Not only does it offer similar, if not higher levels of quality of treatment and facilities than many of its European counterparts, but the costs of medical procedures in Turkey are significantly lower too. Famous for its speciality in elective procedures such as liposuction, orthodontics, rhinoplasty and breast augmentation, Turkey also attracts those seeking cardiovascular surgery, brain surgery and knee and hip replacements. Aside from cheap top quality medical care, packages including treatment with 5 star hotel accommodation are also becoming increasingly popular and are attracting foreigners from way across the pond, as well as continuing to appeal to its neighbouring European Union residents.
So, state of the art facilities with highly trained medical professionals at impressively low costs followed by some Ancient city ruins and stunning Mediterranean or Aegean or black sea beaches? Hop on a plane to Turkey for your next medical procedure today! Turkey not cutting it for you? Head on over to South Korea where technology reigns superior in comparison to other countries and where competitive pricing can definitely make it worth the trip.
Famous for its incredibly advanced treatments, especially where spinal procedures are concerned, South Korea can also boast about the number of facilities that are equipped with the revolutionary cancer busting Cyberknife machines. It is state-of-the-art equipped facilities like the Cyberknife technology that has helped boost South Koreas increase in medical tourism, especially since where visitors have been increasing by tens of thousands each year. Furthermore, in hopes of courting further visitors, South Korea is pretty chilled when it comes to visa regulations so tourists from most countries are welcomed with no issues at all.
Spinal procedures, orthopaedic care, organ transplants, cancer treatment — South Korea has it all, enjoy! Today, Brazil now boasts the greatest number of practicing cosmetic surgeons per capita in the world and is the second largest market for plastic surgery, trailing just behind the US as it continues to offer low cost procedures to its many customers.
Looking for somewhere with a slightly lower crime rate than Brazil? This tiny Asian island has earned quite the reputation as a medical hub, and for good reason too. Pretty much any treatment or procedure can be carried out in Singapore for a reasonable cost but the doctors there are most famous for specialising in organ transplants, stem cell transplants and other complex care in areas such as cardiology, neurology, gynaecology, oncology and paediatrics.
How about a spinal fusion? Better yet, English is an official language so any bookings and arrangements you need to make will be very easy to manage. Furthermore, the medical infrastructure of Singapore is of such superiority that the country ranks number 1 in Asia and 6 th worldwide for healthcare infrastructure, according to the WHO. The boom in medical tourism here has also been aided by the Singapore government who are helping the tourism board to specifically target this medical market and have created numerous partnerships between hospitals and tour operators to give tourists the best deal their money can buy.
Specialist hospitals, clinics and dental surgeries have been popping up all over the country and now, with the help of the government, many hospitals are contributing to the medical tourism boom and have partnered with numerous tour operators. Panama may not be as cost efficient as some South-east Asian countries but to those in the area, particularly Americans, Panama is hugely appealing. The majority of doctors are trained in the US or the UK and are well known for carrying out dental treatments, cosmetic procedures, orthopaedic surgeries and gynaecological care.
So, with only a short distance to travel for North and South Americans, reasonably priced accommodation and brilliant blue skies, why not get a little bit more out of your next trip to the dentist? An ecological paradise with beaches, jungles and mountains — Costa Rica is teeming with wildlife and is a great spot for both explorers and beach bums. It makes sense then, that people would choose to visit this stunning country to combine their medical procedure with a one of a kind holiday.
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Medical tourism has had a hugely positive impact on Costa Rica so far and tour operators and hotels are getting in on the action too. Some hotels even have specialised recovery rooms with round the clock care so you can continue to recuperate in comfort, whilst still paying low costs for accommodation. Now, get ready for some pretty impressive prices. This should in the long term decrease costs throughout the US for both domestic and international travelers due to competitive bidding among providers. Medical procedure technologies available in the US are often the highest quality and cutting edge in the world.
Specific technology sub-sectors available include electro-medical equipment, irradiation equipment, surgical and medical instruments, and dental equipment. Continual improvements to these technologies place the US as one of the top of the medical providers in the world. Travel reservations pose the smallest technology challenge to the medical tourism industry due to existing robust internet travel services like Expedia, Travelocity and Kayak for flights, hotels and rental cars. These or similar services can be integrated into the online network infrastructure. However visa and immigration difficulties pose a new challenge in light of current political situations.
Increased immigration scrutiny will certainly make international travel more challenging and time consuming. Additional technologies like radio frequency identification RFID chips embedded in passports make counterfeiting less prevalent, and may open the door for more streamlined visa processes. One option may be to expand the existing medical tourism visa process for those wishing to travel for these medical services.
Similar programs could be offered for low-risk medical tourists. These sites may be too generic in nature for medical tourists. An improvement would be for the Medical Tourism Provider to advise on the patient's limitations of activities. Preferences and interests could be communicated to the agency to get personalized itineraries. Then use existing entertainment services to create personalized entertainment options and itineraries based on their abilities. In addition, select customized page Hospital Destination Guides are already available by www. It is also the umbrella fundamental in providing telemedicine and EHR services.
