Medical Tourism and Emerging Markets (Th...


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“It is good to die in London.”
West African phrase meaning there is prestige in going to London for badly needed medical care.

Over the past five years or so there has been a lot of attention paid to the concept of “medical tourism.” Much of the attention and enthusiasm has been misplaced. The medical tourism sector is a relatively small, regionally based business that has been able to allure developers, investors, and patients to exotic locations and exotic fantasies.

The approach of this PHM Brief is to treat the subject with a sober seriousness too often lacking in the rush to gain corporate status and instant riches.

The idea of the jet-set rich flying in for plastic surgery is increasingly being replaced by middle class patients looking to save a few thousand dollars on hip replacements and other routine medical procedures.

Some hospitals routinely seek out 30%, 40% and even more than 50% of their top line income from medical tourism. Such figures routinely ignore the realities of civil strife, geopolitical interference, domestic hospital capacity, and so much more.

Are there countries and regions where “medical travel” has a place? Yes, and these countries have several things in common: a growing middle class, a sophisticated healthcare system, and political stability.

This PHM Brief also explores medical tourism as an international trade issue. Such a view would treat the flow of patients much like the products in a supply chain. Today unfortunately, the most basic import-export practices are lacking in medical tourism to the detriment of all. And sovereign risk is a risk that we explore in the context of medical tourism, a real and growing risk to investors and operators.

This PHM Brief is not a “how to” of medical tourism, nor is it a reference to the many companies vying for a piece of the business. But rather, this PHM Brief illustrates many of the realities that comprise the sector, the winners, losers, and the fantasies of medical tourism.

This PHM Brief is organized by region and country.

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