Medical tourism refers to people living in one country travelling to another country so as to acquire a particular medical treatment. This tourism is mostly motivated due to the unavailability, cost difference, quality difference or illegal practices of a particular treatment in one’s own country.. The conventional medical tourism involved people living in developing countries travelling to developed countries so as to get high end treatments that were usually not available in their own country. However, with the recently changing scenario of medical tourism, people from certain developed countries are also travelling to developing countries mainly due to the affordability of these treatments in the developing countries as compared to that of the developed ones. Certain treatments are also not legally practiced in few countries leading to the migration of population interested in the treatment to travel to some other places so as to receive the treatment of medical procedure. Domestic medical tourism involves people travelling between different cities of the same country. This mainly involves surgical processes or similar treatments related to cosmetology or similar streams. Although, people are also indulged into dental and fertility tourism these days. Apart from the common treatments, the medical tourism services is available in all the fields of healthcare including psychiatry, convalescent care, burial services, and alternative medicines.
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Medical tourism as one of the fastest growing market of the healthcare sector
The Nerd Wallet Health analyzed the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. census and Federal Court System in 2013 and came up with the facts suggesting that around 56 million Americans under the age of 65 years have trouble paying their medical bills. Additionally, over 25 million adults ranging from 19-64 years do not take their prescribed drugs, take less medicine than suggested or are involved in dose skipping practices for cost saving purposes. As per the Health-Tourism fact sheet and statistics, the medical tourism has generated a massive revenues between US$ 60,000 to US$ 70,000 in 2015 and expected to show almost double growth in a couple of years. These suggest the fast growing and expansion of the global medical tourism market giving an idea to the upcoming players of the market.
The global medical tourism market is segmented on the basis of the treatment type and geography.
On the basis of treatment type, the global medical tourism market is segmented as
- Cardiovascular Treatment
- Orthopedic Treatment
- Neurological Treatment
- Cancer Treatment
- Fertility Treatment
- Other General Treatments
India considered to be the hotspot and most preferred destination for medical tourists across the globe
Based on the regional segmentation, the global medical tourism market is segmented into North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa. Asia Pacific is currently attracting the major flow of patients from the U.S. and Europe by offering quality services at affordable prices. According to a report by ZAWYA, Dubai is reported to have raised US$ 381 million from medical tourism, accounting up to 326,649 tourists visiting the Emirates in 2016. According to the VOA News, Turkey is the major destination for hair transplantation with over 152,000 visits in 2016 delivering safe, cheap and high-quality services. Moreover, India is known to be the hot spot for medical tourism attributing to the presence of highly skilled doctors and improved medical infrastructure offering affordable cardiovascular, orthopedic, and cancer treatments at about 20%-30% less as compared to standard U.S. costs. Thus Asian countries such as India, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Turkey offer major destinations for medical tourism to the people around the world.
Affordability without quality compromise resulting in influx of huge population in various countries fueling the global medical tourism market
The lack of medical insurance is the primary reason driving the growth of global medical tourism market. With the broadening of internet facilities in the rural areas, it has been possible to help the patients to identify different destinations providing specialized treatments and low prices with the help of online advertisements. The respective governments are also assistive and supportive towards the medical tourism in the country by offering several visa policies to the patients and their companions. For instance, the liberal e- Visa policy by Indian government will boost the medical tourism of India with rising footsteps in the country opting solid organ transplants, cardiovascular treatments, orthopedic and cancer facilities at about 65%-90% cheaper to that of the U.S. prices as stated by an article published in Business Standard in 2016. However, the inability to deliver post- surgical care by the hospitals and the visa restrictions could hamper the market growth.
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Key players involved in medical tourism market are Asian Heart Association, Apollo Hospitals, Prince Court Medical Centre, Gleneagles Hospitals, Min-Sheng General Hospital, Raffles Medical Group, Bangkok Hospital, Fortis Healthcare Ltd., Anadolu Medical Centre, and Wooridul Spine Hospital.
Mediating agencies providing scope for expansion to the medical tourism market
Several private agencies offering medical tours worldwide includes France Surgery, MediCzech, Professional Beauty, ClinicAccess, BB Health Solutions, Revitalize in Turkey, Euromedical Tours, Doctour, Celsus Medical, and InLife. Certain private agencies also provide medical tourism facilities such as Medical Tourism Association which is a first non- profit organization created in the medical tourism industry. The government mediating agencies and brokers such as Joint Commission International (JCI) have assisted a number of patients by giving them relevant and necessary information about the presence of these services that results in the influx of patients towards other countries for better treatment options.
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