The medical tourism market is growing, with ever more countries looking for ways to provide foreign patient care.
“Everyone wants their share of the pie,” said Sanjiv Malik, a hospital director, at a recent conference on medical tourism that was attended by more than 300 professionals in Berlin.
The “pie” is getting even bigger. Nearly three million patients are traveling abroad for medical treatment every year.
Turnover is expected to be 100 billion dollars in 2012, compared with just 79 billion in 2010, and is set to increase to 130 billion by 2015, according to KPMG, the global consultancy firm.
Many medical tourists look for cheaper and quicker treatment than they can receive in their home country.
Mexico see many US and Canada patients, whilst Thailand, India and Malaysia are key destinations for Asians.
Germany sees wealthy Russians as well as nationals from the Gulf. Rich Africans go to France for medical care whilst Latin Americans go to the US city of Miami.
Keith Pollard runs the website Treatment Abroad and said that, “medical tourism is not global, it’s regional”.
Yet an increasing number of nations and hospitals want it to turn global.
In Turkey “the government has taken the initiative to be one of the players” in medical tourism, which until now had been dominated by the private sector, said Emin Cakmak, who heads the Turkish medical tourism committee.
It has started a demolition program of old hospitals and is replacing them with hospitals destined for foreigners, to attract patients from Arab and Gulf states.
Dubai is keen to attract patients from neighboring countries and has its own “medical zone”.
“Dubai was traditionally a country which sent patients (abroad), now it wants to host them,” said Enric Mayolas, manager of the Barcelona Centro Medico which finds foreign patients for about 20 hospitals in the Spanish city.
Please read Medical Tourism Market Grows Part 2 for more on this story!