Inbound medical tourism to the USA and UK


Within the “conventional” wisdom of medical tourism is an assumption that the UK and USA are prime target markets. Almost every country, organisation and conference seems to suggest that these two countries are only consumers of medical tourism, and they are always high up on medical tourism target lists. The reality may be very different, as both are in the top ten international medical tourism destinations.

According to a dental clinic in Sussex, patients in Sussex who are thinking of travelling overseas for dental treatments can save themselves not only the time, the effort and a lot of money, as most of their requirements can now be met locally and at a similar saving. The most favoured country for Britons travelling abroad for dental treatments is Hungary and especially Budapest. Dr Bruno Silva of Brighton’s Implant Clinic in Hove, says,
“Our services are comparative in price if not cheaper than for patients travelling abroad. We have a great team of surgeons specialising in dental implants and advanced dentistry.”

Dr Silva also suggests that the big disadvantage of going abroad for treatment is that the cost of any follow up treatment and the cost of dealing with any complications must be considered, plus all the travel costs and accommodation. He argues that before people start thinking of making the journey they should look at all the options at home for dental implants and advanced dentistry. While you would expect the clinic to suggest treatment at home rather than overseas, that it attracts medical tourists from overseas may be a surprise. Brighton Implant Clinic has a chauffeur driven car for patients who require transport and in the past year has received patients for treatment from Scotland, Germany, Malta, France and many other parts of Europe.

Dr Bessam Farjo and his wife Dr Nilofer Farjo head up the UK’s leading hair transplant surgery. They carry out more than 300 operations each year at their Manchester clinic, The Farjo Medical Centre. More than 4,000 people have travelled from across the UK, Europe and as far as the Middle East, Australia and the United States, to the centre. The Farjo Medical Centre has an international reputation for not only using the latest hair transplantation techniques – recognised throughout the surgical field – but also for placing significant emphasis on developing pioneering ways to counter hair loss.

The USA is also an often forgotten destination. David Goldstein of Health Options Worldwide (HOW) explains, “The popular notion in medical tourism often defines it as Americans leaving the U.S. for inexpensive medical treatment and low cost surgery. However, the business model works both ways. In the world of medical tourism and medical travel, the United States is certainly a power player, offering high quality care and modern technology to attract international patients. Most people hear of medical tourism and they think of American patients seeking healthcare in Asia or Latin America where the services are much less expensive. But cost is not always a factor; quality is."

Goldstein argues, “Medical tourism is a huge business opportunity for American hospitals to bring in revenue. What is interesting about this trend is that international medical tourists do not come to the U.S. for healthcare because of economics. International patients are attracted by the quality of doctors and state-of-the-art medical technology for which the United States is renowned. American hospitals offer pioneer treatments that are not available anywhere else. Another factor impacting international patients is the fact that the wait for medical treatment in their home country is too long. But quite simply, many of these patients can afford the best and can find it in the U.S.Travelling to the U.S. for healthcare can be costly and complicated for international travellers. Usually, the patients are wealthy people who can afford high quality care. In this fast growing market the U.S. has a chance to be very competitive."

HOW says figures for international patient numbers going to the USA have grown over the last 12 months, and the industry can expect more growth this year. Patients come from: Mexico (21%), Middle East (14%), South America (12%), Central America excluding Mexico (11%) and Europe (11%). The most sought-out treatment areas were oncology (32%), cardiovascular (14%) and neurological (12%).



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