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.