Medical tourism Or Health Tourism
Medical Tourism or Healthcare tourism can be basically known as the incident of people travelling outside their country for medical, surgical or dental treatment
The notion of Medical Tourism is not new. It has been there for long ages. The Ancient Greeks were the first to place the foundation for a widespread medical tourism network. In the respect of their idol of the drug, Asclepius, the Greeks erect the Asclepia Temples, which become some of the world’s first medical centres. People from all over the travelled to these temples to seek cures for their ailments.
The phenomenon continued for centuries. Traditionally people travelled from less developed countries to more developed countries for better medical facilities, but the last couple of decades have seen a great shift in the phenomenon.
Medical tourism is now global medical tourism or global health travel; a phenomenon whereby people criss-cross borders and seek treatment where they find the best value; value in terms of price, quality, lower waiting time or even getting privacy and confidentiality. Hence the term medical value travel, which experts feel is a more appropriate term than medical tourism.
While people from developing countries continue to travel to developed nations for better care, people from developed countries travel to medical tourism destinations where they get affordable medical care.
Medical tourism is also known as medical travel and the two terms are often used interchangeably. Medical travel also means travelling to a different state or different country for the purpose of seeking medical, surgical or dental treatment.
The most important factors that lead people to opt for medical tourism or medical travel are:
- Affordable cost of treatment overseas
- Lack of facilities/ skilled doctors in the home country
- Long waiting time for treatment in the home country
- Some treatments like fertility may not be legal in the home country
- Privacy and confidentiality of the procedure is maintained such as in Cosmetic surgery
The country which receives foreign patients or international patients terms it as inbound medical tourism, while the country from where people travel outside terms it as outbound medical tourism.
There is another popular term- “Domestic Medical Tourism”, where people travel to different states in their own country for medical treatment. This is because of better quality treatment in the other states or lack of infrastructure in the home state.
So, the simple definition of medical tourism is “travelling for medical treatment” be it outside the state or out of the country.
Medical Tourism Benefits:
- Cost Savings
- Better Quality of Healthcare.
- Priority treatment
- Privacy/ Confidentiality
- Opportunity to discover a new country
Many associations and experts state that the patients and insurance companies save as much as 90% when they opt for treatment abroad. Most popular procedures for which people travel abroad include dental surgery, cosmetic surgery, Bariatrics, Orthopedics, Cochlear Implants and Organ Transplant.
Medical Tourism Destinations
There are many countries popular as medical tourism destinations worldwide, of which India, Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey and Mexico are top medical tourism destinations. Various factors which contribute to the popularity of a destination include:
- Cost Savings
- Reputation of Doctors
- Healthcare Facilities
- Ease of Communication
- Visa formalities
- The political stability of the country
- Popularity as a tourist destination
Countries like Thailand, India and Malaysia are popular for cosmetic and dental surgery because they make a great tourist destination as well. People often combine visiting places of tourist interest along with getting their dental, cosmetic or joint replacement done which gives them a chance to undergo medical treatment at low cost and visit a great tourist destination. People often term it as a medical vacation instead of medical tourism