Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Medical tourism and globalization

Today I briefly mentioned the term Medical Tourism while speaking on the private hospitals of India.
Medical Tourism (also called medical travel, health tourism or global health care) is a term that describes the growing market of international travel for health related procedures, therapies, and surgeries. The rising costs of treatments, especially in USA, encourage people to use the global village while shopping around for better prices.
This is a rapidly expanding market and facilities with 5 star amenities are constructed in countries like India, Thailand, and many other destinations. Many combine a vacation with the procedure.

The history of Medical Tourism is ancient and evidence for long journeys for healing abound. In Greek times many traveled to the sanctuary of the healing god Asklepios. Many more travel to distant sights of mineral springs, or steaming caves all in the search for help.
This phenomenon worries many in the US and puts further strain on failing health care systems around the world.

For a story on Medical Tourism in the Time. And another.
One of the most important books on globalization is "The World is Flat" by Thoma Friedman. Medical tourism is truly a phenomenon of the flattening of the world (and of some noses in plastic surgery).

In a world that ships melons over oceans, what is another hip surgery?
For an ABC video about medical tourism to India.


  1. I am surprised JCAHO is accrediting foreign hospitals. I think it's shameful that patients should have to travel more than an hour (arbitrary) to get a needed surgical operation. This only punctuates the need for broader coverage and lower co-pays in the states.

  2. Medical tourism is growing fast and there are many factors behind it such as costs of health care, large waiting lists in hospitals, large numbers of uninsured people who are choosing to have less expensive procedures performed in Asian countries, patients returning for follow up treatment based on the success of the procedure, the lures of low cost quality medical care and the added benefit of a holiday, the lure of visiting different countries and much more. Read this article to know more Asia’s Medical Tourism Market

  3. There are no easy solutions for fixing US Healthcare. What people find in medical travel to other countries are alternatives solutions for affordable quality procedures and facilities. With reputable medical tourism company such as WorldMed Assist helping patients find high quality and affordable care abroad, it made medical travel to other countries that much easier. Another motivator for medical travel is to have procedures done that either aren't approved in the U.S. like two-level cervical disk replacement (whereas only single-level is approved in the US) or procedures that were just recently approved (like Hip Resurfacing - approved in the US only in 2006) where US surgeons don't have anywhere near the experience of their counterparts in certain countries.