EHR is also a function of HIT, and medical providers use EHR to transmit patient information to various specialty providers in order to diagnose and prescribe treatment for patients. Telemedicine is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications. Medical providers have developed services that utilize technology such as two-way video, email, smart phones, wireless tools and other telecommunications technology to provide and improve patient care. Telemedicine utilizes information technology and telecommunications to provide medical services remotely by exchanging and transmitting health information, imaging and data.
Over the last forty years, hospitals have developed technology to increase access to medical services for patients outside of their general service area especially in rural areas. These technologies have increased access to care and decreased costs while increasing the quality of services provided. This technology is extremely important for the continuity of care for medical tourists who cannot stay within the destination country for follow-up care. Some of the specific applications of telemedicine include primary care and specialty care integration, remote monitoring of patients, and consumer information sharing and education.
For instance, a primary care provider can use telemedicine to provide information to a specialist in order to determine a diagnosis for a patient, for example an X-Ray or MRI. Providers can also use telemedicine to monitor the progress of patient treatments remotely. Electronic Health Records are encrypted and a means of transferring medical records from the host physician to the destination provider before and then after the procedure is complete.
The Medical Tourism Guide presents data suggesting US medical procedures cost two to ten times more than some other well-known destinations such as Mexico and India[iv]. It must be highlighted that with that cost comes advantages such as quality and effective care, and expedient service.
Although US medical care is the most expensive in the world, it is also arguably the most effective in the world. However, The Commonwealth Fund has consistently ranked the US last among western developed nations regarding efficiency of care vi. This is primarily due to high administrative costs, lack of information technology and lack of interdisciplinary teams. Technology must be harnessed to improve upon these inefficiencies.
Domestic providers may be in search of less expensive regional procedures in addition to the higher quality potentially available by searching the new comprehensive network. In order for the United States to be successful in medical tourism a robust comprehensive online network must be established.
The focus of this network will be on patient satisfaction. This network needs to include hospitals, medical advocates, insurance providers, doctors, pharmacies, blood banks, hotels, tour operators, tourist attractions, foreign traveler specialists, and blogs for comments. Through the network the patient has the ability to login specify what they are in need of and narrow the options to what is best for that patient. Medical advocates answer questions in all areas such as locating hospitals and determining available timing for procedures.
Medical Advocates can be assigned to the patient throughout the process for consistency. Many existing medical networks are limited in the procedures offered. The goal of the US network is to have choices for every possible procedure so that it is truly a one stop shop for all medical needs. High eligibility and strict certification requirements to become a part of the network will put this one at the top of the list for quality compared to other medical networks.
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Through the use of the internet, patients can be in a position to know what kind of care to expect and to make their own decisions. Patients can take the information they find on this comprehensive network and compare it to other sites to be ensured they can get the highest quality care by utilizing the registered providers.
There will be an emphasis on obtaining surveys from patients to give additional views of the care available. This will add to the credibility of the information patients are finding. In addition to providing the best available information on all services for medical tourism, the network provides information and education on the procedures being sought so that patients can be sure to get accurate information which will then lead the patient to the correct care needed. Videos of doctors explaining and performing procedures can be viewed through the network.
Registered hospitals are searchable by zip code, specialty, weather, and doctors associated with them. Information about each hospital is available so patients can get a thorough understanding of what is available at the hospital. Some hospitals have wings that cater to medical tourists. Patients can take virtual tours of the facilities in multiple languages.
The tours include information on the hi-tech equipment on site, the cleanliness and assurances on infection control, patient services and staffing. Links to registered hospitals are available through the network. Insurance providers registered with the network allow the patient to find out how a procedure is covered by their current policy. Some standard procedures have detailed information on coverage and what a patient without complications can expect. Available medical advocates with access to policy information help with understanding what the procedure entails and how it will be covered by insurance.
Insurance providers work on behalf of patients to negotiate discounted rates with the registered medical providers. Medical advocates, available in multiple languages, work with insurance providers worldwide to determine coverage for procedures. On-line, streamlined insurance pre-approval and claims tracking improvements would be a critical component.
In addition to medical insurance providers, travel insurance providers will also be available through the network. Insurance is available that covers costs of further treatments that arise from complications from surgery abroad. This is especially important for medical tourists from other countries. Individual doctors, their specialties, where they are located and which hospitals they work with is another critical component.
Patient access to information on the training, employment, experience, credentials, details on the length of time practicing, qualifications and professional affiliations including the specifics on different procedures performed of all registered doctors is important for informed decisions. For example when looking for a doctor to perform Lasik eye surgery, the number of Lasik procedures the doctors is necessary information.
Availability for scheduling appointments and procedures is kept in the online database so a patient will have an idea of the wait time for a particular doctor. Information on how the pre-op and post-op consultations will be conducted via telemedicine will be included.
