The Most Popular 10 Medical Tourism Destination Countries

Medical tourism

The Most Popular 10 Medical Tourism Destination Countries

What is Medical Tourism?

By definition of language, Medical Tourism is a trip for health reasons that are more likely to involve medical treatment, surgery and/or other medical actions, which are carried out for sufferers of a disease or disorder in their health condition. Medical tourism is generally a new form of tourism (Heung et al. 2011), or an organized trip outside an individual’s local environment for the maintenance, improvement, and restoration of health by performing medical interventions (Carl and Carrera, 2010).

According to data provided by the Director of Natural, Cultural and Artificial Tourism of the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, Alexander Reyaan, the differences between medical tourism and health tourism are:

Travel destination

In medical tourism, tourists will travel to receive treatment to treat a disease or condition. Meanwhile, tourists who undertake health tourism travel to maintain, manage, and improve their overall health and condition.

Holiday motivation

For vacation motivation, medical tourists travel based on obtaining access and quality medical care. When doing medical tourism, people will look for affordable treatment that may not be available in their original domicile. Then, health tourism actors travel based on their desire to live healthy, and prevent disease.
Not only that, people also travel to reduce stress, manage bad lifestyle habits, and/or have authentic experiences.

Tourist activities

In carrying out tourism activities, generally medical tourism actors will carry out activities that are reactive to disease, medically necessary, and supervised by doctors.
While health tourism, travellers carry out tourism activities that are proactive voluntarily, and activities that are naturally more directed to non-medical.
Meanwhile, activities included in the health tourism include a spa that includes massages and facials, yoga, culinary experiences by tasting healthy food, and walks in nature.


Bulgaria as a medical tourism destination.

Bulgaria’s major claim to fame as a healthcare tourism destination is the proliferation of high quality, low cost private clinics for medical treatments, cosmetic surgery and dentistry. Forced to keep prices low for poorly paid locals and competitive for foreign healthcare tourists in a crowded market, these clinics offer a significant saving compared to the more affluent European member states.

Bulgaria attracting close to 50,000 thousand medical tourists in 2019, and while that is not much compared to medical tourism powers, it is double the number from 2018. For a newly entered player to the medical tourism industry, this number is very promising, and heralds a rising medical tourism destination in the Balkan region.

As the trend dictates with new medical tourism players, the recipe for initial success rarely changes, and Bulgaria is no exception: They offer high quality medical treatments for low prices. Nearly all the medical procedures that Bulgarian clinics and hospitals offer are several times cheaper than their equivalents in countries such as UK, Germany, France, etc. 

Nowadays the physiotherapy sector is one of the best developed in the country. Thousands of people visit Bulgaria just to take advantage of the healing properties of the mineral water or healing mud that can be found on the Black Sea coast. As an added benefit, Bulgaria is known for its mineral and thermal springs that are extremely effective forms of natural treatment for rheumatism as well as post operation recovery.


Canada as a medical tourism destination.

Canada’s rank as number one in the 2020 edition of the Medical Tourism Index comes as no surprise as the second-largest country in the world boasts of a robust tourism industry that attracts more than 14 million Americans each year. Its proximity to the US affords the country a massive influx of tourists and patients who seek to bypass the long wait times and high healthcare costs at home.

Canada ranks high in its reputation for offering quality and highly-specialized medical treatments and top-of-the-line healthcare facilities. This has, however, created long waitlists for major medical services in the country, which has also set off a rise in outbound medical tourism in the country.


India as a medical tourism destination.

India is one of the cheapest countries for medical tourism. Bypass operations such as heart and other high-end medical procedures are the specialty here.

The difference with other countries, the cost here is very affordable but the medical experts are highly trained and the medical services and equipment are sophisticated. So don’t be surprised if approximately 100,000 people from all over the world come for treatment to India. One of its best hospitals is the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi, Delhi.

Apart from its low value for money, the country has a high success rate (98%) for cardiology at Harvard-affiliated Wockhardt Hospital which has performed more than 20,000 cardiac procedures.


Japan as a medical tourism destination.

Japan ranks as one of the most developed healthcare systems in the world, by every measure. Leading recent advances in technology and medicine, Japan continues to deliver top-notch healthcare services to citizens and foreign tourists, most of which come from mainland China.

According to the country’s Foreign Ministry, the number of medical visas issued to international patients jumped from 70 in 2011 to 1,650 in 2018, with medical visitors attracted to the country’s top-line cancer treatment centers and expertise in cosmetic surgery.
‍Low cost of care is also a major driver of Japan’s inbound medical travel. Hip replacement surgeries that cost $30,000 in the US are done at $4,126 in Japan, saving more than 70% of treatment cost in the US.


Malaysia Finance Ministry
Malaysia as a medical tourism destination.

Malaysia is often labeled as the most favorite medical tourism destination in the world.

Quoting from The Star, in 2019 Malaysia’s healthcare services scored 95 out of 100, and was ranked first in the Best Healthcare category in the world. The assessment is based on the International Living Annual Global Retirement.

Based on this assessment, Malaysia is ranked first with world-class healthcare and state-of-the-art infrastructure. From the assessment, it was stated that in Malaysia, patients don’t need to make an appointment to meet with a specialist. In fact, a patient who will be treated does not need to require a referral letter from a general practitioner.

So what factors make Malaysia an ideal medical tourism destination? First, the country offers mostly competitive fees. For heart care, for example, in Singapore, the usual cost is US$ 23,000, while in Malaysia it is only US$ 14,000.

There are approximately 70 health institutions or hospitals spread across Malaysia, for example in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Prince Court Medical Center in Kuala Lumpur was the best hospital of 2019 for medical tourists by the Medical Travel Quality Alliance.

