Potential for domestic benefits for medical tourism to Barbados

 

A study of the potential of Barbados as a medical tourism destination by Simon Fraser University.  'Understanding the potential health equity impacts of medical tourism sector growth and development in Barbados' argues that medical tourism could be a source of additional finance for clinics and a way of increasing the range of medical services locally.

But before any of that can happen, there is a need for significant investment in the healthcare infrastructure. With local investors and government unwilling or unable to do this, there is an urgent need for foreign investors.

Foreign investors have backed all three private hospital projects in the last decade. There are concerns locally that an over reliance on international investors will mean that any profits from medical tourism will not stay in Barbados. As yet, this is not a problem as few extra medical tourists are being attracted. 

Another concern is that private healthcare will dissuade the Barbadian government from investing in public healthcare.

Two new hospital projects involving medical tourism both propose using doctors from overseas rather than locals. While flown in expertise allows the country to offer extra services to locals, it can stop the development of local doctors who face competition from people with tax and regulatory advantages.

Local hospitals and clinics that tend to be small, face substantial costs if they seek international accreditation to assure patients on quality. Whether such accreditation is worth the cost for any extra numbers of medical tourists it attracts, is questionable. Is any improvement in clinical outcome, worth the cost?

High paying medical tourists, if sufficient numbers could be attracted to the island,  can help improve facilities for the small local population.

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