7 Key Medical Tourism Trends

Find out what factors are driving growth in this lucrative industry

June 19, 2019 Inga Louisa Stevens

UK-based healthcare data provider LaingBuisson has recently published a healthcare market report that takes a global view on medical travel and tourism. Based on studies of outbound and in-bound flows of people seeking treatment abroad, LaingBuisson estimates that the annual number of medical travellers worldwide amounts to 5.5 million and the value of medical travel expenditure is US$ 10-15 billion.

Opportunities

Medical travel has grown strongly during the 21st century. Cosmetic, fertility and dental treatments are among the most popular with medical travellers. The factors driving this upsurge in medical travel include the high cost of healthcare in industrialised nations; the ease and affordability of international travel; and improvements in technology and standards of care in many countries around the world.

Challenges

However, the report highlights that it is not a sector without controversy. Ethical issues arise around the sale of organs for donation in poorer countries. Also, there are questions around people returning home with infections or creating burden on their domestic health services owing to complications resulting from surgery overseas.

The annual number of medical travellers worldwide amounts to 5.5 million

Trends

Key medical tourism trends as outlined by LaingBuisson:

• The greater proportion of medical travel is regional or domestic within a country

• Many medical tourists do not seek out the cheapest destination


• The top three European destinations are also the most expensive ones


• Much medical tourism is for cosmetic, fertility or dental treatment

• There are more failed medical tourism projects than successes


• Many countries have stopped promoting medical tourism


• Many trade associations and medical tourism agencies have now disappeared