Medical Tourism once broadly focused on provision of health care and emergency treatment provided by higher-income countries to less developed nations, has since expanded to include patients from many parts of the world to countries with the full range of health care system infrastructure and modernity. Medical Tourism (MT) has become particularly popular in the United States, mainly due to high living costs and costly health services and care. In the United States, a staggering 50 million people are uninsured and over twice as many are uninsured for dental care. Nevertheless, insurance may not cover specific treatments and many are unable to meet the financial requirements specified for medical procedures that they require.
Israel: A rising destination for medical tourism
The popularity of medical tourism is expanding globally mainly due to its greater capacity to provide safe, high quality treatments to those who cannot receive comparable care in their country of origin; many turning to India and Israel.
Therefore, Americans have many reasons for seeking treatment elsewhere - since it has also become easier over time to receive the treatment they need that is on average 30% cheaper than in the United States. They can also receive the quality and safety that equals national standards for the very same procedure. Furthermore, patients reap the benefits of getting medical care and treatment while they travel and vacation.
In the modern MT industry, international patients can be rest-assured that in nearly all countries, patients receive quality treatment in the same hospitals that also serve the local population. Services are provided by licensed professionals who maintain international accreditations that adherence to strict medical protocols.
MT is forecasted to expand even further, becoming an increasingly global phenomenon. Along with its growth, affordable and highly sophisticated diagnostic tools that guide the development of innovative treatments. Renowned specialists work with international patients; contributing to the growth of the industry and its success through expertise in specific branches of medicine. Today, an astounding 7 million people have travelled the globe for medical services for procedures like heart transplants to cosmetic surgery and dental care.
MT allows those seeking care to obtain treatment for conditions requiring procedures and processes that would be otherwise unobtainable in their home country; specifically in countries with a medical infrastructure, that lacks important resources for health care delivery.
The MT industry strengthens local economies and provides important employment opportunities of countries that offer medical treatment to foreign patients. Patients worldwide are drawn to new and efficient treatments that have become more cost-effective in places such as Israel and India – this includes complex surgical procedures. Other popular destinations for MT include Thailand, Singapore, and Mexico.
Medical tourism in India
India often attracts patients that require orthopedic and cardiac surgeries, as well as IVF and oncological treatment. Complications have arisen in incidents of malpractice, lack of comprehensive follow-up care and other difficulties that result in patients seeking services elsewhere. India also has a long rainy season (monsoon) that makes the country difficult to navigate due to weather conditions from May to September – which may affect a patient’s decision to travel to India, especially if the patient is living with a chronic disease.
India is emerging, creating new departments within government-managed facilities to serve medical tourists and working to improve the coordination of healthcare services. In addition, India aims to promote traditional and alternative medical care through the incorporation of yoga and ancient medicine - Ayurveda.
Israel: Top medical tourism destination
Israel’s rising popularity as a destination for MT originates from its dynamic tourist attractions, high quality and safe medical procedures and leading doctors, all of which continue to evolve, advancing its successful medical services. In 2014, the Medical Tourism Index (MTI) ranked Israel highly as third in a list of top destinations for medical treatment around the world. Israel uses the most modern techniques for medical practice through the incorporation of advanced screening techniques, laboratory analysis, and individualized treatment. In addition, Israel’s industry, pioneering in the production and development of bio-medical devices, such as the ReWalk exoskeleton.
Bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Israel is an easily accessible destination to access from many countries of the world. The beaches of Israel are among the finest in the world and enjoyed by patients who stay for post-operative care (following orthopedic surgeries, for example) who simultaneously can enjoy their vacationing period and save money on their medical care.
Israel has successfully established its medical presence on a global scale, including plans for developing Israeli clinics within Russia, as Israel is a popular destination for many Russian patients, as well as in Cyprus; where medical facilities in the countries seek to employ Israeli doctors. Many esthetic and reconstructive surgical techniques of Israeli doctors are implemented within hospitals across the globe.
As mentioned, medical successes in Israel, such as success rates for IVF (In-vitro fertilization) are significantly higher (25-30%) than global averages for procedures of this type and performed at a fraction of the cost than most other countries. Cardiac surgery is another main branch of medicine that attracts tourists to receive care in Israel with many successful bypass surgeries performed. In addition, a large proportion of Israel’s medical tourists come for various cancer treatments.
Furthermore, Israel is known as a country that is focused on health and wellness. The Dead Sea, a natural water source is rich with unique mineral salts, known to have miraculous healing properties to treat a multitude of conditions that range from eczema to rheumatoid arthritis.
Globally, medical tourism continues to flourish, with greater accessibility to innovative treatments and medical technologies, many foreign patients can take full advantage of what the industry has to offer. Before traveling for a medical procedure, all prospective patients should consider and remain aware of all possible complications regarding treatment abroad. Patients should ensure that the hospital of choice for treatment is fully accredited, equipped, as well as a trusted and registered medical tourism provider for safe and effective medical practice.
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