Much has been written about medical tourism – millions of people flying from country A to country B for cheap medical treatment
Everyone thinks they know the top destinations, reasons for traveling, and the current direction. These ‘facts’ are repeated every time a journalist discovers medical tourism, or when people are trying to sell their conferences or consultancy services, or politicians seek to justify a plan.
Few of these ‘ facts’ are now accurate as medical tourism has settled in certain patterns and is going in new directions. Few of the countries regularly claimed as market leaders are now the top ones.
Some of the most successful countries are the least noisy, and often not dependent on the myth of huge cost savings.
The reality is very interesting:
– Most business is regional or even within a country.
– Many medical tourists do not seek out the cheapest destination.
– The top 3 European destinations are also the most expensive ones.
– The USA sees as many inbound medical tourists as outbound.
– Much medical tourism is for cosmetic, fertility, or dental treatment.
India was one of the first countries to recognize the potential of medical tourism and today is the leading destination for global medical tourists. India holds more than 20% of medical tourist arrivals share and market share in Asia for the year 2011. From the year 2009 to 2011 the number of medical tourists in India has grown by 30%. It is estimated that by the year 2015, India will receive nearly half a million medical tourists annually. India is a popular destination for medical tourists across the globe because of its infrastructure and technology is on par with western. India is having a double-digit number of Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited hospitals.
Singapore is one of the top medical tourism spots in the world. Singapore medical facilities are considered to be the best in Asia but its treatment cost are a bit costlier compared to its competitors.
This tiny island is home to several world-class medical facilities that specialize in every major medical treatment available. In 2011 Singapore was holding nearly 30% medical tourism market in Asia. Singapore’s medical tourist arrivals are expected to be more than 1 Million by 2015. Singapore became the first nation in Asia to have the first “MAGNET” recognized hospital.
Thailand is the leader in medical tourist arrivals holding more than 40% share in Asia medical tourist arrivals in 2011. Its medical tourism market was around US$ 2 Billion in 2011 and it is expected to be more than double by 2015. Thailand has world-class medical facilities with its high-profile private hospitals and clinics. Thailand has been one of the favorite medical tourism destinations all over the world. This may be primarily due to cultural heritage, state-of-the-art medical facilities, personalized hospitality, and reasonable medical costs. The country takes pride in having the first hospital to receive the first JCI accreditation in Asia. It has the highest number of JCI accredited hospitals in Asia.
The number of foreign patients visiting Korea has increased from ~ in 2009 to ~ in 2010, indicating an increase of ~%. The revenue from foreign patients has increased by nearly two-fold to USD ~ million in 2010 from USD ~ million in 2009. Foreign patients have increased over the years primarily because of the promotional campaigns being adopted by the government. The influx of foreign patients has increased from ~ in 2006 to ~ in 2007 and ~ in 2008.
Out of the total foreign patients visited in South Korea, Seoul with ~ received the maximum number of foreign patients followed by Gyeonggi with ~ patients and Daegu with ~. It is worthwhile to note the number of foreign patients was more in Daegu (~) as compared to Busan (~) and Incheon (~) which posses a better infrastructure than Daegu.
Malaysia’s medical tourism industry has witnessed an astounding growth in the recent past. From 2001 to 2006, the number of foreign patients seeking healthcare services in Malaysia became ~ times from ~ patients to ~ patients. The large volume of patients in 2006 generated nearly USD ~ million in revenue. In 2008, the revenue per patient had grown to USD ~. In 2010, the revenue per patient has risen and reached in the range of USD ~ to USD ~. The medical patients visit Malaysia for the treatment of dental treatment, aesthetics, and optometry and for much other treatment but most of the patients visit Malaysia for cardiovascular and orthopedic treatment. Most of the patients are middle-aged people who visit Malaysia in order to save money on the treatment.