LaingBuisson’s objective analysis of international medical travel


LaingBuisson, the UK’s most trusted supplier of healthcare data, and approved provider of data on the independent healthcare sector to the UK government’s Office for National Statistics, has launched its first report on the global medical travel and tourism sector.

Based on studies of outbound and inbound flows of people seeking treatment abroad, LaingBuisson estimates that the annual number of medical travellers worldwide amounts to 5.5 million and the value of medical travel expenditure is US$10-15 billion. The Medical Travel and Tourism Global Market Report and accompanying online subscription package (to the IMTJ Country Profiles, which includes the Medical Travel Directory database of organisations active in the sector) show that countries claiming leadership in the sector, are rarely among the leaders in this market.

Medical travel has changed significantly during the 21st century. Cosmetic, fertility and dental treatments are among the most popular with medical travellers. The factors driving this upsurge in medical travel include the high cost of healthcare in industrialised nations; the ease and affordability of international travel; and improvements in technology and standards of care in many countries around the world.

It is not a sector without controversy. Ethical issues arise around the sale of organs for donation in poorer countries. There are questions around people returning home with infections or creating burden on their domestic health services owing to complications resulting from surgery overseas. Another hot topic covered in the report concerns businesses promoting cures from unproven stem cell treatments.

Demand for medical treatment overseas continues to grow but flows are changing, meaning that potential destinations need to be realistic when planning potential income. Among the key trends identified by this report are that many medical tourists do not seek out the cheapest destination and the top three European destinations are also the most expensive. Also, one-time suppliers of medical travellers such as the US, China, Russia and the Gulf nations are now becoming key destinations.

Report author, Ian Youngman, said:

"This report sheds light on how medical travel and tourism works. It considers which countries are doing well and badly; who is going where and why; what treatments are they seeking; and how political, economic, social and technological changes are impacting the market. We also have a focus on how Brexit could affect cross-border healthcare from the UK. It cuts through the hype you frequently see on the websites of national authorities seeking to attract more patients; and it puts to rest statistics which, when you boil them down, suggest an incredible expenditure per head – a far cry from the pursuit of value for money that is often associated with medical travel.

"Alongside the report, we are also giving customers one year’s online subscription to the constantly updated IMTJ Country Profiles. This is a unique resource of over 180 country profiles giving a high end overview of healthcare systems and services, and the latest analysis on the provision and values of both inbound and outbound medical tourism".

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The Medical Travel and Tourism Global Market Report is available to purchase from IMTJ.
Buy the report or view the table of contents.




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