Generally, health care services prices rise when demand is found to increase in relation to supply. However, there are other forces also which play part & influence cost of healthcare. Political decisions like increased regulations & additional taxes can also impact cost of healthcare. Best example is the infamous ‘Boob Tax’ imposed on cosmetic surgery in the United Kingdom. Increase in lawsuits influencing cost of malpractice in insurance for doctors is another factor. However, it seems excessive taxes, over-regulation, & some other additional issues are at the root of this problem. Like any other industry, healthcare services also need competition in order to lower prices.
Drivers Influencing Health Tourism
Health tourism is direct fallout of globalization of healthcare services. Thanks to health tourism, healthcare services across the world have emerged up with vigorous speed. This rapid development is a result of interplay of several factors which are yet not clearly understood. Many questions tag along with this rapid development including the following.
- Why do people travel abroad for medical procedures?
- Which key factors are responsible for development of the international health industry?
Some factors which are found to influence growth of global medical tourism include the following.
- Affordability – Healthcare services come at such a high price for millions of people who are mostly uninsured & therefore they extensively seek better low cost options. Cost of health treatments are now tending towards to become a discomfort which is worse than the disease itself. This has resulted in a rapid rise of demand for health tourism towards provisions of quality & affordability.
- Availability – Another reason for people to travel beyond borders for healthcare services is unavailability of required health treatments in their country. This kind of travel is termed ‘need factor travel’, where people are found to go long distances beyond borders in search of better healthcare services.
- Accessibility – Availability is worth only when it is conveniently accessible to the needy. High demand for healthcare services in developed countries keep patients waiting for about 6 – 12 months on average. Inaccessibility often prompts patients seek better options which meet their quality & economy criteria. Health tourism destinations like India are providing standard quality at a low cost option, while making health treatments accessible without any waiting period.
- Acceptability – Travel to a foreign country for health treatments is a sensitive issue. There are social, political, religious & ethical issues surrounding medical journeys as well. Sometimes, this may be a problem to a majority of medical travelers & defining the right set of values can get difficult. This issue at times can make health tourism more difficult than finding affordable & available healthcare services.
- Additional Factors – It is quite natural that international patients seeking health treatments abroad expect the best of healthcare services. Important factors like receiving additional benefits can include personalized care, better hospitality, modern technology, latest medicines & better care. Benefits which a patient receives abroad make it easy for patients to choose their health tourism destination. These additional factors actually encourage & drive people seeking healthcare services abroad.
Other Key Drivers of Health Tourism
Other key drivers which have facilitated growth of global health tourism include the following.
- Modern Technology – Growth of healthcare services, generally depend upon technological development. Exceptional quality & standard health treatments can only be effectively delivered through the latest technological development & which includes communication & global transportation. Quality of healthcare services has drastically improved with the world coming together with help of technology.
- Low Cost – Attention to health treatments is more inclined towards insured patients & which results in shifting of costs. Patients not covered under insurance eventually face problems as costs of healthcare services are extremely high.
- Emergency Needs – Sometimes, emergency requirements of patients are not possible within their homeland. This also triggers search for other options which promote need for global health tourism.
- Change & Progression – Change & progression is not just exciting but essential to be competitive. Based upon this concept, healthcare service providers have brought about several changes which are essential. International patients are now provided with comfortable & luxurious stays, rather than the depressing general wards. Many patients following health treatments make use of recuperating in exotic holiday destinations within the country they are visiting for treatment. This exciting change of environment eventually helps them recover much faster.
- Demographics – Towards the second half of the last century, there has been a significant rise in population & which has as a result caused strain upon the availability of healthcare services across the globe. These demographic changes have also driven patients to seek health treatments in other countries around the world.
High Quality Healthcare Services in India
Over the past few decades, India has emerged as a leading global health tourism destination. Healthcare services in India score a full 10 in all the above counts. India features a large pool of highly skilled & well trained doctors & surgeons, many of whom are some of the best in the world. Healthcare infrastructure in the country is standing on a strong & robust foundation comprising of nationally & internationally (NABH & JCI) accredited hospital facilities which are well equipped with the best & latest state-of-the-art technologies which can handle any kind of emergency & provide the most complex health treatments for a variety of ailments. All in all, India today ranks as the no. 1 global health tourism destination & is the most alluring option for an international patient.