What is medical tourism

Medical tourism is the option that many people needed for a long time. It is the first step to globalizing consumer-centric healthcare. Medical tourism is the health and wellness tourism industry. This is when people travel to a different country to receive the best healthcare. Consumers are usually seeking lower healthcare cost than is available in their home country; a better quality or more advanced treatment for a particular health or physical need; or searching for solutions that fit their needs, budgets, and lifestyle. It is a growing industry that has become very popular among individuals seeking treatment options for anything to everything, from chronic disease to cosmetic surgeries to wellness medical spas.

How large is the medical tourism market globally and which countries use medical tourism the most

The medical tourism market is in a continuous growth and it has been for more than two decades now. Over 60 countries have developed medical tourism offers, attracting patients from every corner of the world. Increasingly countries are focusing on attracting international patients by providing various incentives to boost the economy.

As the industry matures, the medical tourism industry is mimicking the growth of  the travel and hospitality industry. The medical travel industry first emerged in developed countries where people went to receive high quality, specialized medical services not available in their own countries. With the expansion of education and availability of technology globally, developing countries like India, Thailand, Ukraine, Turkey, Costa Rica, Mexico and Colombia can offer the same high quality medical services at lower costs. These emerging medical tourism destinations are preferred by medical travelers because of the lower prices and due to the access to similar technology and medical expertise as those found in developed countries.

What are the most common reasons why people travel abroad for healthcare

People around the world travel for various health reasons, whether it is cost, second opinion, alternative medicine, or waiting time. The perceived value of medical travel varies significantly from one region to another worldwide. For example, Americans travel due to cost savings or alternative medicine, Nigerians and Iraqis travel due to lack of quality healthcare system, while Canadians and British citizens seek alternative medicines, cosmetic procedures, or want to avoid waiting for care. 

What are the most common procedures and types of procedures that patients requests

The most common procedures vary from region to region as well. North Americans travel for cosmetic, dental, fertility, obesity, chronic diseases, while Middle Easterners and Africans travel to seek treatment for serious conditions such as cancer, orthopedics, cardiac care, and also cosmetic and fertility procedures. 

What are the top destinations in the world for medical tourism

Top destinations are favored by medical travelers based on regional preferences, travel time, and associated cost savings. North Americans travel to Mexico, Costa Rica, and other Latin American countries for medical procedures. Africans travel to Asian countries such as India and Thailand for their medical needs while Middle Easterners travel to Asia, Europe, and Europeans travel to Asia, Eastern Europe, among other destinations. 

What are the typical costs for the most popular procedures

Cost of procedures vary dramatically among various destinations. You can find: 

  • Knee Replacement Surgery from $5000 to $20000
  • Breast Augmentation from $2000 to $9000
  • Heart Surgery / CABG from $7000 to $20000
  • IVF Fertility Procedures from $3000 to $7000
  • Gastric Sleeve Obesity Surgery from $7000 to $15000

Do insurance companies pay for care abroad

Insurance companies have a wide range of policies towards medical travel that address emergency care abroad and expatriates living abroad. New insurance products are being developed and offered to include medical travel from cost containment as well as a reduction in insurance premiums perspective. The insurance industry is slowly analyzing and adopting medical travel in their portfolio of options for their customers.

What is the process for arranging care abroad

The process of arranging medical care abroad varies by consumers’ specific needs and desires.  In some cases, the consumers do all the research themselves, analyze various options available in the industry, and based on their defined criteria, they chose a medical provider and arrange their travel themselves.

Some consumers need help in understanding their options and they want to use the expertise of facilitators to evaluate and make decisions based on the choices offered by the facilitators — this is similar to the travel agency business model.

What are the risks of medical tourism and what should patients know before seeking care abroad

In any type of surgery, treatment or therapy there are risks involved, whether the specific procedure is performed in the home country or abroad. However, all the risks are greatly reduced when considering the massive regulation that exists in the medical industry. The Joint Commission International regulates medical tourism facilities and has high standards. Local and several other international regulatory bodies are providing more oversight when it comes to patient safety, treatment effectiveness, facility cleanliness and several other factors. Patients must choose carefully the centers that are certified or accredited by international or domestic healthcare regulatory agencies. This will provide a level of safety net and trust. Patients must do their research to avoid any problems. They should ask for doctors’ credentials, hospital accreditations, and data that establish the center’s quality of care.

About the Author

Pramod Goel is CEO and Founder of PlacidWay and author of "Evolution of Medical Tourism: From Cottage Industry to Corporate World." PlacidWay is a global medical tourism company with presence in over 30 countries worldwide, offering comprehensive solutions to over 200 medical providers globally, from India to Turkey to Mexico.
 

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