Pharmacies registered with the network will help facilitate for care after the procedure. Pharmacies posting information on popular medications allows patients to shop for the best price. Blood banks registered with the network allow hospitals in the network know where blood is on hand, especially the rare types. When a need arises a hospital has quick knowledge of where to get a supply of necessary blood. Existing travel reservation sites and individual hotels registered with the network allow patients the ability to find hotels that cater to the needs of families of a patient in a nearby hospital.
Information of both hospital and hotel services through the network allow the patient and family easy access to match the facilities to their needs. Local tourist attractions registered with the network offer details on accessibility so that patients with limitations will be able to choose attractions they will be able to enjoy.
They can arrange care for any length of time. If a traveler is in need of a lengthy stay due to a long procedure the tour operators can help find long term arrangements. They will also be able to help with personal activities like banking, postal, and shopping needs. They have the knowledge of the area to help with multiple questions. They will also be able to help develop a budget and help arrange travel plans to stay within the budget.
Minimum accreditation requirements of all registered providers regardless of their capacity must be established to insure high quality. The Joint Commission International accreditation will be required. Accreditation from international programs will be encouraged. The network will work with the World Health Organization to develop high standards for medical tourism.
Consistent worldwide standards on quality will only help promote medical tourism to the United States.
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Standards on ethical issues to be included in the accreditation process will be sought. With a comprehensive network in place medical tourists can concentrate on getting well and not worry about routine travel issues. Representatives will travel to US and global trade shows to demonstrate and market the network. These patient advocates are the core providers of the tourism services to medical tourists. Hospital networks already exist in an individual basis, promoting tourism to their specific hospitals.
A successful medical tourism industry requires a national hospital network to offer choice to patients. Medical tour operators will be the driving force in spurring development of a robust hospital network. Insurance providers already exist and are using domestic medical tourism in an effort to provide more cost effective treatment to their patients. Greater emphasis can be placed on incentivizing patients to participate in domestic medical tourism by sharing savings with them at a higher coverage amount.
Physician networks already exist with an emphasis on supporting medical tourism. The medical tour operators can take the lead in growing the physician network. Accreditation and certification standards are necessary to ensure consistent performance standards from all medical providers in the network. Telemedicine already exists to support medical tourism, but typically on a domestic level. This would have to be expanded to support the international tourist as well.
Electronic Health Records are critical to medical tourism due to the distance between the patient and destination provider. Accurate and secure medical record transfer is necessary to ensure accurate history of each patient. Supporting technologies will be driven by the medical tour operators to improve efficiencies of each organization. They will be market driven, and developed as a way to set each operator apart from their competition.
Smartphone apps, web-based applications and single sign-on features will be used to attract medical tourists; much like any industry today uses technology as a selling point. In summary, the United States has the opportunity to expand its global presence as a medical tourism destination by focusing on the high quality, effective and expedient medical care available throughout the country.
A scoping review by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development confirmed the lack of infrastructure necessary for global medical tourism ix. Our research today presents many of the technological advances, including telemedicine, necessary to overcome these inefficiencies. Through the use of the network medical tourism in the United States will establish brand awareness and patients throughout the world will know what to expect in medical care.
Finally, cultural and entertainment diversions should also be highlighted for prospective patients. If the majority of the recommendations presented in this report are implemented, the United States will be able to develop a robust inbound and domestic medical tourism industry for years to come. Patient Expectations and Perceptions If you live in the United States and think of medical tourism you would most likely come to the conclusion that you have to travel abroad. However, the United States is actually a place to which many individuals travel to receive top-notch medical treatment.
The United States is not known for cheap medical care, rather for the most current types of medical technology and extremely specialized programs. There are several reasons why someone may decide to travel abroad, the first one being the availability of treatment. Not all countries are capable of safely performing the same procedures and some countries will not perform a specific procedure for legal, ethical, or cultural concerns Hulsman, If an individual is not comfortable with the providers or technology available for a specific procedure one may decide to find a location where the providers have a good reputation or an area which possesses the best technology.
Another factor that may entice one to leave their location to receive medical care is reduced waiting time. Many times if someone has a non-life threatening issue they may have to wait six months or more to receive treatment. Lastly, many people travel abroad for medical care because of the cost savings. Many Americans travel outside their home state or to another country to receive medical care that costs significantly less elsewhere. According to Hulsman , there is a difference in the willingness to travel abroad for medical care between Europeans and Americans.
The difference between Europeans and Americans could be that Europeans have nationalized health care, thus longer wait times to receive treatment. Additionally, they may be more accustomed to traveling to other countries and have more of an openness toward medical tourism. Below is a graph that depicts what may cause European citizens to be against traveling abroad to receive medical care.
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As you can see from the graph below, the two main reasons are the convenience and that individuals are satisfied with the care they are receiving. As mentioned previously, the cost of health care in the US tends to be expensive but is where some of the best technology and medical treatment can be found. According to United States Medical Tourism , there are international insurance policies held by many individuals who come to the United States for medical procedures or treatments. If a consumer has insurance that will cover procedures performed in other countries, then they will likely be more concerned with quality and new technology than the associated costs.
