Growth of the Medical Tourism Industry

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April 11th, 2013

medical tourismThe Medical Tourism industry is growing at an exponential rate.  Healthcare consumers are more invested in their care and are willing to travel in search of greater healthcare options, better quality and lower costs.

Health consumers are traveling abroad for a variety of reasons: lower costs, to avoid long waits at home, or to have a procedure done not available in their country.  Hospitals and medical practices are targeting consumers by promoting the massive savings their facility can offer.  Even medical schools and teaching hospitals are tapping into the market.  With shrinking reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid, the potential to increase income through foreign money is attractive to facilities that want to sustain their research, education and patient care.

One recent study analyzed 400 clinics, hospitals and medical tourism facilitators in 77 countries, with 60% of respondents reporting growth in the past year.  What’s more, 80% of respondents said they expected the number of international patients to grow in the next year and 49% anticipated a 10% annual growth over the next 5 years.  The medical tourism market is stated to be worth $40 to $60 billion, growing at about 20% per year.

The top treatments consumers travel abroad to receive are cosmetic surgery, dental work, cancer treatment, and infertility treatments. Other services consumers travel for are cardiac surgery, orthopedic surgery, bariatric surgery, organ/cell/tissue transplants and eye surgery. The United States, Thailand and Singapore are cited as the leading destinations for medical tourism when considering quality and variety of services offered. The leading sources of international patients come from the UK, the US and Russia.

This fast-growing medical tourism market is still largely untapped by traditional travel markets and medical communities. There is great potential for struggling medical to take advantage of this trend to serve a new group of customers through medical tourism. By building a reputation for a particular specialty and targeting international consumers, these facilities can have a positive impact on their economic situation.