Medical Tourism and the Demand for Personalized Healthcare

Dr. Adam Tabriz

The epitome of suggesting increasing Public Expectation of Individualized Medical Care

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Photo by Nastya Dulhiier on Unsplash

Healthcare is personal; it has always been and will always stay that way. Human beings will do anything to recover from a disease, and more than ever, is prepared to live healthily and stay young. The desire to stay healthy and youthful is a phenomenon that perpetually thrives on personal expectations. And the advancing science and technology fuels that surge in objectives.

We all are patients by default; thus far, we are willing to find the best options we believe are the most appropriate. Although we often pursue our desires, we still repeatedly fail to get what we want, parallel to what we need at an affordable cost and comparable quality.

Limitations to how we would like to receive medical care are not always financial; neither is it merely about quality. It is continuously about options that are limited by economic, political, and social factors. Furthermore, it is about respecting individual opinions and a healthy doctor-patient relationship. It is even further about personalized medical care, something the population health system has perpetually flunked to offer during the last two centuries.

To fulfill the gap of expectation and limited options, patients even decide to travel. Because options vary from country to country and state to state, a patient may travel from underdeveloped to developed countries to receive quality care. In contrast, a patient living in a developed country may travel to a developing country for lower-cost services.

The Rising Statistics of the Medical Tourism Industry

People use medical tourism by traveling overseas with the primary intention to receive medical treatment that they cannot acquire in their home country for a diversity of reasons. In the past, medical tourism customarily referred to those who traveled from less-developed nations to major medical centers in developed nations for treatment unavailable at home. However, that is not exclusive to the case anymore. As mentioned earlier, millennials use medical tourism for many reasons, from cost to combining vacation and concierge service with the medical care they intend to receive.

Amid increasing consumerist attitudes and demand for options, the medical tourism market size and demand are rising. According to a recent estimate, the global medical tourism market size has been valued at $ 44.8 billion (2019). The expected market growth is estimated at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.1% from 2020 to 2027, at an accelerated pace over that period. Although lack of health coverage is a significant factor in the following trend, increasing demand for procedures such as gender reassignment operations, stem cell treatments, fertility treatment, dental restoration, and cosmetic surgery are typically not covered by insurance. That serves as a significant driving factor for the medical tourism market.

The availability of benefits, including better healthcare, the latest technologies, innovative medicines, modern devices, better hospitality, and personalized care, are market drivers.

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Adapted from: https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/medical-tourism-market

So drivers of the medical tourism market are forecasted by some scholars to be the growing compliance towards international standards of medical procedures, ease and affordability of international travel, Various packages, and discounts offered by the airline and travel companies to patients.

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Adapted from: https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/medical-tourism-market

The favorable exchange rates and economical prices, coupled with better hospitality services provided by the health tourism destination, will add to the affordability, thereby boosting the medical travel industry’s growth. Some of the additional market driving factors include but are not limited to the availability of high medical quality cardiovascular surgery, cosmetic surgery, orthopedic and dental surgery. As more sophisticated and effective quality medical procedures are being offered in developing countries at minimal cost, with significantly shorter waiting times, the demand for medical treatments among patients in foreign countries will increase in the future.

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Medical Tourism Market Forecasts | 2019–2025 Global Statistics Report | Published Date: August 2019

The Philosophy behind Medical Tourism

The fundamental reasoning behind medical tourism is that individual autonomy is a central player in medical service renderings. Before public access to the internet, the patient expectation was more or less satisfied by population health’s collective initiatives. However, with increasing access to the ocean of information and peer pressure on social media, a personal choice has become even more relevant for the millennium. That is why, in recent decades, medical tourism may equally denote people from technologically advanced nation-states who travel to developing countries for lower-priced medical treatments.

Medical tourism most often is for surgeries or similar treatments. Patients with extraordinary conditions may travel to countries where the treatment is better appreciated. However, almost all healthcare types are available to the medical tourism industry, including psychiatry, alternative medicine, and convalescent care.

Patients may also travel for policy reasons. For instance, although within Europe, therapy protocols might be approved by the European Medical Agency (EMA), several countries have established their review organizations to assess whether the similar therapy protocol would be “cost-effective.” Henceforth, patients face differences in the therapy protocols, particularly in the access of these drugs, which might be partially solved by the economic strength of the particular Health System.

Increasing prospects are reacting to today’s economic limitations and the global healthcare market. They chose to travel outside of their domestic country to seek alternatives for costly or burdensome to obtain medical procedures at home. Having mentioned that, the phenomenon of seeking out healthcare through international travel incurs a legion of potential moral, ethical, economic, and legal benefits, questions, risks, and problems.

High Patient Expectations are on the Rise

People are disheartening that health delivery continues primarily unchanged, despite enormous advances in other areas of their lives. People want access to healthcare that is as responsive and adaptable as shopping online. Meanwhile, the disposal of information and demand for healthcare is mounting. Increasing demand from patients for flexible, high-quality care, coupled with an increase in innovation, provides the next most significant change driver, that is, the cost.

High patient expectations are a significant driver of medical tourism, thus the personalized medical care, because the latter two phenomena share the same fundamental driver hence high individual expectation. The rising expectation does not merely apply to elective procedures and medical tourism. But it also embraces emergency visits.