Many people also travel to the United States for fertility treatments such as artificial insemination, surrogacy, and in-vitro fertilization United States Medical Tourism, In order to continue to attract and increase the amount of medical tourists traveling to the United States, we must provide superb, cutting-edge medical services and facilities. Demand for the Augmented Products Not all medical tourists are traveling for the same reason and the requirements and desires of each are likely to differ depending on their motivation.
This quality experience begins with finding resources to assist them in selecting the best destination, facility, provider, and satisfaction with the services offered. Medical tourists seek a destination with attractive health care facilities, experienced providers, and a stable government. An additional factor in the minds of many medical tourists are the travel opportunities available in the selected destination as many view the trip as also a vacation opportunity rather than simply receiving medical treatment.
Due to the vastly growing popularity and profitability of medical tourism, there are now a number of resources available to those who are considering this experience. An organization which has gained widespread notoriety in the U. HealthCare Trip is a c 3 non-profit that focuses on providing non-biased, safe, and effective information and provides a database of the various services offered in different locations HealthCare Tourism International, Another trusted resource is Patients without Borders.
Patients without Borders has worked with the international Ministries of Health, Ministries of Tourism, top private hospital associations, and public-private initiatives to locate the world's most trustworthy, American accredited, medical destinations around the world Patients Without Borders, Once a medical traveler has consulted with medical travel resources they may end up selecting a particular destination due to its medical specialty, because of its vacation opportunities, or both.
According to Patients without Borders , approximately , patients travel to the U. While the U. Technical quality relates to the systems, technology, and equipment used while functional quality relates to the knowledge and manners of the medical staff. According to this article, patients give priority to functional quality rather than technical, although the technical quality is necessary Abdullah AM Sarwar, While America is known for the technical quality of its medical care, it is not necessarily known for its functional quality.
For example, the University of Texas M. However, according to the Medical Travel Quality Alliance which annually provides a list of the top 10 best hospitals in the world, U. A common perception is that the functional quality medical staff knowledge and manners is lacking in the U. While it would be impossible to predict the vacation preferences of medical tourists, we can make a few speculations as to the profile of medical tourists traveling to the United States.
As previously discussed, a medical tourist traveling to the U. Additionally, as previously discussed, a medical tourist traveling to the United States is likely seeking cutting-edge treatment. For extensive, specialty treatment requiring multiple or extended visits and significant recovery time, it is unlikely that the vacation opportunities available near their treatment location is the priority or deciding factor on one location over another. However, for less invasive or more common treatment, the vacation or recreational opportunities may weigh heavily when medical tourists select the destination.
The United States possesses the medical resources necessary to be successful in the world-wide market of medical tourism. As with any global industry, each country has its own benefits and risks. The United States has the benefit of quality treatment and stable government but suffers from higher costs.
Given these advantages and disadvantages, America would be best suited to focus on a particular segment of medical tourists, such as affluent individuals with particular, specialized medical needs. In , an estimated , to , non-U. Of these in-bound medical tourists, a majority of them were from the Middle East, South America, and Canada Deloitte, The motivations for these tourists traveling to the United States are varied.
Others come to the U. However, the most common reason individuals travel to the U. Based on our research, the ideal U. In order for a medical tourist to consider traveling to America for medical services they must possess a need.
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This need is for quality, specialized, and acute services that require hospitalization. These types of services are currently where America possesses its advantages in the medical tourism industry. By marketing to these tourists, the U. America is not known or sought for inexpensive medical care but, rather, for our quality.
For this reason the second is key trait possessed by our ideal candidate is affluence. Candidates will have international insurance or the wealth to pay for their procedures. Additionally, the patient must have the funds to cover lodging, transportation, and other expenses related to traveling to and staying in the United States.
The high cost of treatment and accommodation in the U. A crucial first step in marketing understands the customer. Given the fact that an in-bound medical tourist possesses specific needs and has the ability to pay for these needs, USA would greatly benefit from tailoring its marketing for cutting- edge medical treatment to attract foreign, affluent individuals in this booming global industry.
Notes i Medical Tourism Association. Health IT strategic framework. The world health report: Health Systems Financing, the path to universal coverage. Retrieved March 15, Medical Tourism Guide, Sample Costs. Schoenbaum, M. Doty, Ph. Holmgren, M. Kriss, and Katherine K. The Commonwealth Fund. This document provides a description of the different perspectives the current stakeholders have regarding medical tourism.
Research has identified the four main stakeholders in medical tourism as patients, facilitators, hospitals, and the tourism industry. Both domestic guest and foreign host countries have their own unique advantages and disadvantages regarding the four stakeholders. Given the lack of empirical data, this chapter will attempt to provide a basis for those perspectives on largely speculative and generalized information.
