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The practice of travelling outside of one’s home country to receive medical care is known as medical tourism. Media, researchers, and policymakers are all paying attention to the rise in medical tourism. The phrase originally described patients who travelled to developed countries from less developed ones in search of treatments that weren’t available to them there.
As people move from wealthier to less developed nations to access healthcare, patient mobility is changing both qualitatively and quantitatively today. The relative affordability of treatments in less developed countries, the accessibility of cheap flights, and increased marketing and online consumer information about the availability of medical services all contribute to this shift.
People frequently stay in the foreign countries after receiving medical treatment, which is what really puts the word “tourism” in medical tourism. Thus, visitors can make the most of their stay by going sightseeing, going on day trips, or engaging in any other traditional tourist activities.
The primary factor in developing countries’ ability to reduce prices for clinics and hospitals is that country’s economic standing. One can observe a direct correlation between income levels and the nation’s per capita gross domestic product. Due to this, countries that encourage medical tourism have surgery costs that are 30% to 70% lower.
Technical or mechanical quality and serviceable or functional quality are the two main determinants of service quality in the healthcare industry. Patients’ diagnostic algorithms are based on technical equipment, and the level of functional quality is determined by the services provided by healthcare facilities (such as the services of staff, nurses and, most importantly, the doctors towards the patient and their assistants). A key factor in luring customers to the medical tourism sector is the level of service provided.
The general consensus that the standard of care provided by overseas medical facilities is subpar is one of the most significant obstacles to the expansion of medical tourism. Utilizing effective marketing strategies and evaluating product quality through accreditation from a body that is acknowledged internationally is one of the most important aspects of the solution. Accreditation of this kind is absolutely necessary in order to bolster patients’ confidence in the level of care provided.
If accreditation is followed by affiliation with reputable hospitals or health care systems in industrialised countries, then this confidence can be strengthened even further. After receiving proper accreditation and becoming a member of international referral networks, healthcare providers can then be appropriately rated for the risks they pose.
The types of various treatments and their accessibility also play a significant role in the decision to use medical tourism. Elective cosmetic surgery, dental work, organ transplantation, cardiac surgery, and orthopaedic surgery are the most popular types of procedures that patients undergo while travelling for medical tourism.
However, a wide range of services, including various necessary treatments as well as various kinds of conventional and alternative treatments, can be acquired through medical tourism. Travelling abroad for in vitro fertilisation, surrogate pregnancies, and other forms of assisted reproductive technology is known as reproductive tourism, also known as reproductive outsourcing.
Access is a significant contributing factor in medical tourism growth in addition to cost. Medical tourism may then result from the absence of it, whether because the technology is unavailable or because it is illegal at home. Cytoplasmic transfer and stem cell therapy are typical examples.