Recent decades have witnessed a quantitative increase in people mobility as people travel around the world not only to be attended in exotic holiday resorts. The recent trends have more to do with price, quality and the range of services offered.
Healthcare services are increasingly popular and many countries are seeking to attract these medical tourists to boost their industry. Spain is one of the emerging destinations on the international medical tourism market due to its touristic assets and highly professionalized healthcare services.
The private healthcare industry is grouping all private medical centers and companies providing healthcare services to patients. During the last few years, this completely liberalized Spanish market has seen an increasing demand due to its many advantages such as: the possibility to avoid long waiting times for certain procedures, top quality patient attention and comfort in very modern and relaxing facilities. Another of these drivers for patient mobility is a wider variety of alternatives and approaches to treatments that are not always covered by the public system of their home countries (dental procedures, aesthetics and wellness or fertility programs are some of these services).
Both the services lists published by the medical tourism providers and the data deriving from the surveys conducted by the OECD, Deloitte and McKinsey firms, show that the services most demanded by the medical tourists are:
• Fertility treatments
• Plastic surgery and aesthetics
• Dietetics and natural therapies.
• Anti-aging and aesthetics.
• Wellness: spas and nature-based therapies
• Care for dependent patients, rehabilitation support programs and services in residences
In Spain, some healthcare services like organ transplants, obstetrics and vaccine programs are not included in the catalogue of services offered to the medical tourists.
Why? Because the relationship between the obstetrician and the patient is based on a long-term follow up. As for the vaccine programs, they are controlled and managed directly by the Health Authorities in every country. According to the Spanish Organ Transplant Authorities (Organización Nacional de Transplantes), transplants can only be performed for Spanish patients or foreign residents legally established in Spain. Both the WHO and the European Council have ruled against the possibility of any “Transplant tourism” flux where patients travel to be transplanted organs that can be traded, or where the professionals, structures and medical centers attendance of foreign patients can be detrimental for their own national patients. And though Spain is the first country in the world to provide organs donors, many Spanish patients are appointed on the waiting list to be transplanted and some of them even die before they can be attended (depending on the type of transplant needed and on patient’s particular history).
The main medical tourism areas in Spain:
The major part of the medical tourism services are gathered in some Spanish geographical areas or hubs mainly located in:
• Traditionally touristic areas where the presence of foreign patients has generated an important demand in healthcare services (Mallorca, Alicante, Costa del Sol).
• Large cities: Madrid, Barcelona.
• Areas located next to natural frontiers: Badajoz
• Areas with highly specialized centers: Navarra, Asturias.
Apart from the healthcare services, any touristic program can be offered to the medical tourists, when bearing in mind both the patient needs and the possible effects of these activities on the healthcare treatments performed; actually, a patient with reduced mobility or post-treatment pain will probably not be able to participate in any touristic activity.
The main touristic services complementing the healthcare offer range from accommodation, gastronomy, entertainment, cultural and natural activities or sports.
Based on : Medical Tourism in Spain Survey – eoi (Estudio Turismo de Salud en España)