Medical Tourism is not just a relatively new invention in terms of international healthcare, seeking to connect patients with doctors and medical facilities in other countries, but is also turning into a growing industry for countries in which the cost of providing medical care is greatly reduced in comparison to nations such as the US, UK and other European countries among others. Many countries, especially in Asia and the Middle East are attempting to spur on the development of their own medical tourism industries.
Countries such as India, Thailand, Singapore, Costa Rica and South Korea that have more established facilities catering to medical tourists, have demonstrated to many other countries that medical tourism is not just a feasible industry, but a profitable one too. Bd Travel has seen many other countries in similar regions and circumstances try to develop their own medical tourism market segments.
Malaysia has been very successful in nurturing the growth of healthcare facilities providing services to foreigners in recent years. With many staff at hospitals having been trained in the US and the UK, their ability to provide quality healthcare and English language capabilities have helped them bring in many healthcare tourists. This has helped grow the industry 30 percent over the last three years, from around US$120.3 million in 2010 to approximately US$162.3 million in 2012.
Similarly, the health tourism industry in Dubai has been growing at a healthy clip. Dubai has been focused on developing their healthcare capabilities for a number of years. In 2002, the country announced the Dubai Healthcare City initiative as a way to improve the healthcare facilities of the country by building facilities and a bureaucratic system that would attract leading foreign investment and talent to create hospitals, clinics, and laboratories that would improve the state of healthcare and spur development of the health tourism industry in the Emirate.
With the first phase of the Dubai Healthcare City having been completed in 2005, Dubai has continued to build and entice new healthcare providers to take part in the Dubai Healthcare City project to where it now has more than 2,500 professionals working throughout the project’s 2 hospitals and more than 90 outpatient clinics and laboratories. The Dubai Healthcare City had around 502,000 patients in 2011, 15 percent of which were foreign health tourists. The Dubai Healthcare Authority says this will put them on track to earn AED 6.1 billion (US$ 1.6 billion) in revenues from health tourism by the end of 2012.