1.6 Million Americans Expected to Head Overseas for Healthcare in 2012
The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions predicts that approximately 1.6 million Americans will travel outside the country for medical care in 2012, with an anticipated yearly growth of 35%. Increased sophistication of medical tourism operations, demand for cosmetic surgery, and access to low-cost global transportation are cited by Deloitte as the major factors for growth. The firm also forecast that inbound medical travel will experience slower growth, totalling approximately 561,000 medical tourists by 2017.
Medical Schools Jumping Into Tourism Frey
Look for U.S. medical schools and teaching hospitals to be among the major players vying for medical tourism dollars, according to a recent report by National Public Radio (NPR). As an example, NPR said Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., recently launched a national advertising and marketing campaign promoting its cancer and heart disease treatments based on an individual’s DNA. Others with national campaigns include the University of Michigan Health System and the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas in Houston.
Shrinking reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid account for much of this new focus among teaching hospitals, according to Joel English of the Milwaukee-based marketing firm BVK. “To sustain their research and education and patient care, they have to extend beyond their traditional geographic boundaries,” he told NPR.
Destinations Keep Wellness Resolutions on Track
New Year’s health resolutions tend to falter by late January. So the travel site Cheapflights (www.cheapflights.com) came up with a Top 10 list of destinations that may help clients keep their wellness resolutions on track. 1) Reduce Stress: Body Holiday LeSport resort, St. Lucia; 2) Exercise More: Italy’s Dolomites region; 3) Spend More Time With Family: Quebec City; 4) More Time for Oneself: One & Only Reethi Rah resort in the Maldives; 5) Eat Better: Tokyo; 6) Lose Weight: Nubeginings retreat, Razines, France; 7) Save Money: Bucharest, Romania; 8) Watch Less TV: Great Ocean Ecolodge, South Australia; 9) Live a Healthier Life: Med Hot Springs Resort in Turkey’s Samson Mountains; 10) Stop Smoking: SHA Wellness Clinic, Alicante, Spain.
Healthcare Travel More Regional Than Global in 2012
Medical tourism is more about regional and cross-border healthcare than it is about traveling long distances – and this is not going to change during the year ahead, according to a recent article in the International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ) on projected medical tourism trends in 2012. In fact, if travel costs continue to climb this year, medical travel could become even more regional. IMTJ also concluded that medical tourists, like vacationers, will be more likely to rate and review their experiences online. The big question for 2012, it said, is “whether corporate or insurer paid medical travel will get off the ground.”
Medical Tourism Can Boost Depressed U.S. Regions
“If regions in the U.S. – particularly depressed ones – can build a reputation for specializing in specific areas of treatment and surgery, the economic and social impacts could be significant. Medical tourism can generate diversified job opportunities for regions, not just in areas directly related to hospitality and catering, but also in terms of jobs for nurses, doctors and specialists which results in a much higher value added to the economy. If specialty clinics like the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota can draw patients from across the nation on the basis of their specialization, expertise, research, reputation and patient success, then there is no reason others cannot follow suit.” – Simon Hudson, Center of Economic Excellence Endowed Chair in Tourism and Economic Development, College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management, University of South Carolina, Columbia
Taiwan Launches App for Med Travel
Taiwan’s Department of Health launched a new app service for medical travel that provides information on tourist attractions and healthcare facilities around the country. The app, which has an English-language version, covers information ranging from health checkups to cosmetic medicine, with a map service for each listed facility. Users can access information on the 31 medical and healthcare facilities under the DOH's international medical program. Now available for iPhone and iPad users, the App will expand to Android users in the first quarter of 2012.
. . . And Taiwanese Hospitals Strike Insurance Deal With Houston Firm
Four major hospitals in Taiwan have signed a cooperation agreement with Houston-based New Era Life Insurance Co. to provide medical services to the insurer’s American policyholders who choose to get treatment in Taiwan. The services covered includes health examinations and cosmetic surgery.
South Korea Ramps Up Med Tourism Measures
South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Korea Health Industry Development Institute launched a project to improve the country’s medical service system for foreign patients. They include incentives for the building and remodeling of lodging facilities for tourists at medical institutions; allowing drug dispensing in hospitals for foreign patients, and cultivating the medical workforce, including interpreters.