The old models have failed, but what replaces them?


Medical tourism is broken... but not dead.

The word bankruptcy derives from the Italian phrase “banca rotta”, which means "broken bench" (which is believed to refer to the custom of breaking a moneychanger's bench to signify his insolvency).

I believe conventional medical tourism is broken. And I believe that it not only needs to be fixed but also that it needs to be re-conceptualized and practised in a way which is in accord with contemporary thinking.

Bankruptcy does not mean death. (Thanks to “Chapter 11” bankruptcy introduced by the inventive Americans). Chapter 11 is a form of bankruptcy that allows for an attempt to reorganize and revive a business. Chapter 11 gives the “debtor” a chance of a fresh start.

For a number of years, I have been ranting that conventional medical tourism (i.e. medical tourism as the industry “purists” consider it) is a bankrupt model. In my written and spoken word, I have (from time to time) been referring to “contemporary medical tourism” to make the point and distinction.

The bankruptcy of medical tourism does not mean the death of medical tourism

…the king is dead – long live the king

With regards to medical tourism, I have been championing the rehabilitation or redirection-ing of what I consider to be an unsustainable conventional model.

For many, “medical tourism” (or medical travel) is “king”. I will not dispute this. Nevertheless, my contention has been that the conventional model is not sustainable.

The purist’s view of medical tourism...

... is a distorted notion of reality. The conventional or purist’s view holds that:

  •     Low price is the principle driver.
  •     There will always be “source countries” and “destination countries”.
  •     Medical tourism, on its own, is enough to successfully sustain a destination.
  •     It is all about “treatment abroad”.
  •     With treatment abroad, patients will select from a Global choice.
  •     People will embrace medical tourism because they have to (i.e. they have no other choice in terms of treatment options)

The contemporary view of medical tourism holds that:

  •     Value-for-money is one of the principle drivers (which may, certainly, not mean the lowest cost option).
  •     Source countries are becoming destination countries (what in 2008, I started referring to as the “West’s Revenge”).
  •     Medical tourism, on its own, is not enough to sustain a destination (see this IMTJ article).
  •     It is not exclusively about treatment abroad. Domestic medical tourism is picking up, especially in the USA, and besides, domestic medical tourism is at least as old as treatment abroad
  •     With treatment abroad, patients are selecting from a regional, and even national, choice
  •     People will embrace medical tourism because they want to (even though they have other options)

Discovering what others have discarded

Many have still not realized that in medical tourism, the contemporary is replacing, or has already replaced, the conventional.

Veteran purists, out of self-interest or brain-blind conservatism, continue to play the role of false prophets, predicting the exponential growth of conventional medical tourism - “in leaps and bounds”.

And, as if this was not bad enough, we read the writings of medical tourism experts, writers, bloggers and sycophants who have just discovered the now defunct and discredited mantras and arguments in support of thinking and doing medical tourism, in the good old way. And of course, what they do is “copy and paste” these mantras and arguments to newly-penned articles or blog posts.

All I can say is “each to one’s own”, when it comes to where one picks up advice and wisdom!


Amateur to professional

Articles, 01 August, 2018

Medical tourism clusters are not in the right league

“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?

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

Changing motivations

Articles, 01 February, 2013

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

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


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



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