The medical tourism industry, as of 2014, is valued roughly at USD 38.5 – 55 billion, according to Patients Beyond Borders.The market has been growing steadily at about 15-20% per year, with higher rates in the developing countries of the North, South-east and South Asia.
According to an MTA survey conducted in 2013:
An average of 1 million American patients fly abroad for medical care every year, and this value has been steadily increasing in the past year.
Most of the patients opting to fly abroad for treatment are women, largely between ages 45 to 64. As many as 50% of the patients do not have health insurance.
A staggering 48% of the respondents deemed themselves interested in choosing medical tourism again, at some point in the future.
Factors Responsible For Success Of Medical Tourism
More than 1 million patients undergo procedures like stem cell treatment across the world, every year.
Over the years now, there has been adevelopment of increasingly complex, innovative and effective technologies. This has significantly increased the success rates of surgeries and procedures performed abroad. New groundbreaking treatments have been developed for conditions hitherto deemed untreatable.
Newer advancements, such as stem cell treatment, CyberKnife, Carbon Ion Radiotherapy among others are responsible for critical breakthroughs for a large number of medical cases.
The presence of arobust network established by medical tourism agencies, in association with the majority of the well-known hospitals in various countries, makes it immensely easier for patients and doctors to interact and recommend cases.
Affiliations of major hospitals with renowned institutions like Johns Hopkins and Cleveland Clinic, ensures that the facilities and the quality of treatment provided are up to the mark. In addition, it warrants that the medical professional employed in these hospitals are top-notch. This confederation also promotes research and development in various fields of surgery and pharmaceuticals.
The increased availability of a medical visa – a facility adopted by many countries, which allows patients to obtain a visa, for a fixed period, albeit hassle free, to visit the country in question for the required procedure.
The flaws in the healthcare system in the USA, wherein, patients have to pay extremely high prices for the simplest of surgeries. Here, unless the patient has insurance (which does not cover cosmetic surgery); treatment in domestic circles is a very expensive issue.
With prices of treatment abroad going down to as low as 20-30% (Brazil), 30-40% (Thailand) or 35-40% (South Korea) of the price for the same surgery in USA, it’s apparent why many patients choose to go abroad for treatment.
Now, with an ever increasing trend for medical tourism, it’d be fairly easy for doubters to consider its popularity to plateau. But contrary to this, medical tourism still looks to be a firm option for millions of patients across the world.
Future Prospects Of Medical Tourism
The most popular destinations for medical tourism are developing countries like India and Thailand, among others. A steady Inflow of patients every year, serves as very good revenue market for the country’s economy. Thus, most governments employ a lot of their means to improve the facilities in major hospitals and pump in money for R&D. All this works out perfectly for the patient who only has better options to choose from.
Tourism and treatment go hand in hand and the average human is always eager to experience the unexperienced. As long as patients are interested in visiting exotic, picturesque and historical destinations while out for treatment, medical tourism in destinations like Brazil, Costa Rica, Turkey, etc. will continue to thrive.
Brazil’s popular tourist attractions like the sheer number of beaches, carnivals and the glorious Amazon rainforests play a huge role in attracting patients, as they are a perfect way to unwind during the stressful postoperative period or otherwise.
More and more patients are turning towards alternative medicine. Be it the Japanese Reiki, the Indian Ayurveda or the wellness centers of Jordan, tourists have always been attracted to traditional treatments, native to the destination country.
Spas, hot springs and health centers have always attracted a large fraction of the visiting tourists and given that there isn’t a way to simulate such conditions authentically in domestic hospitals, it is safe to assume that traditional treatment will continue to attract patients to medical destinations.
More and more countries are fast developing their medical arsenal, to make way for high-end world class facilities and personnel, while offering services at a fraction of the price of the same treatment in developed countries like USA. Hence, it’d be safe to assume that medical tourism will dominate the market for years to come.