The medical tourism market is defined by patients travelling abroad to seek surgical or medical assistance for quality treatment available overseas. The market is at a growth stage and is expected to grow further over the forecast period buoyed by factors such as quality of healthcare offered at optimal cost, expert healthcare practitioners, and customized approach in providing end-to-end services including support in obtaining a medical visa to arranging patients’ stay. In addition, prevailing cost of medical services in patients’ home-country, availability of advanced healthcare treatment facility, and legal restrictions on a few medical practices such as fertility processes in home country are adding to the growth of medical tourism market. In addition, increase in campaign and marketing of medical facilities to endorse medical tourism and presence of international health insurance is expected to boost the market over the forecast period. Presence of cashless facility and wide number of hospital under insurance coverage are also expected to provide opportunities for market growth. Medical tourism and international accreditation continue to play a vital role in patient inflow into destination countries boosting medical tourism. The number of accredited facilities is rising year-on-year giving international exposure to hospitals, indirectly linking medical tourism successfully.
Improving healthcare infrastructure, presence of favorable government policies, and presence of quality healthcare service at lower price is propelling the market in the Asia Pacific region. Among the various countries in Asia Pacific, India is increasingly becoming a medical tourism hub as the country offers cost advantage, has quality hospitals and skilled doctors, and favorable medical visa policies. For instance, India’s e-medical visa facility permits three medical visits to patients in the country. The country also offers medical visa for follow up treatment. Dental tourism and cosmetic surgeries are among the leading sectors for medical tourism in India. Major inflow of patients in India are from countries such as UAE, Middle East, Africa, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait, and Mauritius. Besides India, Thailand secures prime spot in medical tourism market. Malaysia is another prominent destination amongst medically sophisticated infrastructure led nations. Economically affordable treatments lay the road for Malaysia to be one of the most forward-looking nations in medical tourism market.
Technology leverage to bring in innovation in healthcare has also added to the growth of the market. Technology usage including cloud computing and web 2.0 has spurred growth in the market. Cloud computing is largely being leveraged for keeping and sharing electronic medical records. Leveraging cloud computing, electronic medical record (EMR) can be made available universally to healthcare service providers. All healthcare tourism service providers and healthcare practitioners can access the same medical record on a real-time basis. Besides bringing efficiency in the process, EMR decreases extra diagnosis and medication errors and brings efficacy in healthcare systems.
Some of the popular hospital chains active in the market include Apollo Hospitals, Asian Heart Institute and Research Centre, Fortis Healthcare, Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital, NTT Medical Center Tokyo, KPJ Healthcare Berhad, Seoul National University Hospital, Raffles Medical Group, Prince Court Medical Centre, Barbados Fertility Centre, Bangkok Hospital Medical Center, Min-Sheng General Hospital are the leading healthcare tourism provider.
Research Support Specialist, USA