Key Drivers in the Growth of Medical Tourism
Medical tourism is a direct result of globalization of health care. This health care sector is emerging up in vigorous speed. But this rapid development is the result of interplay of several factors which are not clearly known. There are several questions tagged along with this rapid development, such as – Why do patients travel abroad for medical care? What are the key factors responsible for the development of this industry?
The Five “A” Factors
Primarily the success of this industry can be attributed to the following five-“A” factors. They are affordability, accessibility, availability, acceptability and additional factors.
Affordability- If the medical procedures are becoming so unaffordable, then it is very difficult for a financially average person to opt for such treatments. People feel that bearing medical disorders is one big discomfort but treating it is more unbearable because of the rising price. This situation is more prevalent in developed countries. Millions of uninsured patients look for affordable treatments; this search was fulfilled with the growing popularity of medical tourism. Providing affordable treatment was the major key factor that guided the way to rapid development of medical tourism.
One more reason for patients to travel so far for a medical treatment is the non-availability of the required medical procedure in one’s own country. This type of travel is called “need factor travel” where a person goes in search of his needs for better health care.
Anything available is worth, only when it is accessible to the needy. Similarly, many developed countries have all medical care available for the people but because of high demand the treatments are not accessible. This high demand makes patients to wait for almost 6-12 months for a surgery. Waiting for such long period in case of emergency may prove fatal; therefore, people look for places where the treatment is available and accessible with no waiting time.
At times the decision of travelling abroad might be very sensitive as it is related with lots of religious, social, ethical and political issues. Finding an affordable, available and accessible treatment might be easy but acceptance based on religious, ethical and social concern is very difficult. Defining the ethical values of such services is very difficult.
It’s quite natural that everybody seeking medical treatment abroad expects the best quality of service. The most important factor of all the above said is receiving additional benefits like better care, latest medicines, modern technology, better hospitality, personalized care. This additional benefit which a patient receives abroad makes his choice of medical tourism very easy.
The above said “A” factors actually encourages and drives people in seeking medical treatments abroad. Similarly, the five key drivers which drive medical tourism to reach its height are
Other growth factors
There are others factors too that have facilitated growth of medical tourism and are responsible for the present popularity of this industry.
Growth of any industry depends on its technological development. Medical tourism is no exception to this, as a quality and standard medical procedure can be delivered effectively through latest technological developments. This also includes global transportation and communication systems. World has come closer together with internet, technologies in medical industry are improving the quality of service.
Cost- People in developed countries have all advanced medical facilities but the cost of treatment is extremely high. Patients with no health insurance or whose insurance policy does not cover medical needs are facing problem as the care and attention of health industries are shifting to those with health insurance resulting in “cost shifting”.
Need is another driving factor, without which a search is impossible. The emergency needs of patients like avoiding the long waiting lists, looking for the best treatment at affordable cost necessitates new solutions which are not available in one’s own country. This need drive patients to opt for medical travel.
Change- Change towards progression is always exciting, based on this concept, the hospital management catering to medical tourism has brought about many changes. They are adopting the concept of providing a luxurious and comfortable stay place for the patients rather than the usual unexciting general wards. After treatment, the patients can also make use of the tourism facility which is certainly a better change for patient. This change of environment and an exciting tour helps in recovering much earlier.
Aging population due to baby boomers cause a significant strain on the health care system of the nation, these demographic drivers also drive patients to seek help in other countries.