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Health and Medical Tourism - Essay Example

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In the paper “Health and Medical Tourism” the author investigates health tourism as an increasingly popular trend in the hospitality industry, with considerable prospects for growth in the future. Health travel is a relatively new industry with the potential to create increasing numbers of jobs. …
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Health and Medical Tourism
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Health and Medical Tourism of the of the School/ Health and Medical Tourism Introduction Health tourism also known asmedical tourism is a relatively new dimension of the hospitality industry. Traditional routes to health care are changing as a result of health tourism, a new subcategory of healthcare. Medical tourism often integrates health care with a foreign vacation, thus “every year thousands of patients leave their homeland to seek treatment abroad” (Goldbach and West, 2010, p.52) . An important reason for health tourism is the financial savings that can be ensured by obtaining specific medical treatments from particular destinations. Patients’ travel is facilitated by websites and travel agents providing well-developed programmes which include all the required services from travel and hospitality to hospital services. With patients traveling around the globe, services have to meet international standards. Organisations such as the Junior Chamber International (JCI) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have instituted standards of care; however international health care requires a regulatory body. Insurance companies support health tourism, and increasing telehealth services facilitate patient-physician communication irrespective of location. With the increasing popularity of health tourism, greater promotion of global patient safety and legal support may be required. Thesis Statement: The purpose of this paper is to investigate health tourism as an increasingly popular trend in the hospitality industry, with considerable prospects for growth in the future. Health Care Tourism: A New Phenomenon in the Hospitality Industry Health travel is a relatively new industry with the potential to create increasing numbers of jobs and wealth. Travel for medical treatments includes the benefits of lower costs, shorter waiting times, different services, and the chance to combine recreational tourism with a check-up or an operation, while simultaneously providing patients with high quality care at an affordable price. Patients are no longer bound to their home country for medical attention. They are travelling to Mexico, India and Thailand for a heart bypass, and to Hungary, Poland and Malaysia for dentistry, states Reisman (2010). Doctors from across the globe are migrating to Britain, the United States of America and Canada to experience new challenges in their field. Hospitals are building new branches in Dubai, the Philippines and Costa Rica to see overseas patients without delay. Thus, the benefits to both importing and exporting nations are very high, as seen from combining academic perspectives from medicine, tourism, health economics, development studies and public policy. However, there is a need for regulation and support in order for best outcomes for the local population and for patients who travel abroad for treatment. According to Harrington (2007, p.81), “the globalisation of healthcare provision is having a profound effect on the British National Health Service (NHS). Developed as a state-run, taxpayer-funded service in 1948, it continued in this form for nearly three decades of post-Keynesian restructuring. Only from 1997, under the Labour government the basis form of the NHS began to change. Current British global reforms both impact and are influenced by the broader world-wide trend towards the marketisation of health care, and a more complete integration of health work into the global market. The Costs and Quality of Health Tourism The increasing popularity of medical tourism all over the world is due to several factors including the cost savings and recuperation in the sunshine. Some may go for treatment that they do not want their friends or family to know about, thus getting plastic surgery or other cosmetic treatments done anonymously. Others may avail of medical tourism in order to keep scars and bruises secret. The cost of surgery in India, Thailand and South Africa may be only one-tenth of that in Western Europe or the United States. For example, a heart valve replacement costing up to 100.000 pounds sterling in the U.K. may be available for 5,000 pounds sterling in India. Similarly, the costs of knee replacements may be 15,000 pounds sterling in the U.K., and only 1,500 pounds sterling in India. For elective procedures or simple health screening where the patient is not too ill to travel, medical tourism is being seen by more and more people as the best alternative. Ninian (2008, p.493) states that “a typical men’s checkup in the U.Kl. would include chest x-rays, ECG, lung tests, blood tests, sight, hearing, and a talk with a doctor”, costing up to 500 pounds sterling. However, the same tests in New Delhi may be for 100 pounds sterling. Tourists are confident of receiving the best medical treatment because private corporate hospitals in developing countries are on par with the best hospital facilities in Europe or America. New business models around the world are transforming the way governments around the world deal with “financing hospitals, recruiting physicians, reimbursing health care providers, and building adequate health care systems for current and future generations” (Nakra, 2011, p.26). These measures promote international standardisation of medical treatment and care. Conclusion This paper has highlighted health tourism as a growing phenomenon in the hospitality industry, benefiting both the developing and the industrialised countries. From the explosion of outward bound patients for receiving medical care from foreign destinations, it is evident that the field has immense prospects for growth in the future. Nakra (2011) reiterates that the medical tourism industry uses new business models to deal with increasing global health care challenges. As a consumer-driven trend, health tourism has to keep up with consumers’ requirements. References Goldbach, A. R. & West, D. J. (2010). Medical tourism: A new venture of healthcare. Journal of Global Business Issues, 4(2), pp.43-53. Harrington, J. A. (2007). Law, globalisation and the NHS. Capital & Class, 92, pp.81-106. Nakra, P. (2011). Could medical tourism aid health-care delivery? The Futurist, 45(2), pp.23- 26. Ninian, A. (2008). Medical Tourism. Contemporary Review, 290(1691), pp.486-494. Reisman, D. (2010). Health tourism: Social welfare through international trade. The United Kingdom: Edward Elgar Publishing. Read More
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