The boom in medical tourism is happening once again, with an estimated number of 14 million medical tourists and rising. Therefore, countries are increasingly vying for the attention of medical tourists, and medical tourism destinations and businesses could fall behind if they do not adapt to the shifting environment. Medical tourism represents a promising growth market within tourism. MedicaI tourism will grow by 10% a year and as economies recover this will reach 20%. medical tourism 2023
People are traveling to different countries to receive medical treatments that they cannot afford or receive in their home countries. Experts expect that medical tourism will persist in its growth in 2023, creating opportunities for patients and healthcare providers globally.
What is Medical Tourism?
Medical tourism refers to traveling to a different country to receive medical treatment. Patients may choose medical tourism for various reasons, such as seeking more affordable healthcare, receiving medical treatments that are not available in their home countries, or avoiding long waiting times for treatments.
Medical tourism has been growing rapidly in recent years, with the industry estimated to be worth around $100 billion. The Medical Tourism Association reports that every year, over 20 million people travel for medical reasons, and experts project that this number will continue to rise in the coming years.
Reasons for Medical Tourism in 2023
In 2023, medical tourism is expected to continue to grow due to several reasons, including:
One of the primary reasons for medical tourism is the high cost of healthcare in some countries. Many people cannot afford medical treatments in their home countries, and traveling to another country for medical treatment may be a more affordable option.
For example, a hip replacement surgery in the United States may cost around $40,000, while the same surgery in India may cost as little as $6,000. In addition to the lower cost of medical treatments, the cost of travel, accommodation, and other expenses may still be less than the cost of receiving the same treatment in their home country.
Access to Advanced Medical Treatments
In some cases, people may travel for medical treatment that is not available in their home countries. For example, some medical treatments may not have received regulatory approval or may be too expensive in some countries. In such cases, traveling to another country may provide access to advanced medical treatments.
For example, stem cell therapy is not yet widely available in many countries, but it is available in countries like China, Mexico, and Russia. Patients seeking this treatment may travel to these countries to receive the treatment.
Reduced Waiting Times
Long waiting times for medical treatments can be frustrating and may lead to worsening health conditions. Medical tourism can provide an opportunity to reduce waiting times for treatments.
For example, in countries like Canada and the United Kingdom, waiting times for certain medical treatments may be several months or even years. Patients may choose to travel to other countries where the waiting times are shorter.
Challenges in Medical Tourism 2023
While medical tourism provides opportunities for patients, it also poses several challenges, including:
Lack of Regulations
The lack of regulation in medical tourism means that patients may not receive the same level of care they would in their home countries. For example, the qualifications and experience of healthcare providers may vary, and patients may not have access to the same legal protections as they would in their home countries.
Cultural and Language Barriers
Traveling to another country for medical treatment may pose challenges related to cultural and language barriers. Patients may struggle to communicate with healthcare providers, and cultural differences may affect the quality of care that they receive.
Traveling for medical treatment may also pose risks related to travel, such as flight delays, lost luggage, or exposure to infectious diseases. Patients may also face challenges related to obtaining travel visas and insurance.
10 Key Trends in medical tourism 2023
- The greater proportion of medical travel is regional or domestic within a country.
- The increasing cost of air travel and decreased wish to travel a long distance combined means long distance medical tourism is fading.
- Many medical tourists do not seek out the cheapest destination.
- Much medical tourism is for cosmetic, fertility or dental treatment.
- Medical tourists are increasingly being courted by nations in an organized way.
- The key drivers for medical tourism are the lack of insurance and services (in the patient’s home country), lower costs, better quality care, procedures unavailable at home and shorter waiting periods.
- Practices like opening offices in source markets; raising awareness about their competitive edge, effective communication, and offering ease of visa and travel bundled with tourism and treatment were popular strategies.
- Healthcare businesses are setting up physically in another country.
- Some countries have exited the market but others known as suppliers- are becoming destinations.
- Electronic telemedicine is where a patient gets help from a doctor in another country without traveling.
While medical tourism has its challenges, several countries have been successful in attracting medical tourists and providing high-quality medical treatments. Here are some case studies of successful medical tourism destinations:
Thailand is a leading medical tourism destination, attracting over 2.5 million medical tourists each year. The country is known for its affordable healthcare, advanced medical treatments, and well-trained healthcare professionals. The Thai government has also implemented regulations to ensure the safety and quality of medical treatments offered to tourists.
Thailand is particularly known for cosmetic surgery, dental treatments, and fertility treatments. The country has several world-class medical facilities that cater to international patients, and many healthcare providers speak English to cater to international patients.
India is another popular medical tourism destination, known for its affordable healthcare and advanced medical treatments. The country has several world-class medical facilities that offer treatments for a wide range of medical conditions, including cancer treatments, organ transplants, and cardiac surgeries.
The Indian government is taking proactive measures to promote medical tourism by streamlining visa applications for medical tourists, as the medical tourism industry in India is projected to reach $9 billion by 2023.
Mexico is a popular medical tourism destination for patients from the United States and Canada due to its proximity to these countries. Many healthcare providers trained in the United States work in Mexico, where the country has established numerous world-class medical facilities that cater to patients from all over the world.
Mexico is well-known for providing affordable healthcare and advanced medical treatments, particularly in the fields of cosmetic surgery, dental treatments, and bariatric surgery. The country’s government has also been promoting medical tourism by offering tax incentives to healthcare providers who cater to international patients.
The Future of Medical Tourism
Experts predict that medical tourism will continue to grow in 2023, presenting opportunities for patients and healthcare providers worldwide. Nevertheless, the industry must brace for challenges such as heightened competition and the pressing need for improved regulations.
As medical tourism grows, healthcare providers will need to focus on providing high-quality medical treatments and ensuring the safety and well-being of their patients. Governments will also need to implement regulations to protect patients and promote the growth of the industry.
Medical tourism is a growing industry that provides opportunities for patients and healthcare providers around the world. Affordable healthcare, access to advanced medical treatments, and reduced waiting times are among the reasons medical tourism is anticipated to thrive in 2023. While the industry has its challenges, successful medical tourism destinations such as Thailand, India, and Mexico provide examples of how to attract medical tourists and provide high-quality medical treatments. As the industry grows, it will be important for healthcare providers and governments to focus on ensuring the safety and well-being of patients and promoting the growth of the industry.