Support for Medical Tourism: Revisiting Viewpoints Medical tourism has become more and more popular worldwide. It is promoted by many nations owing to the fact it brings many benefits. For individuals, the availability of media creates greater awareness of various health care choices. People have more information concerning their options within other countries. This awareness lends itself to the people maximizing their benefits while minimizing their costs. Therefore, medical tourism is both useful and economic. People are quite pleased they can access health treatments while they enjoy their vacations.
After surgery, patients can recover in plush, restorative environments. Then, they can continue on with their vacation plans. In addition, the establishment of inexpensive surgery options for routine, alternative, and experimental care has lured many patients to global destinations increasing the local demand for hospital care.
For business and government of host countries, medical travel is seen as a green industry to increase the revenues and boost GDP. In patients or guest the cost effectiveness is the number one reason why people choose to go offshore for medical treatment. For many procedures, it is more expense for the patient to receive treatment at home than it is to purchase a plane ticket, book a hotel, and pay for all medical expenses out of pocket in a foreign country. This is especially true in popular medical tourism destinations such as India, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippine and Singapore.
Another major benefit for individual and business is the speed at which surgical procedures can be completed. This is especially true for tourists who come to countries with public health care systems with no or little regulatory paperwork and bureaucratic red tape. In this case, they will have unusually long waiting times whereas medical tourism offers the chance to be placed on the high priority list and surgery can start once they arrive in country. However, it can be seen that a long waiting-list is not an option when a person's health is at stake.
The expansion of these services and the relatively sparse and subjective information regarding medical tourism has led to the rise of medical tourism facilitators. These individuals act as intermediaries between the patient and their destination and services. Similar to a travel agent, these professionals find the best options for the level of care and comfort the patient is expecting. The increase in services rendered is attributed to two factors: word of mouth and the internet. Growing understanding and improvement in information availability will continue growth in medical tourism.
Health care costs have continued to rise in the United States, so intensely that citizens of the United States have difficulty affording health care. Many Americans who cannot obtain health undergo health care procedures are left with large bills that far exceed their income. Even when Americans manage to secure coverage, it is often inadequate and fails to cover most of the costs associated with expensive procedures. Yanos, The majority of patients who seek care overseas pay for health care out of pocket and are often uninsured or underinsured.
Depending on the country where the care is received, patients save anywhere from 50 to 80 percent as opposed to the amount they would pay if the same care were to be rendered in the United States. The number of Americans who participate in health care saving accounts increases each year. This has aided to enable patients to take the control of their health care out of the hands of American physicians and choose to go abroad for their medical treatment, using their health care savings accounts to help cover foreign medical expenses.
Yanos, Cosmetic and dental surgeries are among the most popular procedures selected by medical tourists. These procedures are not generally covered by insurance companies, increasing the appeal of medical tourism. South and Central American countries, such as Brazil, Argentina, and Costa Rica, are particularly popular choices for medical tourists seeking cosmetic procedures due to the relatively cheap flight prices and the sophistication of these procedures in these countries. Despite the relative sophistication of the procedures, the cost differences are still incredibly steep, resulting in a substantial savings for the patient.
Significant price differences between the United States and foreign countries for the same procedures leaves few individuals surprised at the increase of medical tourism in recent years. In , an estimated , Americans traveled abroad for medical care; that number was expected to increase to 6 million by the end of the year There are several factors that explain why health care costs are so much lower overseas.
Lower wage for providers, less expensive medical devices and pharmaceutical products, limited involvement from third party payers such as private insurance companies, and lower malpractice premiums have contributed to the large disparity between costs of health care from other countries in comparison to the United States. Patients have started to show preference for some countries for particular procedures or specialties. Brazil, Costa Rica, and Mexico are popular destinations for cosmetic and dental surgeries; Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and India have emerged as hubs for cardiac and orthopedic surgeries.
The Joint Commission International has accredited overseas hospitals that have met their standards. Oversea hospitals not only offer very good discounted rates compared to those in the US, but many of the international hospitals have also gained quality report scores that are equal to or better than US hospitals Thakkar, In , the American Medical Association published medical tourism guidelines to help guide and inform individuals receiving medical care overseas. The American Medical Association suggests that medical care outside the US should be voluntary, and that patients should be informed of their legal rights and resources before agreeing to travel outside the United States.
It is recommended that individuals who are traveling for procedures should arrange local follow-up care to ensure continuity of care. Patients should have access to physician licensing, facility accreditation, and outcomes data for both for the facility and physician providing the care. Medical record transfers should follow HIPAA guidelines and patients should be informed of potential risks of combining surgical procedures with long flights and vacation activities Thakkar, Medical tourism throughout the United States and other industrial nations is looked upon as a source for many common alternative and cutting-edge experimental surgeries and other elective care.
Instances for Canadians may be due to the excessive wait time they may experience for elective care, and the case of the United States it is due to the cost of care. In both instances, care that is not covered through standard medical insurance may be paid out of pocket by the patient, because of the reduced cost comparatively.
