The New Medical Tourism Market


BOSTON (NCNP.ORG)- Medical tourism is a high-growth industry being driven by globalization and rising healthcare costs in developed countries. More than thirty countries in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe are serving millions of medical tourists annually.

Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, India and Philippines are the major destinations in the Asian medical tourism market. Thailand is more popular among Western European medical tourists for cosmetic surgery. Singapore and India specialize in complex procedures with India having a cost advantage and Singapore a technology advantage.

Global economic downturn has resulted in decline in visitor numbers in Singapore and the same holds true for medical tourists also. The decline is most among Indonesian patients, but is being compensated by patients from other places such as Vietnam and the Middle East. The private healthcare market in Singapore could witness a period of slower growth due to declining medical tourists.

The healthcare industry in Thailand has seen rapid growth in recent years, ahead of the country's GDP. In Thailand, medical costs are lower than in Singapore and also, it is a much more popular tourist destination. The cost of healthcare in Thailand is about five times lesser than it is in the US.

The Malaysian government is aggressively promoting medical tourism. It has extended the visa period for health tourists from one month to six months. Major hospitals in Malaysia are targeting new markets such as Vietnam and Cambodia.

India is one of the lowest cost and highest quality of all medical tourism destinations. It offers low-cost cardiovascular and orthopedic procedures, at about one-tenth the cost of similar surgeries in the US.

Taiwan provides high-quality healthcare at very competitive prices but is a slow starter. A liver transplant costs half as much in Taiwan as in Singapore. China is a key target market for Taiwanese hospitals.

The Korean government is promoting the nation's growing medical tourism industry and has set a target of 100,000 foreign patients by 2012. However, Korea is considered to be a latecomer in medical tourism industry.

This report gives an overview of the medical tourism industry with focus on Asia. It discusses the major medical tourist destinations like Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Philippines, Taiwan and South Korea and their respective competitive advantages.

Copyright 2009- National College of Physicians (NCNP.ORG)-All Rights Reserved


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  • Editor-in Chief:
    Alison Palmer

    Editorial Staff:
    Alison Palmer
    Laura Fitzgerald
    Kimberly McNabb
    Lisa Gordon
    Stephanie Robinson

    Creative Oversight:

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    Design Firm:
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    San Francisco, California

    Charles L. Berman
    Liz Di Bernardo
    Cris Lobato
    Elisa Howard
    Susan Lane

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