Medical tourism is a popular trend that has come about due to advances in the field of medical technology, growing number of patients and high level of expertise in the medical field. Simply explained, people travelling from their home country to another country with the intention to secure medical treatment, which might not be available in their homeland, is known as medical tourism. Segments such as cosmetic surgery, dental care, fertility treatment, cardiology and cardiac surgery are the key promoters of medical tourism. Medical tourism has made it easy for patients to travel to other countries and get much-needed medical treatment and undergo surgeries. On the other hand, this does have some disadvantages such as low quality medical treatment. Also people from developed and advanced economies travel to emerging nations, thus affecting the revenue generation in their respective nation, for instance approximately 1 million Americans travelled outside the US for medical treatment in 2014
Medical tourism is rapidly gaining popularity in Asian countries owing to features such as reasonable cost of medical treatments and surgery, advanced medical technology, hospitality services, medical professionals and expertise, qualified doctors and nurses, favourable currency exchange rate etc. Trusted international accreditation and high quality medical services in low prices are the key drivers of medical tourism. Patients traveling abroad for medical tourism can save 30 % to 90%. As a result, the demand for medical tourism is expected to witness exponential growth over the forecast period. However, there could be restrains along with the growth drivers such as unprofessional conduct or false medical practices, inadequate additional medical care etc.
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The medical tourism market is segmented on the basis of types of medical treatment provided and on the basis of geography. On the basis of types of treatment it is segmented into cosmetic treatment, cardiovascular treatment, fertility treatment, dental treatment, orthopaedic treatment and other general treatments. On the basis of geography, the market has been segmented into Asia pacific, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, North America, and South America
The major markets having the appreciation for medical tourism consist of Asia pacific, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, North America, and South America. Top destinations for medical tourism are Costa Rica, India, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and United States. The growing popularity of medical tourism has also proved beneficial for the tourism industry. For instance, Thailand in the Asia region is a very popular country for medical as well as regular tourism.
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The key players in the medical tourism industry are Prince Court Medical centre Malaysia, Gleneagles Hospital Singapore, Clemenceau Medical centre Lebanon, Bumrungrad International Hospital Thailand, Fortis Hospital India, Wooridul Spine Hospital Korea, Anadolu Medical Centre Turkey and Asklepios Klinik Barmbek Germany.
The strategies used by these companies are, provision of exceptional surgical options, optimum comfort level to the patients, clinical information, educational articles, expertise and specialist medical services, best quality and safety services, provision of medical treatments in affordable prices, creation of strong brand equity to gain competitive advantages. These companies also adopt strategies such as collaborations, affiliations and joint ventures to expand their business. For instance, collaboration between Bumrungrad International Hospital, Bangkok, and IBM Watson to improve the quality of cancer care, collaboration of Anadolu Medical Center with John Hopkins Medicine, affiliation of Bangkok Hospital with Amari Residences Bangkok Hotel, joint venture of health berg medical consultancy and health tourism Pvt. Ltd.
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These major key players in the medical tourism market offer various medical services such as medical treatment for gastrointestinal diseases, In vitro fertilization, orthopaedics, kidney diseases, cancers, interventional cardiology, bio-compatible artificial joints, plastic surgery, pulmonology, joint replacement and many more. However, dental care, cardiology general surgery, urology, women’s health care services, neurology, organ transplants, plastic surgery and orthopaedic surgery are very widely offered services in medical tourism.