Additional factors which play into the dynamics of medical tourism include both ethical issues and questionable care and limited legal recourse. Weak malpractice laws and enforceability of law for medical tourists seeking restoration are significant factors in decisions against seeking foreign care Crooks Given the risks are diminishing as greater standards are established medical tourism will continue to be a growth industry for foreign countries and a welcome respite for their patients.
Patients from countries with smaller economies primarily sought advanced medical treatments only performed in industrialized countries. Two other factors were identified: travel and relaxations and experimental services. The primary detractors for medical tourism: lack of information for level of service and care and the limited legal recourse. Travel demands are also a consideration because of medical implications of long flights and reduced levels of care during rehabilitation, including exposure to unfamiliar diseases.
There are ethical challenges which arise that must be analyzed by the provider because care needs of the local population may be set aside for the more profitable services to medical tourists. Public and private hospitals have separate goals and look at the opportunities to provide care differently. The accreditation standards will be sought by host countries. Guest countries are able to reduce the demand on their current infrastructure which improves the timeliness of service, but has a negative impact on pricing.
The Tourism Industry View Both host and guest country facilitators act as middlemen between the service provider and the patient. For a host country, the tourism or governmental office or private practice hospitals market the availability of services. The guest country may utilize a company to bring the service provider and patient together for a fee, but may also be performed by insurance or governmental agencies.
The facilitator increases the efficiency of medical tourism industry and focuses on how to balance supply and demand. The host country receives both money from services provided to the patient by the hospital, but also incidental expenditures such as hotel, food, and miscellaneous purchases. All money spent abroad increases the GDP of the host country and is lost by the guest country in a nearly direct transference.
The host country sees medical tourism as nearly completely positive. In summary, medical tourism system has many different players and will continue to evolve as market globalization pursues homeostasis. The guest and host countries will continue to provide and receive services and as such more information will be generated. More time and research is needed to provide a concrete evaluation of the implications the different stakeholder perspectives will make on the industry.
A Content Analysis of Patient Reviews We have reviewed a few hundreds of patient reviews about various medical tourism related service providers. In particular, we reviewed patient responses related to Columbia, Costa Rica, and India. Patient reviews touched upon facets such as clinical quality, hospital facilities, locational advantages, cost, country security, passport-visa regime, theft-extortion, malpractices, tourist attractions, accommodation facilities, etc.
Here, the findings generated out of analyzing patient reviews given in guest books and various online platforms are summarized: Medical tourism is becoming an accepted reality to more and more people in Columbia. Due to its financial advantage, the industry is a developing trend in healthcare. Colombia, Costa Rica and India are some of the countries who play a major role in medical tourism industry. It is known worldwide as a leader in specialties such as plastic surgery, ophthalmology, cardiology, orthopedic and cancer surgeries.
According to Wikipedia, the country is receiving more than 1. The increase in medical tourism led Colombian government to invest in beautiful medical facilities as well as obtain resources that maintain a safe environment for tourists and travelers. The exotic location of the country is one of the few reasons why Colombia is known as a first class destination for medical procedures and cosmetic treatments.
Colombia has world class facilities with comfortable recovery, world recognized doctors, procedures at nominal costs, and top class standards. The center of medical tourism in Colombia is its capital city, Bogota. However, there are world class medical facilities in Medellin, San Fernando, and the coastal town of Cartagena. In the hospitals, English is spoken by almost every staff member, which makes the visit comfortable for all travelers. With the oceans and beautiful mountains surrounding Colombia, the recovery is quite relaxing and enjoyable.
The knowledge and professionalism of Colombian doctors are recognized across the world. Even though the salaries of Colombian doctors are a fraction of U. The medical services that the Colombian doctors provide to the travelers are high quality, safe and affordable. Medical expenses in Colombia are a fraction of the U. For the amount of the U. There are many success stories that agree with the outstanding medical care Colombia offers to medical tourism.
One of them is from Kristin L. Kristin was tentatively diagnosed, at her home hospital, with a serious malignant illness. Roosevelt Fajardo. He had already communicated with me prior to my arrival by email, viewed my medical records and conferred with several other specialists. That is worth its weight in gold — but being in Colombia, the entire experience cost considerably less than that. In Melanie traveled to Bogota, Colombia to get the body of her dreams.
To her horror, she received just the opposite of that. She left Colombia with two the fetal infections, pseudomonas and staphylococcus. The infections were caused by an unsanitized operating room or dirty medical equipment. There was a 10 inch Penrose drain that slipped into her left side of her stomach and needed to be urgently removed. When she arrived to the U.
The Colombian doctors burned her skin and even though the U. Her reconstructive surgery in the U. Over the last few years, Costa Rica, together with Cuba, Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Brazil, and Chile has become some of the Latin American countries that have become popular destinations for medical tourism.
Most medical tourists travel from the United States and Canada with a majority of them seeking dental treatments. Costa Rica is particularly attractive to American tourists because of its proximity and short flight, the quality of medical services and its health care system, and lower medical costs.
