Medical Service Providers and Development Plans

  June 23, 2022   Read time 2 min
Medical Service Providers and Development Plans
The breadth of medical tourism is growing only one step behind providers’ imaginations. Creative services that compete in novelty, quality, and relevance are popping up daily. International patients seek services ranging from surgery to massage, recuperation to exercise.

They purchase modern diagnostic medicine such as bone density tests as well as traditional healing such as acupuncture. They seek out Transplant Tourism that involves traveling to countries for the purposes of obtaining an organ. Pregnancy Tourism also takes place, as when women travel to give birth where their child can receive a coveted citizenship (such as the United States or Ireland). Orthodontal or Toothache Tourism happens for dental work, while Fasting Tourism is popular among the obese, and Science Tourism among the scientists. Detox tourism occurs when patients from Islamic countries have alcohol related problems: They seek to cure incognito. There is even Suicide Tourism, namely traveling to countries where liberal policies on euthanasia allow an ailing patient to choose their time of death.

In their study of health and tourism, Goodrich and Goodrich defi ne health-care tourism as “the attempt on the part of a tourist facility or destination to attract tourists by deliberately promoting its health-care services and facilities, in addition to its regular tourism amenities.” They studied some 24 mostly more developed countries and did not include complex medical procedures. So too Hunter-Jones, in her study of the role of holidays in managing cancer, distinguished between health tourism, spa tourism, health-care tourism, and wellness tourism, but did not include invasive, complex procedures. Henderson expanded the health care alternatives as per the following typology.
She divided health-care tourism into three categories: spas and alternative therapies (massage, yoga, beauty care, etc.), cosmetic surgery (and other nonessential medical procedures), and medical tourism (such as health screening, heart surgeries, joint replacements, cancer treatment). In this study, the classifi cation of services is different from Henderson’s insofar as it gives prominence to diagnostic services. This broadening is warranted given the reality of the mid-2000s consumer demand. Also, Henderson’s cosmetic surgery and medical tourism categories are spliced in this study. This is necessary to refl ect the fact that, while in the 1980s plastic surgery was the principal surgery sought abroad, in the twenty-fi rst century it no longer dominates the market.
Finally, in this study the preferred umbrella term for the entire industry is medical tourism rather than Henderson’s health-care tourism. This refl ects the growing encroachment of medicine even in spa and wellness services, an encroachment that might be perceived as a marketing tool, a trend, or even an egregious misuse of terms in order to lend credibility to a service. Whether justifi ed or not, the use of the word medical is real and this study responds to that reality.
Medical tourism services are studied below in the following categories: invasive, diagnostic, and lifestyle. There is no evidence of services sold to foreigners that are outside these categories as not all medical services are tradable (for example, Canadians do not travel to South Africa for the treatment of mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder). Moreover, some services must be consumed close to home, such as those demanded by patients physically unable to travel, or when emergency care is needed following an accident.

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