Medical tourism, also called health tourism, is defined as travelling outside your country of residence for the purpose of receiving medical care. The rapid growth of medical tourism’s popularity has garnered the attention of policy makers, researchers, and the media. It used to be just people from less fortunate countries who travelled to more developed nations to receive medical care they couldn’t get from their own countries. Now, we are seeing people traveling from richer nations to access health services. The main reasons are lower costs and easier access to treatment. In the U.S. and Canada, the wait list for elective surgeries can be longer than a year. The relatively low cost of flights have made it much easier to travel. What really makes it “tourism” is the fact that many travelers will stay in the country after their medical procedures. They take advantage of their visit by sightseeing and taking day trips.
Medical tourism represents a multi-billion dollar phenomenon that spreads across the entire globe and it is expected to grow significantly within the next decade. Many insurance companies are starting to view medical tourism as a way to lower the incredible soaring costs of medical care in developed countries. The reason that hospitals in poorer countries are able to keep such low prices is dependent on their economies and status.
However, the major concern of medical tourism is the quality of care in those developing countries. The service quality in this industry is a vital part of attracting so many customers. The perception of inadequate quality is a barrier for a lot of people looking for lower priced medical care. Confidence in health care systems is a dire need. The key to overcoming this is using adequate marketing strategies and quality assessment via accreditation from an internationally recognized institute.