Medical tourism taking over the market

It is foreseen a growth up to $ 143,8 billion by 2022 for travel across international borders with the purpose of availing medical treatment of some form, which may or may not be available in the travellers home country”, namely medical tourism as defined by the Allied Market Research Report, released in the first quarter of 2016.

Main motivations to travel for a medical treatment are poor quality of the service, high costs and/or long waiting lists in the home country. The most relevant segment will continue to be the cancer treatments.

According to OCPS-SDA Bocconi, in Europe the market is 12 billion euro worth, but size can be larger as EU citizens are allowed to be cured in every country of the Union. Major destinations are France, Germany, Turkey and the UK.

In other continents Thailand, India, South Korea, Barbados, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Singapore, Hong Kong, Israel, Iran and South Africa are leaders.

The report underlines that every Country has its own specialisation. For example, Singapore is well-known for stem cell and cancer treatments. As reported by The Forbes, Dubai is making a strong effort to become one of the leaders of this sector by investing in private healthcare, which allows specialisation and improvement of the services. In 2015, the number of international tourists for medical purposes rose up to 300.000 units compared to about 107.000 in 2012. The most popular services Dubai offers are orthopaedics and ophthalmology.

Medical tourism generates the major revenue for developing countries such as India, South Africa, Thailand and Mexico. These nations provide medical treatments at a lower price if compared to developed nations. Notwithstanding, excess of medical tourists could represent a serious threat for limited healthcare capacities, to the detriment of the residents. The major part of the medical travellers towards developing nations comes from the U.S. and from Europe.

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Source: Allied Market Research, 2016

Even though destinations such as the USA, Japan and the UK offer high quality services, their cost is usually very high and, by consequence, international tourists demand medical treatments only for those which are not available in their country of origin.

International Medical Travel Journal reported how North Cyprus‘s struggling to promote itself as a medical tourism destination. Improvements in services, hospitality capacities, safety and security, and in advertising could help to attract more visitors, beyond the failure with the Turkish tourists.

Medical tourism, as every sector of this industry, is not immune from the current international situation. As reported by the IMTJ, recent bomb attacks in Thailand and Turkey represent a threat.

At Twissen we observed how medical tourism is influencing the healthcare systems of certain countries. In fact, it has an impact on the development of expertise in specialty treatments and it attracts important investments. In addition, it allows a rich exchange of medical techniques, healthcare practices and information.