About medical tourism

What is medical tourism?

Medical tourism can be defined as the process of traveling outside the country of residence for the purpose of receiving medical care. Growth in the popularity of medical tourism has captured the attention of policy-makers, researchers and the media. Originally, the term referred to the travel of patients from less-developed countries to developed nations in pursuit of the treatments not available in their homeland. What really puts the word “tourism” in medical tourism concept is that people often stay in the foreign country after the medical procedure. Travelers can thus take advantage of their visit by sightseeing, taking day trips or participating in any other traditional tourism activities. Medical Tourism is where people who live in one country travel to another country to receive medical, dental and surgical care while at the same time receiving equal to or greater care than they would have in their own country, and are traveling for medical care because of affordability, better access to care or a higher level of quality of care.

Patients may pursue medical care abroad for a variety of reasons, such as decreased cost, a preference for care from providers from a similar culture, or to receive a procedure or therapy not available in their country of residence. In the United States, medical tourism generally refers to people traveling to less-developed countries for medical care. Medical tourism is a worldwide, multibillion-dollar phenomenon that is expected to grow substantially in the next 5–10 years.

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The practice of Medical Tourism is often called Medical Vacations. Medical tourists have the opportunity to enjoy the attractions of the destination countries before the surgery, and then undergo the surgery at a world class medical facility, to later recover in a luxurious resort. The number of medical tourists keeps growing rapidly, and by now, more than one million Americans travel for healthcare every year.

Hospitals receiving international patients dedicate themselves to professional excellence. Improving technologies and standards of care in many countries will ensure the continuous thriving of medical tourism, and convince more and more health insurers in developed countries to contribute to the costs of health tourism to economize on medical treatments.

There are two major components of the service quality in the health care sector – technical or mechanical quality and serviceable or functional quality. Technical equipment is at the core of the patients’ diagnostic algorithm, while the functional quality is measured by the service offered in the healthcare centers (such as the services of staffs, nurses and, most importantly, the doctors towards the patient and their assistants). The service quality in medical tourism industry is a vital part in attracting customers.

Advantages of medical tourism

Medical tourism has served as a gateway for patients to receive affordable and quality medical care by crossing borders. Estimates show that over 7 million global citizens cross borders every year to appreciate the effects of medical tourism. Advantages of medical tourism include below cases:

1) Cost savings is one of the predominant factors that has made medical tourism a lucrative option for patients from countries with expensive medical care. Patients are able to pay travel, medical treatment and accommodation expenses in emerging medical tourism destinations for a lesser price than how much the treatment alone would cost in home countries, while receiving quality medical care at many health tourism destinations.

2) Medical tourism gives patients access to instant medical care with a short to zero waiting period. Medical tourism serves as a timely and effective solution to patients whose health condition requires immediate attention, and who aren’t able to receive such medical care in domestic hospitals.

3) There are over 600 JCI-accredited medical facilities worldwide. These hospitals give patients access to high standards of medical care which may otherwise not be available in their home countries.

4) Healthcare facilities who have tied up with medical tourism agencies offer post-op care for visiting medical tourists. Patients receive utmost attention and care at these facilities, helping them recover in a relaxed atmosphere.

5) Medical tourism or a medical vacation gives patients a chance to explore a new destination and a new culture. In fact, medical tourism agencies offer well-rounded health vacation packages that let medical tourists receive first-class medical care while sightseeing tourist hotspots or relaxing on the beach in the destination.