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McKinsey report on medical tourism

I recently came across this very interesting report by McKinsey on medical tourism. The report totally debunks some of the hype surrounding medical tourism.

Basically it says that the numbers that have been predicted for world-wide medical tourism (or the latest buzzword “medical value travel”) are inflated. McKinsey predicts that the total market for medical tourism is only about 60,000 – 85,000.

Part of this is also based on the fact that only about 40% of all foreign patients actually plan travel for medical needs. They say that the rest of the 60% foreigners getting treatment abroad are either expatriates or regular tourists requiring emergency care.

They have divided medical tourists into 5 distinct segments:

  1. Patients looking for most advanced technology (without regard to cost)
  2. Better quality care for medically necessary procedures
  3. Quicker access for medically necessary procedures (esp. from places like UK where the NHS has long queues)
  4. Lower cost care for medically necessary procedures
  5. Lower cost care for discretionary procedures (like aesthetic surgery)

They’ve also done some research on the flow of medical tourists (from which areas to which areas) and this is presented in a nice map.

The report goes on to discuss the impact of geo-political events on medical tourism. It also discusses some of the strategies that leaders in medical tourism adopt and the changes needed to increase this market.

For anyone who is in the business of healthcare (esp. medical tourism) this report is a must read.

You can find it here: Mapping the market for medical travel – McKinsey Quarterly – You might have to register (its free) to see the whole report.


  1. industry watcher

    May 28, 2008 at 4:15 PM

    The figures in the report are absolute rubbish

    They ignore most categories of medical tourists

    They laughably suggest that one in four goes to the USA.

    It is a total nonsense that 60% of medical tourists are either traveller or expats

    They sampled a handful of hospitals and daftly assumed that they counted for 80% of the world business

    They think the world revolves around Americans going overseas which is a joke as the numbers of Americans are les than 1% of the total

    They do not count Americans going to Mexico as medical tourists as the countries have a common border !

    Sadly some authors and agencies and hospitals have made over-inflated claims, but if you add up official figures you get over 5 million medical tourists, and that does not include health and spa holidays!

    Mckinsey’s report is only good for lining my cats litter tray

  2. Rahul

    May 28, 2008 at 9:50 PM


    Thanks for your comment.

    Can you give us an example of the kind of categories that these guys have missed out?

    Also, I don’t think that they’ve not accounted for travellers from the US to Mexico (or Canada for that matter.) If you see the map they’ve included you’ll notice that 27% of North American patients travel within North America.



  3. agree. Problem is finding the right location for treatment. Last year I had to get root canal treatment done. In US it would have cost me upwards of $1000. After checking with colleagues in India I got this done in India during a business trip for under $100. I would highly recommend it if you are visiting India for business. I got it done in Wockhardt Hospitals, Bangalore. Treatments in these countries works out cheaper and you can always combine with a vacation.

  4. Where can I get this article???

    McKinsey & Company and the Confederation of Indian Industry, 2007.cited in Laura Moser, “The medical Tourist,” and Bruce stokes, “Besides India.” National journal

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