Medical Tourism can be defined as the provision for patients to travel offshore in search of faster, cost-effective and safer medical and surgical procedures. A combination of various different factors have led many people from industrialized countries to migrate in order to get high quality medical treatment. The various reasons are the cost issues, ease and affordability of international travel, long frustrating queues in many nations and above all improving technology standards of health care in many countries of the world. Both the health sector and the tourism industry help to facilitate the process in these countries.
The concept of medical tourism actually traces back to ancient Greece, where pilgrims and patients from all over the Mediterranean came to the sanctuary of healing god, Asklepios, at Epidaurus. In the 18th century the wealthy Europeans from Germany traveled to the Mediterranean spas. The 21st century has taken the medical tourism industry beyond the wealthy and the desperate providing low cost treatment and transportation services. The leisure, fun and relaxation together with health care attached to it have made medical tourism a common form of vacation.
Medical tourism presents an opportunity for hospitals to tap the potential of the international healthcare market and eventually leverage their business. The advancement of medical technology, increased transportation facilities and necessity of immediate quality healthcare has encouraged the healthcare providers to go global. Medical tourists travel great distances to seek world-class doctors and hospitals. The healthcare providers worldwide are investing to acquire the cutting edge technology and venture into the areas of latest medical research. They even provide lucrative non-medical services such as hospitality services, spa facilities, and pick-up services to facilitate the stay and treatment of their international clientele.
One major reason that medical tourism is attractive to many people is that it offers medical treatments at a comparatively low cost. Moreover the public healthcare systems in developed countries are very much overburdened and traveling to foreign land for immediate treatment is often a solution to the problem. Medical tourism is popular and generally accepted because it provides the patients with medical assistance accompanied by five-star treatment and exclusive vacations. Thailand and India are among the emerging popular spots for medical tourism. The Government of of these nations have successfully exerted their leadership to assist in the development of the medical tourism industry.
India is one of the leading players in the medical tourism industry today. Cosmetic surgery and dental treatments is usually what the medical tourists have been looking for, but recent studies reveal even eye surgery, kidney dialysis and organ transplantation are among the most common procedures sought by medical vacationers. In particular, India excels in open-heart surgery, pediatric heart surgery, bone marrow transplants and cancer therapy. The hospitals are equipped with the latest electronic and medical diagnostic equipment. Pharmaceuticals too meet the stringent requirements of U.S. Food and Drug Administration and even qualify for the American standards for quality of care.
Marketing one’s facilities with informative websites on medical tourism, outlining the transparent pricing schemes and availability of latest medical accoutrements are the trend of the day. As more and more patients from affluent nations look for effective options offshore, the medical tourism industry has been expanding at a fast pace. Developments will of course lead to various other economic activities where the main element will always remain quality.