MEDICAL TOURISM AT RISK?

Richard Moor - Dec 16, 2008
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Medical tourism is a big industry these days. It grows rapidly but it also faces some troubles. It is still true that a surgery is cheaper in Asia than in the USA. Some American insurers even encourage their clients to go abroad to receive health care but these exotic detonations also have their own problems.

There is for example the case of Thailand. Local currency collapsed in 1997 and the Thai government decided to support the medical tourism industry because they hoped it will help the economy. The plan has worked and Thailand has become a popular medical tourism destination for certain surgeries. Perhaps, the best known medical tourism facility in this country is the Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok. The hospital boasts it provides services to patients from more than 190 countries and it has an International Patient Center with interpreters for the foreigners.

The country, however, is not a symbol of political stability these days, which scares off many possible medical tourists. Mass demonstrations and fears of possible military intervention are definitely not a good image for a tourism destination. Another issue that worries medical tourism players even more is the current financial crisis. Especially businesses that are relying on American tourists witness a fall in visitors. The growing unemployment in the USA makes people postpone surgeries and non-emergency treatments. As a result, there are empty beds in Bumrungrad. 

According to Asian Medical Tourism Analysis (2008-2012) (available at www.companiesandmarkets.com), Asia is the region with the biggest potential medical tourism market. The report also points out that the world’s aging population represents an opportunity for the Asian medical tourism industry.

The Analysis dealt especially with Thailand, Singapore, India, Malaysia and Philippines. Singapore, for example, was presented as a rather expensive destination, in comparison with the other Asian states, but as a place where they have often better infrastructure and resources than are those in the west.

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  1. In the recent years, government support, low cost, improved healthcare infrastructure, and rich cultural heritage, have taken the Indian medical tourism to new heights. India has emerged as one of the world’s most cost-efficient medical tourism destinations, and thus, attained a position among the global leaders. Based on our analysis and facts and figures provided in our latest research report, we anticipate that the Indian medical tourism market will register a CAGR of 27% during 2011-15.

    According to “Booming Medical Tourism in India”, the heart surgery centers in the country offer treatment at a significantly lesser prices compared to North America and Europe. Superior quality of dental care and ayurvedic spa treatments are also attracting patients across the globe. We studied each market segment in detail in the report, and included its cost effectiveness compared to other countries. Though India’s reputation is not good on hygiene front, its state-of-the-art medical facilities and value for money offered attracts thousands of patients each year. In this way, the country holds enormous potential for growth in medical tourism in future.

    Bharat Book Bureau (India)

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