Medical tourism patients : Motives to get medical treatment abroad
The purpose of real medical tourists to travel abroad is to get quick and high quality medical attention or treatment.
According to Glinos, Baeten, Helble, and Maarse (2010) medical travelers’ motives can be grouped as follows:
1. Availability of medical and surgical treatments
Medical tourists go abroad to receive treatment when healthcare services are not available in their country of residence, when waiting lists are too long or when they seek higher quality standards of service or a more favorable legal framework in a particular receiving country…
2. Treatment costs
Medical travelers also prefer to travel and be attended where treatments are less expensive than in their own country of residence.
Some patients with no healthcare insurance policies simply cannot afford the costs of their necessary treatments at home (when vital or major surgeries, dental treatments, plastic surgery, etc…are needed).
Healthcare in the European Community:
On March 9th, 2011, the European Union published the Directive 2011/24/UE regulating patients’ healthcare rights within Europe so as to ease the access to cross-border sanitary assistance and ensure security and quality care at all times. This legal framework is seeking to guarantee patient mobility in the European territory, as established by the European Court of Justice, to promote cooperation between the healthcare systems of its state members.
The Directive states the right for any European citizen to be treated in another European country, providing this treatment is available in their home country, and be reimbursed -regardless of the cost incurred and of the financial plans agreed- as they would normally be in their usual area of residence.
3. Cultural considerations.
Hospitality and patient care are usually related to other fundamental factors like the geographical area of influence or the cultural attachment. From a geographical point of view, the immigrants will typically seek treatment in the country they consider “familiar” or close to their heart in detriment of their country of residence.
This is why mutual understanding and perfect communication are vital between medical travelers and the healthcare professionals in the receiving country.
4. Perceived quality.
Another motive for medical tourists to travel is related to the perceived quality of treatments which is defined, not only through objective factors like the certification and accreditation of specialists and of the hospital, the technological means or the specific quality assessments, etc…, but through what we call perceived quality which is linked to the individual attendance in centers by highly specialized international experts performing the most updated techniques, etc…
5. Cross-border care and services.
The global reorganization of some geographical international areas is leading to the creation of joint policies crossing existing borders, which makes it easier for people to travel from one country to the other and receive some kind of healthcare treatment abroad.
As we already pointed out, Europe is a clear example of such geopolitical movements and internationalization of services with its directive on the free circulation of citizens.
In their “U.S. Health Care Consumers” report, published in 2008, Deloitte shows that 39% of the people surveyed would consider travelling to another country, with similar quality standards to those offered in their home country, for a 50% costs reduction on an elective surgery.
However, according to McKinsey, only 9% of the medical tourists are looking for lower cost care. 40% of them are actually seeking the most advanced techniques and therapies that are not available in their home countries, a better quality care or a quicker access to these procedures.
Actually, only 10% of the surveyed patients declare they would travel for the sole purpose of a reduced price on the treatment.
Medical tourism patients : Who is the medical traveler ?
1. Social and economic standards of living
As we already pinpointed, medical travelers do not only seek the lowest cost treatments… and some patients looking for specific non available therapies in their home countries are usually better off, like the Russian and Arabic citizens for example.
Most retired Europeans have better standards of living because they have no financial charges to face and because their countries cover most of their social and healthcare expenses.
According to Hawkins, people of the middle and high social classes rate higher some services like patient attention and information given by the healthcare providers or the comfort of the premises during their stay.
2. Age groups
Many reports like those published by Lunt and Carrera in 2010 show that the medical tourist is usually a middle-aged patient with about 40 to 55 years old or more.
Older medical tourists are usually better off and more disengaged to travel than the other age groups.
When these tourists travel, they plan longer journeys than other traditional patients.
Furthermore, senior patients are more sensitive to factors like safety, social and political stability of the receiving country, infrastructures and they also consider the familiarity of the receiving culture with their own. All these factors add up in their perception of the service.
3. Stays and costs incurred in the receiving country
Medical tourism patients usually spend between 6 to 10 times more than other traditional tourists.
According to international experts in Medical Tourism, these patients usually stay longer too at the hotel or at the hospital (between 10 and 20 days on the average).
This average stay will eventually depend on the kind of procedure performed: patients with quite complex treatments (major surgeries…) will need stay longer than the outpatients, for example. However, in some cases, outpatients’ stays can be longer too: fertility treatments, minor surgery or check-ups appointments can be grouped together on a few days to meet patients’ needs.
At Vithas Xanit International Hospital, 40% of our patients are foreign.
Our philosophy is based on quality, safety, satisfaction and comfort.
Vithas Xanit is accredited by the Joint Commission International.
In most cases, surgery is performed with minimally invasive (MIS) techniques to guarantee a shorter and more favorable postoperative recovery, enabling thus our international patients to return as soon as possible to their home countries.
Our “International patients Service” provides individual attention and care to all international patients, 24 hours a day.
It works hand in hand with the other hospital services to ensure an individualized treatment and excellent medical care to all patients and their relatives during their stay.
(based on: EOI)