Beside of quality health facilities, infrastructure and the use of English are also aspects of Malaysia’s selection as the best medical tourism. So that the patient companion feels more comfortable here.
In addition, the Muslim community in the world does not have to worry about pharmaceutical ingredients and medicines in Malaysia. Health services in Malaysia use halal ingredients. Like insulin doesn’t contains pork oil.


Singapore as a medical tourism destination.

Singapore ranks highly, in the 6th rank for its health system, become one of the favorite destinations for medical tourism. For cancer treatment, clinics and hospitals in Singapore are equipped with one of the best diagnostic methods in the world. Patients often visit Singapore for disease diagnosis and return home for therapy. John Hopkins International Medical Center in Singapore specializes in cancer therapy and provides a less expensive alternative.

Singapore recently set up International Patient Service Centers (IPSCs) that act as medical travel agencies to mediate between international patients and Singaporean healthcare providers.

Gleneagles Hospital is one of the best hospitals in Singapore, offering excellent medical services with state-of-the-art facilities and well-trained specialists.
‍Seeking health care in Singapore saves a patient 25% to 40% of what they would have spent on the same service sin the United States. For example, heart bypass surgery costs $140,000 in the US and $25,000 in Singapore. A hip replacement surgery which costs over $45,000 in the US can be done for about $13,000 in Singapore.

South Korea

South Korea as a medical tourism destination.

As the popularity of the South Korean entertainment industry increases, of course many people know that South Korea is famous for its cosmetic surgery procedures. This procedure is very widely performed, approximately 20 procedures per 1,000 people in a country with a smaller population with more operations than the total population per capita since 2009. Since 2009, the number of surgical operations they perform has increased dramatically after an operational technique called Tip Plasty was discovered.

Tip plasty is a surgical technique in which the size and shape of the tip of the patient’s nose is changed. Half of the patients are international patients due to the low cost and experienced surgeons in many surgical procedures such as face lift, hair rejuvenation and eyelid surgery.

But, South Korea isn’t only destination for plastic surgery and aesthetic medical tourism, there are other specialties include cancer, heart problems, internal organ transplants, and brain disease. The medical equipment available here is complete with non-medical support facilities for the patient’s family.

One of the hospitals that medical tourists are interested in is Chonnam National University Hwasun Hospital, South Jeolla Province. It is also known as the most beautiful hospital because it provides state-of-the-art medical care in a beautiful environment.

This place also provides additional facilities such as visa processing, transportation from and to the airport, translators, and culinary offerings.


Spain as a medical tourism destination.

Spain’s healthcare system is ranked 7th in the World Health Organization’s list of the most improved medical systems. 

In recent years Spain has become a popular choice for medical tourists. Many people have invested in Spanish property and own holiday homes by the coast so they can retreat to the privacy of their homes after having treatment. With excellent international travel links and a plethora of high quality clinics offering a wide variety of private medical procedures, Spain has emerged as a very popular medical tourism destination.

Spain has at least 35 educational institutions, that provide regular training for future medical representatives, and some of them are educated in European countries, as well. In order to get experience and recognition, doctors are working for public health institutions. Also, the vast majority of medical specialists speak in English. Some medical departments have temporary interpreters, that you can require in case there’s no one in the staff that speaks your language.

Prices are competitive, facilities are excellent and many of the surgeries and clinics are located in some of Spain’s sunniest locations so that patients can benefit from a warm and soothing environment for a relaxing recovery break after their surgery, such as in the sandy and exclusive resorts of Marbella, Torremolinos and Fuengirola in the sunny Costa del Sol returning home feeling well, rested and healthy.

United Arab Emirates

UAE as a medical tourism destination.

The capital city and the largest emirate in the United Arab Emirate, Abu Dhabi, has built a strong medical tourism platform that can see it emerge the best in the region.

The emirate launched the Abu Dhabi Medical Tourism e-portal in 2019 that provides international patients with details of all the medical offerings and healthcare facilities in the city. Prospective patients can also access medical tourism insurance packages as well as other tourist services such as hotel bookings, transportation, and recreational activities via the e-portal.

Healthcare facilities in Abu Dhabi comply with strict quality rules set by the city’s Department of Health, ensuring they deliver nothing short of top-quality care.

Not only in the capital, Abu Dhabi. One of the most popular city in United Arab Emirates, Dubai also

known for its ultramodern architecture, high-rise buildings, and luxury shopping. Dubai, with a population of more than 9.4 million welcomes more than 10 million tourists every year. The congenial environment and beauty of Dubai gives a boost to travel experience for millions of international patients that arrive Dubai for world-class care.

The Medical Tourism Index ranked Dubai the top medical destination in the Arab region, as it boasts of world-class hospitals and international doctors across several specialties. Dubai welcomes medical tourists mainly from Asia and neighboring Arab and Gulf countries, and some trips from European and African nations.

Dubai launched the Dubai Health Experience (DHX) in2018 to boost its medical tourism brand by strengthening its healthcare facilities and boosting patient experience through international patient departments.

Read also: 5 Easy Paperless Steps That Can Be Implemented Now

United Kingdom

UK as a medical tourism destination.

The UK ranks fifth in the global ranking of medical tourism destinations by the MTI. The UK is home to renowned medical institutions including the London Orthopedic Clinic, Birmingham Children’s Hospital, and the Cambridge Complex Orthopedic Trauma Center, known for top-quality healthcare services.

The UK is also a choice tourist destination center, welcoming more than 31 million international tourists every year, many of whom are attracted to the rich cultural heritage of the Great Britain.

Cost is also a key factor that drives millions of international patients to the UK. For instance, a knee replacement surgery, which costs over $30,000 in the United States, is done at less than $20,000 in UK hospitals.


Asosiasi Wisata Medis Indonesia (AWMI)

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