Medical tourism is booming in the south and southeast regions of Asia. With more than a million medical travelers per year Asia is considered a top choice destination. From cancer treatment to hip replacement to cosmetic surgery Asia can make everything possible. Generating revenue high into the billions and comprising 12.7 percent of the global market medical tourism is expected to grow a whopping 17.6 percent and revenues up by 23 percent by 2012. Asia is one of medical tourists most favorite destinations because it combines healthcare and tourism together cohesively.
Asia is often seen as an exotic destination for travelers from other regions captivated by the landscape and the cultures. From big cities with skyscrapers and retro scenes to smaller villages with beautiful peaceful ocean access and calming soothing surroundings of natures presence theres always a place for urban and/or natural enjoyment. Oriental culture has always attracted passionate travelers:
The traditional dances the majestic temples or even the new Asian pop culture from anime to the cinema of Bollywood bring them from thousands of miles away. Food also is delightful for its different tastes and unique health benefits. Its no wonder Asia attracts millions of tourists each year.
Although Asia is much different culturally from the U.K and U.S ironically it has been reported that tourists from these countries feel less of a cultural shock in Asia than any other country because of its modern infrastructure and the way the region is developing as a whole.
Also again the majorities of the physicians in the bigger countries and cities in Asia were trained in the U.S. and have colleagues and counterparts here. As a physician being able to speak the same language as your patient you are trusted more by your patient and they become more relaxed in your care and oversight.
All over the world Asian countries feed the reputation of being a privileged place for wellness spa healing and relaxing. Asia viewed as the land of well-being since the earliest civilization illustrates culture of traditional medicine and natural healing throughout the years.
With these traditions and the integration of modern technology and evidence based medicine Asia has much more medical services to offer including: cardiac surgery cosmetic surgery general and cosmetic dentistry pre- and post-operative care hair transplants alternative therapies hip and knee replacements orthopedic surgery ophthalmology stem cell transplant and more. Studies show Asians are not only living older than Americans or Europeans but also living healthier lives.
Australian North-Americans Canadians and also Europeans are most likely to come to Asia to undergo surgery. Asia also takes advantage of circulating medical tourism through the numerous countries within giving it a high ranking of Chinese and Japanese medical tourists as well. The accessibility and the proximity of Asia plays a role when choosing a medical tourism destination but the low cost associated to the top quality procedures attracts people from all over the world.
For instance a heart bypass costing an average of $144400 in the USA will cost $5200 in India and $15121 in Thailand. Generally medical travelers are going overseas for major procedures or treatments which would have an expensive cost in their country but checkups and minor surgery such as dental procedures or ophthalmologic surgery also are popular among medical tourists.
For the past ten years Asia has shown its medical tourism potential growing from amateur in the industry to first choice destination. Inclusive of public or private players investments in medical tourism are thriving multiplying hospitals at every corner.
Governments have invested billions of dollars over the years to increase awareness of medical tourism. In countries lacking government support physicians are even splitting proceeds with public hospitals to organize their own private businesses to make their marks in the medical tourism industry.
First class procedures at reasonable prices while enjoying a new culture under the sun very tempting. But despite the fact that hospitals offering low cost surgery to medical tourists are booming in Asia each country each hospital and each patient should be able to balance economic growth and risks taken.
Not every hospital offers high quality services and not every country offers the same procedures in the exact same conditions however quality management and first class services control exist via accreditation systems such as JCI or ISQUA accreditation. Being internationally accredited in Asia as well as everywhere else may guarantee an English speaking medical staff high quality services and regulations on physicians and equipment.
Countries possessing superior growth in unique infrastructure and skilled physicians are seeking to take part on the up rise of medical tourism. Though faced with common hurdles such as language barriers they are readily identifying the key factors which will meet and exceed their foreign patients expectations.
They also still offer inexpensive services in comparison to their neighboring countries especially the U.S. In addition to their weaknesses in language and regulations they are also struggling with government support making it a challenge to become another mega destination in Asia. In some countries throughout Asia it is against the law to market hospitals internationally.
Studies show Asias medical tourism market is expected to be worth more than US$4 billion by 2012 a growing pie which everyone wants a share of. Drawing a global picture of the Asian medical tourism market we will highlight in this issue Japan China India and Taiwan focusing on their involvements in medical tourism their engagements expectations and the obstacles they are facing. In order to better understand the path of Asia towards medical tourism we will illustrate the current position of the different Asian countries through the examples of selected hospitals.
About the Author
Anne-Line Crochet is Communications Intern for Medical Tourism Association. With a Masters degree in political science a Minor in journalism Anne-Line provides professional expertise to our public relations and editorial functions. Previously a staff writer for French publications Fragil and Ouest-France she is fluent in English and French and conversant in Spanish and Russian languages. Anne- Line writes for MTAs Medical Tourism Magazine and Health Tourism Magazine.
Amanda Shaw is currently an intern at MTA focused on Sustainable Healthcare & Hospital Development. Ms. Shaw holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Journalism from Columbia College in Chicago. She was a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars at Columbia and a journalism intern at Chicago Splash Magazine. Her interests in medical tourism include global healthcare development healthcare reform healthcare quality and international marketing.