What is Medical Tourism: Types, Benefits, Challenges & Popular Destinations
Medical tourism is when an individual travels abroad for medical treatment. But, this phrase originally refers to patients travelling to developed countries from less developed ones in search of treatments not offered in their native country. However, this idea has now evolved, and people travel to seek alternative and affordable medical treatments.
What Are the Types of Medical Tourism?
Medical tourism has emerged as the latest concept in the tourism industry, and there are two types of it. Those include:
- Domestic Medical Tourism: Domestic medical tourism is when individuals travel to a different city, region, or state within the country for medical care. It helps them receive equal or better care than they would have received in their home city. Above all, patients choose to travel for medical care due to affordability, better access to care, or a higher standard of care.
- Inbound Medical Tourism: Inbound medical tourism describes visitors who arrive from outside the country. They travel from a foreign country to enter the host country and get medical help.
- Outbound Medical Tourism: Outbound medical tourism refers to visitors who are visiting another country from their country of origin. They aim to get better medical assistance in a different country if they fail to find the same in their country of origin.
What Are the Reasons for Medical Tourism?
The price of medical treatments provided by medical tourism destinations is one of the key factors contributing to its growing popularity. When compared to similar procedures in developing nations, medical procedures in developed countries can be more expensive.
In some circumstances, patients who go outside their nation can save up to 80% on medical expenses. Therefore, a higher fee is the primary factor driving patients to consider medical tourism a feasible choice for medical care.
2. Quality Healthcare
In most cases receiving high-quality healthcare is one of the top concerns of individuals seeking medical travel.
Generally, medical tourism is when people who reside in one country travel to another country to receive medical, dental, and surgical care. This is primarily done to receive equal or greater care than they would have in their own country. In addition to affordability, individuals also seek better access to care or a higher level of care quality.
3. Negligible Waiting Time
In order to avoid long wait times, patients who require urgent medical attention frequently choose to go outside their own country. This is because medical tourism offers a much quicker approach to receiving the required care.
For instance, it enables cardiac patients to receive high-quality medical care while performing their operations at a lower cost and with reduced wait periods. In many other situations, patients can start receiving treatment just a few days after landing in a foreign country, which is much quicker than the protracted wait times in the majority of developed nations.
4. Access to Advanced Technology
Hospitals and clinics catering to medical tourists frequently stand at the cutting edge of emerging medical technology. This implies that you can access the most advanced medical techniques and procedures.
Additionally, medical tourism is a fantastic alternative if you want to obtain the best care possible from highly qualified medical staff who follow established protocols.
5. Seeking Alternative Treatments
Patients who are unhappy with their current treatment or procedure offered in their country may need to travel overseas to receive an alternative. Depending on your need, you can undergo a variety of treatments. Also, you will probably be able to locate a location that offers standardised medical services with experts, whether you need surgery, dental treatment, or fertility treatment.
For example, if you arrive in India for health and medical tourism, you can seek treatments such as Ayurveda, Yoga etc., which can be fruitful for you.
6. Access to Specialists
Medical tourism may provide you with access to some of the most experienced doctors in the world if you are looking for treatment from highly skilled specialists. This implies that a patient travelling for health reasons won't have to wait months for an appointment to receive the treatment they need.
7. Opportunity to Explore
An additional benefit of medical tourism is the chance to explore different places. Numerous medical tourism facilities also provide tours and other activities to make your time away from home more enjoyable.
Furthermore, medical tourism also combines travel with medical care. For example, patients who have major surgery can recuperate more rapidly in a better setting with a pleasant atmosphere. Therefore, in addition to receiving medical care, medical tourists also travel after treatment.
What Are the Benefits of Medical Tourism?
In the travel and tourism sector, medical and wellness tourism is a fairly new concept, and it is also essential to the tourism industry. Every year, a sizable number of people travel to a foreign destination for medical needs. Regardless, the importance of medical tourism includes the:
- Supports economic development
- Creates more medical jobs
- Creates more healthcare and medical facilities
- Improves the quality of life for patients seeking medical help
- Enhances global healthcare standards
- Allows knowledge exchange
- Allows participation in global healthcare
- Provides access to the latest technology in the healthcare sector
- Political Benefits
- Social Benefits
- Economic Benefits
What Are the Challenges of Medical Tourism?
