Medical Tourism is one of the biggest allied industry developed around healthcare service assistance and medical treatments solutions. Globally, the Medical Tourism Industry is more than the US $ 20 Billion and growing at a rate of CAGR 15 %. Majority flow of medical tourist is from Africa, the Arab peninsula and developed Western countries like U.S and countries from Europe, traveling to South Asia for their medical treatments.
The world has become the global community with the advent of globalization, now with the increased penetration of internet, digital education, smartphones are not just a device for conversation, but exploring the whole world and empowerment and economical internet data has given birth to medical tourism. People from different parts of the world opt for medical tourism for some or other reasons. Kofi Dako from Ghana, age 34, male, was suffering from Knee joint pain, but due to lack of healthcare facilities in Ghana and lack of specialized Orthopedics in his home country, he to decide for medical treatment abroad. Initially, he was a bit reluctant, “ I was worried how would the whole procedure go, have many questions in mind, like, which country to travel, hospitals and doctors to consult, queries related to medical treatments, post-treatment assistance, but with the assistance of medical tourism companies, all my queries were solved”. Similarly, Laura Harris aged 46, from England, resident of Bristol, went halfway around the world for her CABG surgery, a cardiology treatment. She was frustrated with the waiting period at NHS, National Health Service in the UK. Waiting period given to her was more than 40 weeks, also her health insurance would get lapse before that, for which she again has to renew it, increasing the financial burden.
Many international travelers from developed western countries prefer India, Thailand, and Vietnam for Cosmetic Surgery, the cost is very less, professionals are many times educated and trained in U.S or UK and success rate is high. According to the International Medical Travel Journal, the reasons for increasing medical tourism are: –
- Affordable cost.
- Standards of medical procedures are equivalent to the U.S and other developed countries.
- Presence of JCI Accredited Hospitals – Joint Commission International, a gold standard in Medical Tourism.
- Zero Waiting Time.
- Medical Tourism Companies.
Recently, a new trend in medical tourism gained traction, Diaspora Medical Tourism. Reason for growth of this are : –
- Availability of Time. Many people travel back to their home countries for something or other. This provides an opportunity for medical treatment, not have to plan specifically.
- Cost affordability.
- Known social norms and conditions.
- Easy understanding due to familiarity with the language and culture.
Medical Tourism companies have played an important role in developing the promotion and have become an important key between the people seeking treatment abroad and hospitals who provide such assistance. These companies have become the main channel for international patients seeking any information regarding their health and treatment plans. Medical Tourism companies assist from end to end in the whole medical tourism process, from providing second opinion to the patient in their home country, arranging for medical visa and travel, getting the groundwork done before arrival to host country for treatment, assisting through the hospitalization and other documentation, and arranging local travel if required.
Many countries are promoting medical tourism through relaxing Visa norms, inviting private players in healthcare to improve the level of services, reducing the taxes which directly benefits the medical tourism sector and promoting own country as a medical tourism destination on international platforms.
The benefits of medical tourism in a country are: –
- Foreign Revenue generation.
- Creating a positive image across the world.
- Allied employment opportunities. Like Taxi drivers, hotels, food industry.
- Supplement to Tours and Travels.
- Service-based industry.