Medical travel is an important and growing component of the travel industry, and travel agencies can best serve this market by focusing on the special needs of medical travel clients.
That’s the view of the CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine International, Steven J. Thompson. Thompson will be a featured speaker at the Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference, June 20-21, in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Steven J. Thompson
The growth of medical tourism will be “measured,” predicted Thompson. At the same time, he said he sees transnational healthcare playing a role in improving the overall quality and accessibility of healthcare worldwide.
Thompson, who was recently appointed to the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, spoke with Travel Market Report about opportunities in medical travel and the forces affecting this sector of travel and healthcare.
What does your appointment to the Tourism Advisory Council say about health tourism's role in the U.S. travel and tourism industry?
Thompson: Medical travel is an important and growing component of the overall travel industry. The combination of international as well as domestic travel for healthcare services is a great opportunity for the U.S. travel industry and related commerce.
How does Johns Hopkins Medicine International view the growth of a global healthcare industry?
Thompson: In a measured way. People travel to Johns Hopkins for very specific high-end services that are often unique offerings of our faculty and facilities. Even in a growing market, the actual number of people who are able to travel for healthcare is very minute.
We see our role as working to improve health and healthcare throughout the world so that the vast majority of a person’s healthcare needs can be met within their own communities.
What is the level of consumer interest in medical travel currently and where is that headed?
Thompson: It is my feeling that there is relatively low demand for medical travel here in the U.S. It gets lots of visibility, but people would prefer to get the care that they need close to their home and family.
How can the travel industry and healthcare industry work together to serve those traveling for medical services?
Thompson: In many cases, people who do need to travel for medical and healthcare reasons have special needs, i.e. flexible travel times, physical accommodation for limited mobility, etc.
It would be a competitive advantage for those parts of the industry that are willing and able to accommodate those special needs. Travel agencies need to recognize the special needs of these travelers.
CONFERENCE WILL EDUCATE AGENTS
Agents can learn more about the opportunities in medical travel by attending the Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference, June 20-21 at the Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Co-sponsored by Travel Market Report and Well-Being Travel, the conference will provide in-depth education for agents about all aspects of selling to and servicing medical travelers, including how to tap the market.
Registration for agents is $199.