The JCI is a branch of a U. Americans tourists prefer Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama, for dental services or cosmetic surgeries. Patients also will find lower-priced nonsurgical procedures and tests. The cost savings and the country's natural beauty attract many tourists to combine their treatment with a vacation with the entire cost being far less that the treatment alone in the U.
While the prices and attractions sound too good to be true, the sad fact is sometimes the quality of health care is not high. This could also be said for health care in the U. There are many stories of patients traveling to Costa Rica, who go to a highly recommended dentist only to have their condition worsened. An uninsured U. She suffered significant damage not only to her teeth but also her jaw. She has permanent damage to her teeth, jaw, and she cannot speak correctly because of this.
It was clear that a total hip-replacement procedure was my only option for pain relief. Without medical insurance in the United States, the cost of surgery was well beyond my means. I had to find a more affordable option. Many countries offer high quality medical care at affordable prices, but the more that I read, I became convinced that Costa Rica offered the state-of-the-art medical facilities and the incredibly talented physicians that I was searching for. The initial process with Medical Tours Costa Rica was detailed and thorough.
I received clear and timely responses to my questions and was also given the opportunity to speak with my surgeon prior to me making my final decision. Once I decided that Costa Rica was my best choice, Medical Tours Costa Rica provided an itinerary for all my lodging, transportation, medical evaluations and hospital arrangements. My main concern was the potential language barrier; would I be able to understand and communicate my needs to the hospital staff?
I was encouraged to bring a medical companion and all arrangements were made for us both… …We have met some incredible Costa Rican citizens that made us feel at home. Thank you Medical Tours Costa Rica for making this such a wonderful experience. As the worldwide industry of medical tourism is expected to further grow and develop in the next few years, India has quickly become the leader within the field of medical tourism and is expected to continue as a leader in the time that follows.
In its medical tourism infancy, India has exploited the opportunity for providing medical services and has continued to develop its levels of quality, services, and care to a degree that it now rivals Western medical facilities. A large credit of the success of this endeavor must be given to the Indian government and the private entities within the country. Both have embraced and taken advantage of the opportunities to develop and market this type of healthcare industry to foreigners. As a result, both the country and its people have experienced great rewards for their economy and beyond.
The approach that India has taken to medical tourism and the way in which it has marketed its industry of medical tourism is worth examining and analyzing in an effort to understand what has been successful and how that success has been sustained. One of the biggest reasons India has emerged as an international medical tourism hub has to be credited to the global medical environment and the global economy which has developed within the last few years.
The outside influences that affect this have really given a wonderful opportunity to provide India and other nations a very specific niche within this said global industry.
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Some of the most affluent nations, who are greatly influencing this global environment, include the United States, the United Kingdom, and other Western nations. Besides their robust economies, these affluent nations also have very elaborate infrastructures, legal systems, and industry policies which can sometimes serve as great hindrances to patients or potential clients who wish to receive healthcare.
India provides a great contrast to the provided establishments within these Western nations by providing services which are cheaper, have less legal process, and can provide care of comparable quality and service to those of even the most advanced nations. In the last decade, the medical tourism industry within India has now bolstered to be about a two-billion dollar business and has served about one-and-a-half million medical tourists collectively. Annually, India attracts about seven-to-ten thousand tourists a year and those tourists bring in about three-hundred million dollars a year.
Most of these tourists come from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada which are all countries that either have very high medical costs, very long wait times, or have too inhibiting or legalized medical care policies. Medical tourists are attracted to India because the country can allow great relief from these pressures and circumstances that are commonly found in other different countries. In India, many common, elaborate, and necessary medical procedures are discounted up to one-tenth of the cost of the same procedure in these developed countries.
This is partly due to the fact that India does not have the insurance, protection, and litigation systems and policies other countries have in place. Besides effecting prices for medical procedures, this also allows medical operations and treatments to be provided for with virtually no waiting time. After the low costs and low wait times, patients who come to India receive ample, dependable, and effective recovery care which can sometimes be hard to access in their home countries.
With such growth that is occurring within the medical tourism industry in India, the government has recognized the opportunities and benefits of being a medical tourism destination and has taken action in order to help progress the industry. The government and private entities that are involved in the industry have created an aggressive marketing and awareness program which reaches many parts of the globe.
This outreach campaign centers on having international liaisons and branches that are provided through foreign missions and centers. Attractive travel, treatment, and tourism packages are also offered to tourists and these deals are found through travel and tourism companies. Literature, brochures, directories, website content, and medical rate pricings are readily offered and provided through these establishments. The outreach is not just limited toward international development either, but also extends to within the country of India as well.
Health insurance is now offered within India and it can be used by medical tourists. Besides these outreach programs, international inbound flights are regularly chartered and these flights all have in-flight medical assistance provided. Transportation services from the airport have medical services provided on board as well.
