Medical tourism or health tourism refers to traveling abroad to a foreign nation for the purpose of seeking healthcare services. The activities are not restricted to only surgical intervention and may involve medical check-ups, and other practices that require skilled medical interventions. The global medical tourism market is growing at a steady pace and it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 21.4% during the forecasted period 2017-2023. According to OECD estimates, nearly 50 million medical tourists travelled to the emerging nations in 2016.
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Key Players in the Global Medical Tourism Market
Some of the key players in this market are Asklepios Kliniken Verwaltungs gesellschaft mbH (Germany), Fortis Healthcare (India), Gleneagles Global Hospitals Group. (India), Prince Court Medical Centre (Malaysia), Samitivej PCL (Thailand), Christus Muguerza (Mexico), Anadolu Medical Center (Turkey), and others.
The Medical tourism market is been driven by factors such as rising geriatric population, high cost of treatment in developed countries, availability of cost-effective and quality treatments in developing countries, development of effective travel especially air travel, assistance from tourism departments and local governments, availability and spread of latest medical technologies throughout the world, high penetration of health insurance, development of communication technology, and others. The rise of in-vitro fertilization, surrogacy, retro-production has also stimulated the market. International accreditation is a key factor boosting international medical tourism. Currently, over 600 health facilities in the world are accredited by the U.S. Joint Commission International (JCI), which is growing by 20% each year.
The market restraints are limited coverage and insufficient reimbursement offered by insurance companies, difficulties associated with cross border travel, such as cultural barriers, connectivity issues, documentation, and VISA approval issues, and others.
Segments of the Global Medical Tourism Market
Medical tourism market has been segmented on the basis of treatment types, which comprises of orthopedic/spine treatments, oncology/cancer treatments, cosmetic treatments, cardiovascular/cardiology treatments, dental treatments, neurology/neurosurgery treatments, fertility/IVF treatments, and others.
This treatment may include a wide array of medical services; however, the most frequently availed services include cancer treatment, orthopedic treatment, neurological disease treatment, elective surgery, fertility treatment, and others.
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Medical Tourism Index ranks Canada, U.K. Israel, and Singapore as the key destinations. Globalization has led to a huge impact on the market for medical tourism as can be witnessed by the dominance of Asia Pacific. Asia Pacific is home to many emerging economies of the world. The Asia Pacific region accounted for the largest share of the global medical tourism market, of greater than 40% in 2016. This growth is attributed to infrastructure development, rising economy, technology up gradation of health facilities, low cost and quality medical services, and government initiative to promote medical tourism in this region. Asia Pacific market was led by Malaysia, Taiwan, India, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. The rise of x-soviet economies is the hallmark of medical tourism in the European continent. Countries such as Ukraine, Poland, and Slovakia have leveraged their healthcare systems for medical tourism.
Americas holds the second position in the medical tourism, followed by Europe. Central and South American countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Cuba and Ecuador are popular destinations for medical tourists. The South American nations have specialised in cosmetic surgery and includes destinations such as Brazil, Argentina and others. According to Patients Beyond Borders, global medical tourism market grew at CAGR rate of 15% to 25% and Mexico was predicted to the fastest growing market. The Middle East and Africa have poor market owing to poorly developed healthcare sector and socio-economic development. Israel and Jordan are the best destinations for medical tourism in Middle East and Africa.
The global medical tourism market is likely to witness a flurry of branding activities as marketing has a large effect on the return on investment. Many destinations have specialised in specific segments. For example, India, Thailand, and Singapore are renowned for specialist cardiac surgeries, cosmetic surgery and complicated surgical procedures respectively. Malaysia offers state-of-the-art medical infrastructure and is anticipated to acquire one of the top market positions in the global medical tourism market, during the forecast period.
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Mergers, acquisitions, affiliations, and joint ventures for delivering enhanced medical care, is an attractive strategy that is being pursued by many players. These mergers result in increased buying power for the players leading to economies of scale. The cost saving due to the economies of scale help to sustain the intense competition resulting in higher returns on investment. It also strengthens the market positions. Examples of collaborations include Bumrungrad International Hospital (Bangkok) and IBM Watson for better cancer care, and the collaboration of Anadolu Medical Centre (Turkey) with Johns Hopkins Medicine (U.S.).
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