So, the 12th annual World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress has come and gone.
It’s been two weeks since the Medical Tourism Association’s flagship event has taken place in Abu Dhabi, and we’ve all returned to our respective corners of the world. Many of us have gained new ideas or insights from amazing speakers who energized everyone in attendance. We networked and created new partnerships.
But why does any of this matter? What does any of this mean for the health tourism industry?
At its core, this event is all about industry growth – a broader vision for how Medical Tourism can evolve, both regionally and globally.
WMTC is a disruptive force in international healthcare. The very idea of medical tourism actively dislodges national healthcare vice grips, encouraging patients to look beyond their own borders for optimum care. It forces old models and outdated systems to reckon with the options and solutions that a global market can create. Health travel is essential to the medical mission – in order to do no harm, medicine must first offer the best form of good.
But the Congress itself wasn’t the only disruptive element of our 12th annual summit. The Abu Dhabi medical scene is primed to become a major regional and global player in the medical tourism market. Because of its comfortable, hyper-modern hospitals and its central global location, Abu Dhabi is well-positioned to become an attractive option for patients in the Middle East, Africa, Russia, and China, in addition to western patients who scan the entire international health landscape for high-quality or highly specialized procedures.
Up-and-coming health travel hotspots rarely have the momentum that Abu Dhabi does. Most Medical Tourism Cities would not have the resources to fly in more than a hundred healthcare buyers in order to show them their fresh facilities; instead, buyers would need to look at names, photos, and information online in order to decide whether or not they should add a hospital or destination to their provider list. Because the MTA partnered with the Abu Dhabi government, though, we were able to create a unique opportunity for buyers from all over the world to see with their own eyes exactly what’s happening in Abu Dhabi.
Of course, the surge toward Abu Dhabi will have ripple effects throughout the entire medical tourism community. Smart hospitals and communities will attempt to replicate many of the thing that Abu Dhabi is doing well, in an effort to become a more attractive destination themselves. Incoming Tourism rates may adjust in nearby regions that have been traditionally successful.
As for the middle east… well, a rising tide lifts all boats. Other aspiring medical destinations on the Arabian Gulf – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman – may receive a second look, too.
WMTC is a force that has reshaped – and will continue to reshape – the medical tourism industry. Beyond the showcase for Abu Dhabi, our 2019 Congress was centered around the theme of breaking down barriers within the industry. To that end, WMTC was an unmitigated success. PulseProtocol, our event’s platinum elite sponsor, signed more than 40 Letters of Intent with prospective clients who hoped to use their facilitator-in-a-box model to improve their market position in the medical tourism field. We had dozens of hospitals and clinics meet with officials from Global Healthcare Accreditation, in an effort to streamline or optimize their processes for health travelers. We held marketing workshops and expert seminars; we even held a class to train new Certified Medical Travel Professionals. Regardless of your job title or native country, you almost certainly left Abu Dhabi better equipped to operate in our industry than when you arrived.
Maybe most importantly, WMTC isn’t afraid to acknowledge where the barriers are – both in the present and off in the not-so-distant future. As a community, we can’t overcome obstacles without recognizing that they exist. Naming our challenges is a key step in designing solutions for them.
The MTA’s 12th annual World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress was a huge success, but there’s much more work to be done. As the industry continues to evolve in the aftermath of this month’s event, we’ll continue to observe, strategize, and react.
Health travel and Medical Tourism still has a long way to go, but after this month’s Congress, we’re more convinced than ever that we’re on the right track.
We’ll see you in 2020, at the 13th annual World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress.