New Era of Medical Tourism

A post-pandemic revival

Prasanthi Sadhu

Prasanthi Sadhu

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Prasanthi Sadhu Editor, Asian Hospitals and Healthcare Management

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly transformed lives, placing unprecedented pressure on healthcare systems worldwide. Even as hospitals and healthcare facilities faced challenges in coping with the surge in COVID-19 cases, governments and pharmaceutical companies collaborated to develop vaccines in record time, marking a remarkable achievement in medical sciences.

Travel restrictions, border closures, and lockdowns severely impacted the travel and tourism industry. This resulted in a significant decline in travel and tourism activities, causing financial losses and job cuts in the industry. The pandemic also prompted a shift towards telemedicine and virtual healthcare services. Many medical procedures and consultations have become accessible online, reducing the need for international travel for minor medical issues and follow-ups. But as the global health scenario improved and travel restrictions eased, the medical tourism industry gradually began to recover. Individuals have restarted travelling to other countries for medical treatments or services that offer value in terms of cost, quality, or accessibility.

The global medical tourism market was valued USD82 billion in 2021, a figure that is expected to grow by 121 per cent to US$ 182 billion by 2025, according to a study by Glasgow Research & Consulting.

India’s NITI Aayog estimates that the Indian economy could earn an additional US$9 billion by 2026 from Medical Value Travel (MVT) and Wellness tourism. Globally, the MVT market is projected to grow from US$ 13.98 billion in 2021 to US$ 53.51 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 21.1 per cent.

However, this recovery required innovative solutions and strict safety measures to ensure the safety of both patients and healthcare providers. Innovation plays a crucial role in the medical tourism industry, driving the adoption of new ideas, methods, and products to enhance patient acquisition, customer satisfaction, and overall competitiveness. Innovations in medical technology, procedures, and treatments can lead to better outcomes and patient experiences. Medical centres that invest in state-of-the-art equipment and cutting-edge treatments can attract more medical tourists seeking advanced and effective healthcare solutions. Personalised treatment plans, telemedicine consultations, and seamless coordination of travel and medical services, can significantly improve customer satisfaction.

Collaborations between medical centres, travel agencies, and government entities, leads to comprehensive medical tourism packages and seamless experiences for patients seeking healthcare abroad. Pursuing international accreditations and certifications can demonstrate a commitment to quality and safety, increasing trust and confidence among medical tourists.

The cover story in this issue on ‘Quickly Emerging, Post-COVID Market on Medical Tourism’ by David Thomas Boucher, Chief Partnerships Officer, Bumrungrad International Hospital talks about many factors that are significantly affecting medical value travel in post-COVID 2023. He also says that there is now huge pent-up demand for many types of treatments.

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--Issue 61--