Is medical tourism experiencing a shift from 'have to' to 'want to'

 

I need to reiterate that I am a strong believer in, and a champion of medical travel, as evidenced by my continued investment of time, effort and money in the health tourism sector in general. Nevertheless, I continue to disagree with some of the medical travel purists and their thesis.

This thesis predicts and forecasts the continued growth (“in leaps and bounds”) of the “have to” version of medical travel. “Have to” because of cost or maybe “waiting times”. The proponents of this thesis are betting (and hoping) that the local or nearby healthcare providers cannot get their act together to bring down costs and prices and increase their efficiency (to reduce waiting times).

I strongly believe they are “brain blind” and wrong.

And contrary to the predictions of quite a few, economic recession does not necessarily provide a boost to medical tourism. In fact, we have seen the opposite happen.

From “have to” to “want to”

“Have to” medical travel has run its course. My bet is that local (or nearby) providers have received and digested the message and are getting their act together (in order to stem the outflow of patients). At the same time, I am betting that health consumers will still do health-related travel but that this will be because they want to (as opposed to “have to”).

Prepare to usher in the era of “want to”.

Industry-driven versus market-driven

For far too long, the medical travel Industry has been arrogantly telling consumers what they need to do. Now it is the turn of the market to tell the industry what consumers want to do.

And the industry needs to listen.

Consumers clearly prefer to do things because they want to… not because they have to. And this applies to medical travel.

 “Travel for Health” versus “Travel also for Health”

…and “tourism” as a dirty word?

My other “bet” is that more will be travelling “also for health” as opposed to “exclusively for health”… which is also one more reason that I prefer the term “tourism” to “travel”. Of course, for many of those in the medical profession, the word “tourism” is anathema and its use borders on heresy. They feel that the word trivialises a very serious (life and death) activity.

Even though I, too, am a member of the medical fraternity, my contention has been that many in the profession suffer from a complex of “self-importance”.

The leveling off of globality-induced travel for health

We have been attributing the growth of medical travel not only to “need” but also on globality which makes the movement of people and the sourcing of services abroad easier. My impression is that today, globality-driven “needs-based travel for health” may have peaked. But tourism which may include the consumption of health-related services has by no means peaked.

A change in the direction of flow of medical travel

Finally, I need to refer to the change in direction of flow with regards to medical travel). Whether it is as a result of the “West’s Revenge” or other reasons (the growing affluence amongst the Chinese and Russians, for example), we are now, undeniably, seeing more East to West flow. We are also seeing a rise in East to East activity (from one Asian country to another “better” Asian country).

And it is time for us to stop regarding countries purely as “destinations” or “sources”. Today, practically all are both!

FURTHER CONTENT PUBLISHED BY THIS AUTHOR

“Fragmentistan Syndrome”

Articles, 01 March, 2017

The “Fragmentistan Syndrome” in medical tourism

Industry Representative Bodies

Articles, 31 January, 2017

The raison d'être of Health Tourism Industry Representative Bodies

Health tourism improvements

Articles, 21 September, 2016

Making health tourism “truly” sustainable and resilient – for all

The rise of domestic medical tourism

Articles, 10 December, 2015

Why more and more medical tourism business is becoming “domestic”

Insurance funded treatment abroad

Articles, 15 October, 2015

The future of “Health-Plan-Funded” treatment abroad

A fortune in pyramids

Articles, 12 June, 2015

Is there a fortune at the bottom of the medical tourism pyramid?

Saying NO

Articles, 24 November, 2014

Why some countries are turning their back on medical tourism.

"Buyers" at events

Articles, 07 August, 2014

Hosted "Buyers" fail to live up to expectations

Who leads "Health Tourism Destinations"?

Articles, 22 May, 2014

Are there leaders, or does he who pays, speaks?

The Russian Patient

Articles, 22 April, 2014

Russia is the new focus for medical tourist companies.

Why "Google Health" failed

Articles, 09 January, 2014

Examining the electronic health record "Death Trap"

Greece as a destination

Articles, 29 November, 2013

Times are changing as Greece tries to become a major destination.

Luxury and Medicine

Articles, 07 October, 2013

If medical tourism is all about cost, why so many luxury destinations?

Conventional bankruptcy

Articles, 27 August, 2013

The old models have failed, but what replaces them?

State and Government

Articles, 17 June, 2013

The role of governments in developing health tourism

Haves and wants

Articles, 12 April, 2013

How have to travel is being replaced by wanting to travel

Discovering medical tourism

Articles, 22 October, 2012

Despite the recession, there's still growth in medical tourism

Tourism "free zones"

Articles, 01 June, 2012

What are the goals and benefits?

International medical children

Articles, 18 May, 2012

How the EU directive may stimulate an increase in child care

On ice?

Articles, 23 April, 2012

Dr Constantine Constantinides talks on the EU directive on Cross Border Healthcare

Short/long term

Articles, 06 March, 2012

Which should we focus on in medical tourism

Survivor bias

Articles, 23 January, 2012

Past success is no predictor of future eminence

Healthcare standards

Articles, 21 October, 2011

Do standards need to have a regional flavour?

Is it enough?

Articles, 28 September, 2011

Can medical tourism on its own be sustainable?

Understanding the market

Articles, 03 June, 2011

Why would you want to get into the medical tourism market?

Exploring the health tourism market

Articles, 28 January, 2011

Constantine Constantinides provides advice as to understanding the health tourism market

Government incentives for health tourism

Articles, 29 November, 2010

Constantine Constantinides speaks on the role of government in medical travel

Failure?

Articles, 26 August, 2010

Constantine Constantinides talks on why medical tourism businesses fail

Should accreditation be sold

Articles, 29 July, 2010

Constantine Constantinides talks on how should handle Destination Marketing

Blowing their own trumpet

Articles, 26 February, 2010

Is there any noise from the market, or is it all in the industry?

Brightest Africa

Articles, 20 January, 2010

Is Africa always a exporter, or can it be a healthcare destination?

Cross-border opposition

Articles, 10 December, 2009

Spain and other nations blocked the draft proposal, we ask the experts why

The resentment factor

Articles, 15 October, 2009

Health tourism is often resented by countries, but can it have positive effects?

Free and open debate

Articles, 22 September, 2009

Constantine Constantinides voices concern over the expression of opinions in the industry

Medical tourism in denial

Articles, 30 July, 2009

Supply is exceeding demand in medical tourism, but the industry is in denial

Advertisement

ADD AN ARTICLE

Do you have an article that you’d like to share with the medical travel industry?

Publish for FREE on IMTJ.

ADD ARTICLE

Related Articles

Growth of healing hotels

16 February, 2017

Healing Hotels of the World and luxury customers

How hospitals use their websites

12 December, 2016

How hospitals in India, Malaysia and Thailand use their websites to promote medical tourism

Medical tourism in 2016

01 November, 2016

The upside down world of medical tourism

Malaysia on the up

11 July, 2016

Malaysia... Challenging perceptions in health tourism

Cross border payments

31 May, 2016

International Patient Payments – More than an afterthought