According to a study issued in the “British Medical Journal,” the patient shows that healthcare expectations continue to increase. It lacks adequate management, particularly if we intend to improve outcomes and decrease liability. Appreciating patients’ objectives and establishing a patient-centered environment of care can reinforce their degree of satisfaction.

Undoubtedly, patient expectations propel the growth in on-demand personalized medical care, and medical tourism signifies such a trend. The Consumer centered Healthcare Delivery Model is Roaring as Consumer Purchasing Behavior Continues to Shift beyond geographic borders.

According to a British Medical Journal study, the rising expectation from patients’ behalf has resulted in surging complaints against physicians.

Adequate Patient Care and the urgency for Personalized Medicine

The traditional population health delivery scheme and the insurance-based reimbursement policy fail to address modern patients’ expectations. That is because population health overlooks the individual factors of health and disease by prioritizing the majority’s collective social indicators in a group or community.

The notion of ‘personalized’ healthcare is embedded in the principle that individuals possess subtle and unique traits at the molecular, physiological, environmental susceptibility, and behavioral statuses. For the same reason, they need to have every medical intervention administered to them tailored to these nuanced and unique characteristics. Thus, the motivation toward personalized healthcare, its historical precedents, and the emerging technologies facilitating it are overwhelming.

Medical Tourism is about what Patients Want, not purely what they Need.

Medical tourism is about the option, not an obligation for patients. Quality medical care necessitates patient-centeredness. Good doctors and nurses do try mostly to focus on every patient as an individual. But we beget a system around clinicians that makes it impossible to customize care the way it needs to be. We don’t have processes in place that are comfortable for the patients. We have built a technocratic monster by which patients are intimidated. Patients’ needs and wants for personalized and compassionate medical care cannot be overestimated. Patient diversity is striking, conferring the limited utility of general communication guidelines for the medical service.

When patients are asked about their healthcare encounters, they talk about their interactions with doctors. The doctor-patient relationship remains at the heart of people’s attitudes towards healthcare.

Medical Tourism is an indication of the Demand for Personalized Care.

The 21st-century healthcare practice is a discriminatory one. It utterly fails to satisfy the medical needs of everyone despite the escalating costs of healthcare delivery. Medical tourism follows personal demand and is not necessarily the outcome of a population’s health policy. Medical tourism is devoid of the corporate insurance monopoly, which has inhibited the healthcare trade for the past century. That is why, for the past decades, a growing number of world patients have turned to other countries for surgical and other medical care. Trade-in healthcare services, therefore, are now involved in countries promising first-class healthcare amenities at third-world prices. Medical tourism is about less bureaucracy for physicians. It is about the absurd coding system that doctors’ offices and medical facilities must use to be compensated by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies. And how complex situations are yet to become amid bureaucratic medicine.

Future of Medical Tourism

Based on what was described previously, Medical tourism is a high-speed drawing industry. Its growth drivers are factors that include an aging population, an upsurge in degenerative diseases, the shortage of access to quality healthcare services, growing healthcare costs, extended wait times, and ease of travel.

Medical tourism has gone mainstream, as thousands of patients make medical trips, undertake treatment outside their home country, and have easy access to information on the internet and greater media exposure. Even governments, employers, and insurance companies are more sending patients abroad for medical care. Adopting the latest technologies, such as telehealth, allows doctors to remotely monitor a patient’s vital signs or be involved in an online consultation with a far-away patient. A significant step in the industry’s ongoing extension and professionalization has established the Medical Tourism Association (MTA) in 2007.

Challenges of Medical Tourism

Medical tourism, despite the overwhelming rise in popularity yet is not without challenges. But patients searching for personalized care are willing to face such challenges amidst unreliable healthcare quality assessments in different countries, including a cost scale to the outcome. Medical tourists can expect inadequate information on and communication about the medical and legal uncertainties associated with medical tourism. Flawed policies inscribing the ethical concerns of recruiting international patients in clinical trials for risky or experimental treatments are of significant concern itself. Growing legal troubles associated with medical tourists, including malpractice lawsuits for treating international patients, is becoming more troublesome.

Takeaway Message

Every person has the right to choose the kind of medical care they see fit within the scope of their encounter with their physician. Personalized medicine is the solution to solve the growing conflict between healthcare delivery, the practice of medicine, and patient expectations. Traditional population-focused Healthcare has become more than ever-controversial; it is characterized as a passageway to providing patient care that concentrates on an entire community with a particular predetermined profile, rather than solely centering on individualized patient care. The option is the key to thriving personalized healthcare. The ultimate solution is to decentralize, personalize, and interconnect medical amenities. It’s time to redefine health and wellness to see modern patient prospects. Being Healthy for the millennial is yonder, avoiding sickness or healing from a disease.

#Medicaltourism #Healthcare #Medical #Personalizedmedicine #personal

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Adam Tabriz is a Physician, Writer, Entrepreneur, and public health policy, expert. He is an advocate for Personal liberty. The combination of his experience and expertise underlines his passion for advocating true “Personalized Healthcare” and “Healthcare without Borders.” His favorite slogan is: “Peace of mind would come to all people through the universal respect for the basic human rights of everyone”

San Francisco, CA
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