Only a few years ago, medical tourism was a blip in overall global tourism spending. Today, it is a multi-billion dollar industry that is expected to increase by up to 25 percent per year over the next 10 years.
This is according to a recent report issued by VISA and Oxford Economics, whilst this figure can only be considered an estimate, it indicates the general publics growing acceptance of the industry.
Stats and Figures
Although precise figures are hard to come by and the range can vary from source to source, the following figures are given as the general consensus:
Current market size between 45 and 72 billion USD
Number of Medical Tourists between 14 and 16 million per year
Spending an average of 3,800 – 6,000 USD (including non-medical fees)
Estimated 1.4m Americans per year could travel abroad for treatment
Why and Where to go for Medical Tourism?
As each individual’s reasons for choosing Medical Tourism differ, the two main reasons are that it’s cheaper and the waiting times are much shorter. However, for a region, country or city to become a competitive destination for Medical Tourism, the following factors are essential:
The potential for cost saving on medical procedures
Strong tourism sector and infrastructure, particularly airport, roads and other means of transport
Internationally trained and experienced medical staff
Reputation for clinical excellence and adoption of best practices and state of the art medical technologies
Commitment to international accreditation (JCI and other accreditations)
Government and private sector investment in healthcare
The top destinations excelling in all of these areas are: Asia & Middle East: Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, India, UAE, Israel, South Korea, Taiwan Europe: Turkey, Germany, Poland, Hungary Americas: US, Mexico, Costa Rica, Columbia
Most Common Procedures
Whilst cosmetic surgery remains the most popular form of Medical Tourism, medical/tertiary treatments are becoming more popular each year, for example:
Weight loss treatments
General health screenings
By far the largest and most trusted international accreditation is the US-based Joint Commission International (JCI). Established in 1994, accredited hospitals and facilities must meet the same set of rigorous standards set forth in the US by the Joint Commission. For more information, visit the JCI website.
What’s the Outlook for Medical Tourism?
As standards continue to improve and the cost savings increase, more people are beginning to consider Medical Tourism as a viable alternative. The stigma that once shrouded foreign hospitals and medical care is starting to clear as people become more informed and more encouraged by the cost savings on offer. Whilst the figure of 25% annual growth may seem a little optimistic, this sector does look set to continue to grow over the following years. With this growth will come improvements in the care and the facilities, which may one day surpass that of the Western standards.