European medical travel site

 

A website that offers information mainly to UK and Ireland residents seeking treatment in the UK, Ireland, Europe and elsewhere, suggests that fewer people are going abroad for treatment. RevaHealth.com is a healthcare search engine with information about 60,000 clinics in the UK and Ireland and thousands more in 50 countries around the world.

It suggests that the number of Britons looking for health treatment abroad has dropped by over 40 percent in the past six months. But it also says that numbers leaving the UK for treatment has fallen by almost 20 percent between February and March. So if the six-month drop is 40 percent and the monthly drop under 20 percent, then this can either be read as a sign of a continuing fall, or that the fall has dropped by half, which suggests there is a recovery. A truer comparison would be March 2009 compared to March 2008.

It is important to factor in that medical tourism does have seasons, that the site traffic for March is over 30 percent higher than February, and that half the site’s business is in domestic health care not medical tourism, so there is no way of knowing if the extra traffic is predominantly people seeking domestic healthcare or the same mix as before.

Caelen King of RevaHealth comments, “While putting off cosmetic dental and plastic surgery procedures might seem like the prudent thing to do in a bad economy, there are still lots of money saving options open to savvy customers. Due to the downturn in the economy, many clinics abroad are lowering their prices, making the potential savings even greater. Countries like Hungary, Turkey and even Thailand offer UK patients high-quality treatments like tooth whitening, breast implants and liposuction for less.”

Before getting carried away in an excess of gloom and doom or excitement about a recovery, it is vital to appreciate that the figures are purely the number of people looking for information on a website, not real figures of the numbers of people who are or have been or will actually go overseas for treatment

Philip Boyle of RevaHealth adds: “The number of enquiries we are getting for cosmetic surgery continues to grow faster than our traffic, with the number of enquiries from the UK jumping by over 58 percent from February to March.”  

Company figures for March 2009 are different from what other medical tourism sites may show as a large proportion of general searches and enquiries passed on to clinics are for people in the UK and Ireland looking for treatment at home

The number of people in the Republic looking for dental treatment in Northern Ireland increased by nearly 75 percent in February. Tax relief in Ireland was recently lowered from the higher rate of 41 percent to the standard rate of 20 percent, making expensive work even more costly for many patients. Caelen King said: "Our research clearly shows that Irish patients are choosing to shop around for dental treatment, and going across the border to Northern Ireland is an increasingly popular option.’’  

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