A few of the challenges of wellness and health tourism include the following:
1. Lack of Infrastructure
Several developing nations experience infrastructure-related issues with medical services. For instance, there are issues with adequate water and electricity supply, inadequate hospital hygiene, including unclean surroundings, messy employees, and subpar food and lodging.
Besides this, there are issues such as bad air connectivity to support the country's influx of patients.
2. Brain Drain
Retaining these professionals is extremely difficult in nations with a wealth of competent medical personnel. Since there is a global shortage of these skilled workers, they are frequently given the highest pay abroad. As a result, due to a lack of chances at home, brain drain occurs.
3. Language Barriers
Language limitations can be a significant obstacle in medical tourism. Although this might not be a major issue in countries like India, it can still be a problem in other countries.
This is because, even if the nation may have highly skilled medical professionals and cutting-edge medical systems, the procedure will be very challenging if they do not speak the patient's language. As a result, demand is also impacted by linguistic and cultural obstacles.
4. Lack of Professionalism
A majority of medical personnel in developing nations might lack professionalism and certain behavioural traits. For example, soft skills in the medical workforce, like warmth, concern, and friendliness, need to be practised more.
Also, some additional professional abilities, like interpersonal skills, loyalty, and attractiveness, still need improvement, which might have a negative impact on how well clients are served.
5. Legal Problems
Legal disparities across nations are one of the major issues with medical tourism. Also, there are no uniform regulations, and most countries have lax legislation against medical malpractice. This gives patients fewer opportunities to defend their rights if they are taken advantage of or if something goes wrong throughout the entire course of their treatment.
6. Problems in Promotion
A few experience issues with medical tourism promotion. The accreditation and regulation of hospitals and other medical care providers are not up to par. In addition, the lack of uniform pricing and service standards are barriers to gaining clients' trust in the provided services.
What Are the Things to Consider in Medical Tourism?
1. Passports and Visas
You should constantly access your passport and carry some extra foreign currency for unforeseen expenses. Also, check and thoroughly read the passport regulations of the concerned country.
In this regard, you should note that some nations need visas in addition to passports for visitors. So, always check with the embassy to determine if this is necessary before travelling to that nation.
2. Medical Documents
Medical paperwork and records should be at the top of your list of items to carry. Also, always have multiple copies of important documents in different suitcases just to be safe in case your luggage is lost.
Before stepping into a foreign land, ensure to convert money to a reputable company in your hometown for the best rates. Also, you can exchange at your destination, but that way, your rates might be higher.
4. After Care Products
To save money and ensure your comfort, make a plan in advance. Also, pack gauze, wound dressings, band-aids, scissors, and over-the-counter drugs, depending on the treatment and the nation you're visiting.
It is challenging to predict what supplies a hospital or care facility in another nation will have on hand. Hence, while aspirin and other medicines might be easy to come by in your hometown, they might be far more difficult to locate there.
6. Insect Repellent
When you are travelling abroad, remember to bring mosquito repellent. Although most destinations maintain an adequate amount of hygiene, carrying an insect repellent can be helpful. This is because some of the illnesses conveyed by insects have the potential to be fatal.
7. Comfortable Clothing
You must pack comfortable clothing for your medical trip. It is best to be ready for anything because of how unpredictable the weather can be. Also, after your treatment, going shopping won't be something you'll feel like doing. So, pack loose attire that is appropriate for a hospital environment.
8. Emergency Information
Before you travel, ensure you have the names, essential phone numbers, and addresses of the hospital, hotel, and any other crucial locations of all your doctors. Moreover, you can always show them the address and ask for assistance in countries where language is a barrier. One quick tip is to have everything recorded in a notebook that is simple to find.
9. Comforts From Home
You can pack bed linens, slippers, and pillows for medical tourism. This way, you won't need to rely on the hotel or the country you are visiting because you will have the conveniences of home. In fact, if you don't take extra precautions to look after yourself, you can be in for a huge surprise, given the differences in customs and what is regarded as sufficient by another country's norms.
What Are the Popular Treatment Destinations for Medical Tourism?
A few of the popular treatment destinations in the world include:
- The United Kingdom
- Costa Rica
- Abu Dhabi
As the cost of medical procedures rises and it becomes more and meeting expenses becomes challenging, medical tourism provides many individuals with an affordable option for healthcare. However, while traveling for a medical procedure has multiple benefits, you must be attentive in a different country and understand their policies, rules and regulations.