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A Letter from the Founder of World Medical Tourism Congress: Medical Travel Industry Goes to the Middle East

Jonathan Edelheit
Medical Tourism Association
Industry News

Is the Medical Tourism industry ready for a change? I’m sure you would agree that it is.

Having witnessed the industry grow from a handful of medical tourism facilitators promoting a network of ten hospitals in ten countries, to  over a thousand medical tourism facilitators representing more than 50 destinations, a lot can be said about the ongoing need for collaboration and collective commitment to growth.  

In the beginning, no health insurance companies offered medical tourism options. Now, it is either embedded in their health insurance plans or on the verge. Medical travel has become a major business unit for several large insurers.

What has remained the same, however, is the many barriers to the industry flourishing, the lack of consumer awareness, and the resistance to collaboration. It’s still a dog-eats-dog world where the goals of the individual stakeholder trump the needs of the masses.

Everything is siloed, and unfortunately, it is just not that easy to grow medical tourism programs. Patients, facilitators, insurance companies, and hospitals struggle with the concept of connection premised upon word of mouth referrals and digital marketing campaigns. The problem is exacerbated by the lack of technology, integration of services, quality and pricing transparency, and strategic partnerships.

Sometimes it can take six months for a facilitator or insurance company to get a contract with a hospital to refer patients. Need a second opinion from a hospital in the USA? This can take 10 days to a month, costing USD $600 to $6,000, and the processes vary. Furthermore, it is tough for healthcare providers to identify the real “players” or “buyers” in medical tourism. Sifting through the white noise promotion of lead generation websites and negative growth claims becomes a daily chore. Combine that with all the fake statistics and reported figures put out by destinations without a single definition or metric for measurement, a new industry entrant is left with their head spinning.

In the thirteen years since starting Medical Tourism Association, a single meeting of the minds has never been achieved as it relates to definitions or metrics. No single portal has been successful at providing the public with reliable, trusted sources of information, payment, reviews, or authentication. These deficits inspire us to help break down these barriers and bring the keys players together to make change. Patients need choices. Buyers need choices. But more importantly, they need access to the best medical care available, regardless of where that care is located.

This is why after eleven years of hosting the World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress in the USA, we have moved our event to Abu Dhabi for our 12th event in partnership with the government. This year, our theme is “Breaking Down Barriers”. Abu Dhabi has one of the friendliest visa policies which will allow delegates and patients from around the world, eliminating the barriers to business and healthcare entry.  

In past years, registration could cost USD $2,000. For the first time this year, we are offering free basic registration allowing participants to attend all educational sessions. This makes it easier for industry leaders to participate without any price barriers.

Through our partnership with the Abu Dhabi government, we are rolling out our most ambitious hosted buyers program ever with over 100 key hosted buyers who have been strictly vetted for business developed in the last two years. Due to the regional focus, buyers will be highlighted from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, and the rest of the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA), plus China, Russia, and CIS countries.

We listened to you and are breaking down the physical barriers to connection as well! We are doing away with our exhibit hall in favor of the requested sponsored networking hall, where previous exhibitors can now sponsor for a dedicated networking table. This way, it becomes easy to schedule networking meetings with our hosted buyers through our customized networking meetings platform/software so you can focus more on the development of your business of medical travel versus traditional branding.  

For us, we are able to redirect all of our efforts to put together the best agenda, healthcare leadership, and the right buyers of healthcare, for an unparalleled networking experience. It is time for the industry to get more exclusive with the right opportunity to do the right type of serious business.

Abu Dhabi is positioned to evolve into a world-class healthcare destination, making us proud to be a part of their initiative. Through site visits, we will be showcasing Abu Dhabi’s top hospitals for all hosted buyers and for the world. Whether it is Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi or SEHA’s brand new hospital, you will be blown away by the modern, expert care centers in Abu Dhabi.  

Where most of the Gulf Coast Countries have spent USD $10+ billion in outbound referrals, destinations like Abu Dhabi ready themselves for healthcare transformation at a rate like no other. You will learn where the GCC markets are headed directly from some of our 100 subject matter experts and speakers.

This will all be converging in two months.

The industry is ready for a change; are you? It is time for a revolution in medical tourism, as World Medical Tourism Congress heads to Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi is a family-friendly destination, so bring your friends and family to check out the amazing theme parks like Warner Brothers; visit the Louvre, the Grand Mosque, and Formula 1; ride a wave runner around Abu Dhabi’s thousands of islands, or go shopping in the luxury malls or the local Souq! There are no barriers to the memorable experience you will have October 15-17, 2019.

Get your free pass before prices go up, upgrade to the full experience with a networking pass, or get the networking access in addition to the live teaching of the Certified Medical Travel Professional program. Learn more about your registration options.

Learn about how you can become a Certified Medical Tourism Professional→
Disclaimer: The content provided in Medical Tourism Magazine ( is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. We do not endorse or recommend any specific healthcare providers, facilities, treatments, or procedures mentioned in our articles. The views and opinions expressed by authors, contributors, or advertisers within the magazine are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of our company. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, We make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, regarding the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability of the information contained in Medical Tourism Magazine ( or the linked websites. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk. We strongly advise readers to conduct their own research and consult with healthcare professionals before making any decisions related to medical tourism, healthcare providers, or medical procedures.
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