The development of the health tourism industry is a much talked-about and worked-on subject nowadays. The term industry is not randomly picked as there is a clear tendency that health tourism may grow into an industry judging by its significance and the profit it generates. Over 50 countries have identified medical tourism as a national industry. This subject has been in focus for the past several years and it is a trend in the continued development of healthcare, medicine and pharmaceuticals, including tourism in general too.
Medical tourism (also called medical travel, health tourism or global healthcare) is a term initially coined by travel agencies and the mass media to describe the rapidly-growing practice of travelling across international borders to obtain health care.
Services typically sought by travelers include elective procedures as well as complex specialized surgeries such as joint replacement (knee/hip), cardiac surgery, dental surgery, and cosmetic surgeries. However, virtually every type of health care, including psychiatry, alternative treatments, convalescent care and even burial services are available.
Therefore, there are parts of medical tourism such as: Dental Tourism, Cosmetic Surgery, Alternative Medicine, Health Spas Tourism and Wellness Tourism. Medicine travelers are going to specific destination where they obtain health care which is on higher level quality or more financially available than in their country. So, when they go in specific country for medical service, they are interested to see local sights, to know local culture and gastronomy. They have all general characteristics of leisure tourists.
A series of conferences are organized on Health Tourism at the local and regional levels and at the international level alike. One of them is the Fifth Annual World Health Tourism Congress held in Africa from 7-9th October this year.
The next streams highlight various subject matters within the healthcare tourism industry:
- Trends and strategies in healthcare tourism and how well the health and tourism industry are co-operating to create a positive impact on the healthcare tourism’s growth.
- Healthcare Tourism – the Government’s Role. What is the government’s role in nurturing and promoting the nation’s healthcare tourism industry?
- Leveraging e-Health to Promote Patient Services – importance of technology and how far advanced the service providers are in terms of web-based healthcare towards promoting patient services within the healthcare industry.
- Stem-Cell Medical Tourism – Are We Prepared?
One of the great advancements in the medical industry are Stem-Cell. There are discussions which includes understanding ethics concerning the use of stem cell, regulatory hurdles and its contribution towards promoting medical tourism.
- Healthcare Tourism Marketing
New marketing strategies, based on emerging targeted customers must be developed to capitalise this globally competitive industry.
- Healthcare Tourism Management
Apart from providing world-class healthcare services, patients must also be guaranteed of quality and safer healthcare. Healthcare industry also contributes to the well-being of its community by developing successful CSR strategies to achieve sustainable competitive advantage.
- Traditional and Complementary Medicine (T&CM) and Wellness
TCM, Ayurvedic and Wellness and Spa Travel are gaining popularity whereby patients have wider options in seeking treatment which not necessarily involve medications. Besides western medication, patients also have various options of seeking treatment and rejuvenating. This, of course, includes travelling for wellness, spa and also treatment in the form of ayurvedic*.
* Ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to the Indian subcontinent and practiced in other parts of the world as a form of alternative medicine