Effective wellness campaigns and home follow-ups have also been created in order to attract more tourism. The government has also encouraged medical industry growth by giving tax benefits. National regulations and infrastructure have also seen recent developments in order to benefit medical tourism. Perhaps the biggest advancement of this has been the establishment of the Medical Tourism Regulatory Body and the Medical Tourism Association. Together, these groups help establish standard medical tourism business ethics, acceptable rates, wellness policies, and procedure policies.
These groups also work with tourism facilities in other nations in Europe, the Middle East, the Americas, and South East Asia for working with medical institutions and helping to standardize the field and the care after that follows medical procedures. One of the great benefits of having these type of groups and having outreach programs which reach out internationally, has been that the English language has now become the official language offered in many facilities and most foreigners who speak English who come for medical procedures have no trouble at all communicating.
There have been significant developments within the Indian education system. Medical tourism training is now offered within universities which include structured courses and a tailor-made syllabus. These courses revolve around tourism marketing, tourism development, the traveling industry, and the hospitality and hotel industry. Most of these courses are two-year degrees and are offered as Hospital Operations Management and Medical Tourism. At this time, some of the most popular medical procedures that are given in India are dental procedures, knee and joint procedures, cosmetic procedures, and heart bypass and heart valve procedures.
Patients who undergo procedures within these hospitals are impressed with the follow up care, the lack of a language barrier, and of course the low cost of procedures. Some of the more common complaints that are heard are about the exhaustion from travel, the sometimes unique food, and the distance away from very close friends and loved ones. It has also taken many steps to insure that the medical tourism industry is continually offered at a high quality and is sustainable for the future.
Because of these factors, India can expect to remain a leader in medical tourism for many years.
Based on above overview of different countries that offer medical services to travelers, there are many reasons why one travels abroad for medical care and bypasses the services offered in their local communities. However, prior to searching medical attention in other countries one must consider the risks of taking their healthcare needs abroad. According to Travel and Leisure magazine, the biggest problem with medical tourism is the lack of legal rights to the patients when things go wrong.
Many countries do not have strong legal systems and therefore will not compensate the individual when a procedure goes wrong. When leaving the U. Since most of the research is done on the internet it is difficult to find honest reviews of the abroad facility that is being considered. There are people on medical tourism web-sites pretending to have had a great experience with certain doctors and dentists, when in fact, they are working for the very doctor, dentist, hospital or clinic they are writing about.
It is about impossible to fully research many medical professionals abroad since there is so much fraud in the medical tourism industry. If a doctor makes a mistake and injures a patient in the United States; the patient is compensated. However, when a doctor abroad makes a mistake, no one cares and the patient does not have many legal rights to pursue a demand in compensation. That alone should make one pause and contemplate on whether going abroad for medical procedures is worth doing.
This culture has much less of a taboo on surgery and also provides a comfortable atmosphere in which to recover. They offer a facility and staff that is knowledgeable and equipped for all things related to health care. ICBA, It provides services to all types of public and is recommended by Argentinians and the rest of the world. This facility has the best professionals and prevention and rehabilitation programs with maximum international quality levels.
Their mission is to prevent, diagnose and treat cardiovascular diseases everyone while providing quality care and incorporating technology. ICBA, This institution uses medical tourism agencies for promotion. They also have their own website with testimonials, pictures and further information. The medical team is highly-acclaimed and preeminently qualified in all types of plastic surgery. The team has unique qualifications in facial, body and breast aesthetic surgery; and facial cosmetic procedures. The doctors are highly-trained physicians, fully-accredited and academically and professionally acclaimed.
What Clinic, This institution uses medical tourism agencies for promotion. Plastic Surgery in Argentina, This institution uses medical tourism agencies for promotion. Because of its ideal geographical location it can provide quality healthcare to thousands of people that can easily reach the country. Turkey is home to top notch health care facilities, and is a wonderful vacation destination, exposing its visitors to its rich history and culture.
They have been serving local and international patients since PlacidWay, This group subscribes to PlacidWay, a medical tourism agency. They provided PlacidWay with information about awards, their staff and details about their facility. They also provided pictures for display. Today this group has 3 general hospitals, a medical center, a teaching hospital and clinical research center. Group Florence Nightingale is one of the largest and most reputed hospitals in Europe and the Middle East.
They offer advanced technology and the implementation of smart beds. Group Florence Nightingale Hospitals, This hospital promotes itself by subscribing to several medical tour facilitating agencies and has a website complete with photos and video. They are internationally well-known and an ISO-certified private hospital. They offer only the best in compassionate, understanding and knowledgeable care and services to individuals from around the world looking for aesthetic and cosmetic surgical procedures. They offer such treatments as facial and body aesthetic procedures, breast aesthetic procedures and hair transplantation.
Ekip Estetik promote themselves using PlacidWay which offers a full package including the treatment, airfare, consult, a cellphone to use while in Turkey and accommodations. Ekip Esteik, They have their own website with pictures and further information. Thailand In the past few years, Thailand has emerged as the leader for Medical tourism in the United States.