On an otherwise pleasant evening during the first week of July 2016, a businessman who was a citizen of the United Arab Emirates visiting Cleveland for medical treatment was falsely accused of links to a terror organization. Officers stormed his hotel with assault rifles and handcuffed and arrested him-all this, apparently, because the man was dressed in traditional Emirati clothing.
PLoS One. 2013 Oct 24;8(10):e70406. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070406. eCollection 2013.
'Medical Tourism' - the phenomenon of people travelling abroad to access medical treatment - has received increasing attention in academic and popular media. This paper reports findings from a study examining effect of inbound and outbound medical tourism on the UK NHS, by estimating volume of medical tourism and associated costs and benefits. A mixed methods study it includes analysis of the UK International Passenger Survey (IPS); interviews with 77 returning UK medical tourists, 63 policymakers, NHS managers and medical tourism industry actors policymakers, and a review of published literature. These informed costing of three types of treatments for which patients commonly travel abroad: fertility treatment, cosmetic and bariatric surgery. Costing of inbound tourism relied on data obtained through 28 Freedom-of-Information requests to NHS Foundation Trusts. Findings demonstrate that contrary to some popular media reports, far from being a net importer of patients, the UK is now a clear net exporter of medical travellers. In 2010, an estimated 63,000 UK residents travelled for treatment, while around 52,000 patients sought treatment in the UK. Inbound medical tourists treated as private patients within NHS facilities may be especially profitable when compared to UK private patients, yielding close to a quarter of revenue from only 7% of volume in the data examined. Costs arise where patients travel abroad and return with complications. Analysis also indicates possible savings especially in future health care and social costs averted. These are likely to be specific to procedures and conditions treated. UK medical tourism is a growing phenomenon that presents risks and opportunities to the NHS. To fully understand its implications and guide policy on issues such as NHS global activities and patient safety will require investment in further research and monitoring. Results point to likely impact of medical tourism in other universal public health systems.
BACKGROUND: Medical tourism describes the private purchase and arrangement of medical care by patients across international borders. Increasing numbers of medical facilities in countries around the world are marketing their services to a receptive audience of international patients, a phenomenon that has largely been made possible by the growth of the Internet. The growth of the medical tourism industry has raised numerous concerns around patient safety and global health equity. In spite of these concerns, there is a lack of empirical research amongst medical tourism stakeholders. One such gap is a lack of engagement with medical tourists themselves, where there is currently little known about how medical tourists decide to access care abroad. We address this gap through examining aspects of Canadian medical tourists' decision-making processes. METHODS: Semi-structured phone interviews were administered to 32 Canadians who had gone abroad as medical tourists. Interviews touched on motivations, assessment of risks, information seeking processes, and experiences at home and abroad. A thematic analysis of the interview transcripts followed. RESULTS: Three overarching themes emerged from the interviews: (1) information sources consulted; (2) motivations, considerations, and timing; and (3) personal and professional supports drawn upon. Patient testimonials and word of mouth connections amongst former medical tourists were accessed and relied upon more readily than the advice of family physicians. Neutral, third-party information sources were limited, which resulted in participants also relying on medical tourism facilitators and industry websites. CONCLUSIONS: While Canadian medical tourists are often thought to be motivated by wait times for surgery, cost and availability of procedures were common primary and secondary motivations for participants, demonstrating that motivations are layered and dynamic. The findings of this analysis offer a number of important factors that should be considered in the development of informational interventions targeting medical tourists. It is likely that trends observed amongst Canadian medical tourists apply to those from other nations due to the key role the transnational medium of the Internet plays in facilitating patients' private international medical travel.
Whizar-Lugo V, Flores-Carrillo JC, Campos-León J, Parra-Beltrán P, Azamar-Llamas D.
J Anesth Crit Care Open Access 2015;3(4):00119.
Medical tourism is an ancient activity that was recently reactivated. It is a multidisciplinary complex matter that involves governments and private health care as well as lay people interested in facilitating this activity. The beginning of the XXI century has enabled this phenomenon and medical tourists intentionally travel from their hometown to a different countries to receive medical care. This growing international phenomenon has multiple legal, ethical, political, economic and medical facets. Minimal literature exists on this topic, including legal, ethics, cost, quality, postoperative care and complications for medical tourists. Anesthesia in these patients is a challenge that has not been properly investigated; it has many important aspects such as suitable pre-anesthetic communication, characteristics of other races with a wide range of illness and pharmacological response, physiological changes during prolonged trips like DVT/PE, the possibility of surgical-anesthesia complications and many more. Numerous questions remain unanswered and there is a need to review our anesthesia techniques. Keywords: Medical-tourists; Anesthesia care;