The medical travel market has expanded over the last few decades as health payers across the world explore cross-border solutions to their healthcare needs. With key drivers, such as affordability, quality of care, and excellent patient care experience driving medical travel, more health payers, including large insurers, governments, and large self-funded employers are opting for treatments from international medical providers. But in the largely unregulated industry made up of providers that offer varying levels and standards of care, it may be challenging for health consumers to make the right decisions about the best medical travel program to meet their healthcare needs.
The Medical Tourism Index (MTI), designed by the International Healthcare Research Center, has served as a potent tool industry stakeholders and health consumers leverage to assess the suitability and rank of a medical travel destination across certain quality metrics.
The MTI assesses medical travel destinations across three main dimensions: destination attractiveness; medical tourism industry, and; quality of facilities and services, each of which is made up of certain core components that evaluate a destination’s capacity to offer quality healthcare safely and competently. For nearly a decade since the first edition of the MTI, health consumers and payers rely on these valid and critical factors that drive patient experience and top-tier healthcare delivery.
This dimension offers a broad scan on the environmental factors within country or region that could potentiate or inhibit medical travel, assessing key factors, such as the economy, security, global reputation and image, as well as prevailing cultural norms.
Assessing these key metrics explores the general conditions of a destination as it affects seamless healthcare delivery or otherwise. Choosing a healthcare travel destination requires much more than analyzing the quality of healthcare delivery, but also examining external or indirect factors that affect the patient experience.
Destinations that rank high in this dimension, therefore, show robust economic indices, offer safe patient care journey across all touchpoints of care, and demonstrate cultural competence to provide care to patients across a range of cultural contexts.
Medical Tourism Industry
This dimension offers a direct litmus test for the potency of a destination’s healthcare apparatus for international patients. The Medical Tourism Industry measures direct factors, such as treatment costs and destination attractiveness as a medical travel provider, to aid informed decisions to health payers and consumers.
When insurers and health consumers consider a medical travel destination for their treatment needs, some of the most important factors they are looking out for are cost comparison in relation to prices in their home countries, as well as other medical travel infrastructure, including travel logistics, accommodation, pre-travel planning and communication, post-treatment care, and other ancillary services.
In the post-pandemic era of medical travel, health consumers are now more intentional and require a prospective international care provider to tick all the boxes that border on a wholesome patient experience. Destinations that rank high in this dimension have a solid medical travel infrastructure that offers top-rate services across all the touchpoints of care, from departure to discharge.
Quality of Facilities and Services
This dimension takes a deeper dive into the capacity and standards of care a medical travel destination offers. For patients seeking surgical interventions for complex orthopedic conditions, for example, they most likely will consider destinations that have the expertise and equipment to provide complex orthopedic surgeries.
The quality of facilities and services ranks hospitals and medical tourism providers on how well they offer healthcare solutions, leveraging medical advances and state-of-the-art medical technologies. Signposting health consumers and payers to destinations that deliver top-line care across various specialties gives patients a value for their money and builds confidence in the desired clinical outcomes.
This dimension also focuses on safety of care, assessing certain metrics include infection prevention policies, success rates, complication rates, as well as risk-mitigation strategies. In the present era of healthcare consumption where safety is a key driver, these metrics provide invaluable information to health payers to identify destinations that have solid healthcare systems that prioritize quality and safety.
The Medical Tourism Index has produced three editions in the last 10 years: the 2014/2015, 2016/2017, and 2020/2021 editions, each demonstrating a tested and validated representation of global destinations across these critical indicators. The 2020/2021 edition was released in the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic as destinations struggled to achieve surge capacities to deal with the contagion, evaluating these destinations against safety and infection control standards that have become significant determinants in medical travel.
The Medical Tourism Index offers stakeholders, as well as health consumers and payers a unique advantage in exploring major medical travel destinations, providing adequate information about their healthcare and social infrastructures as their commitment to the highest quality of care. The MTI is available to governments, and insurers, and health consumers and presents a valuable resource to identifying, tracking, and evaluating the quality and standards of healthcare across several destinations.