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What Is Medical Tourism?

What Is Medical Tourism?
(Photo : Unsplash)

Medical tourism has become a global trend that moves millions of people to different countries to receive medical treatment and surgical procedures of all types. This tourism sector represents several billion dollars globally, and it should increase by 25% every year during the next decade. Institutions that offer medical tourism, like the Riviera Institute, provide their patients with everything from innovative treatments to liposuctions, fertility treatments, and even hair transplants.

This demand is growing for several key reasons and can be explained, in part, to the aging of the population. Another factor is the growing middle class worldwide. This sector of the population is well informed, can research their options through the internet, and can be aware of the treatments that are available to them in other countries and their costs.

Medical tourism also includes travel for therapeutic purposes such as health services offered in spas, to receive private home health care, rehabilitation and, in general, for medical expenses that can be reduced if they happen in another country.

The reality is that, for people living in the United States, medical tourism in Mexico is a viable option due to its geographic proximity and lower costs. In the city of Tijuana alone, the wave of the so-called "medical tourism" has been so great in recent years that in 2018 this city received over 1.2 million patients that crossed the border seeking to resolve some kind of health issue.

In some cases, entire cities are undergoing a transformation, adding new hospitals, medical offices, and even hotels with hospital beds for recoveries, to the point where this has become the industry with the greatest growth and investment in the area.

The international demand for the low costs of medical services in Mexico has led to the diversification of what is offered, and specialties such as oncology, orthopedics, cardiology, general surgery, plastic surgery, outpatient processes such as dental or ophthalmological, and gastroenterology have grown to new heights.

In Mexico, there are currently about twenty medical clusters in nine different states. These encompass some 60 hospitals. The cities with the greatest potential in this area are Mexico City, Monterrey, Tijuana, León, Guadalajara, Chihuahua, Sonora, Yucatan, and Cancun.

Medical Tourism Encourages Economic Growth

The exponential growth of medical tourism in recent years, particularly in Mexico, can be attributed to four conditions:

  • The quality of private medical services

  • The favorable exchange rates

  • The price of treatments

  • The tourist attractions of the host country

There Are Two Different Medical Tourists

The amount of time that patients spend in the foreign country falls into two categories:

  • The day-tripper, who travels for a day to receive simple treatments

  • The tourist, who stays for several days for surgeries, hair grafts or a host of other procedures

Medical Tourism Is Delivering A New "Industrial Revolution"

With the aim of modernizing the delivery of healthcare, many technological advancements are now a routine part of medical tourism. Connected healthcare brings plenty of benefits to patients and their care. Telemedicine is also becoming a part of pre and post-treatment follow-ups; precision medicine and minimally invasive surgeries; digitalized lab results, and more, point towards a very promising future for the medical tourism as a whole and for Mexico in particular because of its geographical location.

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