This week another medical tourism news story hit the
headlines. According to the New York Daily News, “Medical
tourism skyrockets...Turnover is expected to total $100 billion in 2012,
compared with $79 billion in 2010”.
I picked up the“news” story this week from various
sources; it’s been re-published multiple times over through re-tweets, LinkedIn discussions and blog postings.
Great news for those who are interested in investing in
medical tourism, or in expanding their medical tourism activities!
Or is it.......?
If you read it in the New York Daily News just last week, it must
If it was re-tweeted and re-posted by medical tourism
experts/consultants/advisers it must be true.... surely?
Here’s a great example of medical tourism hype and how if enough
people repeat something enough times, a myth becomes accepted truth.
Tracking down the source
Let’s track down how this news story arose and see if we can
separate fact from fiction.
I actually get a few mentions in the New
York News article (hey...that must add some credibility to the story...), so there’s a
clue to how this news story started. My quote “medical tourism is not global,
it's regional", and the other quotes are sourced from presentations made at
the European Medical Travel Conference in Berlin in April this year. The
“Turnover is expected to total $100 billion in 2012...” quote is based on a
slide from a presentation at EMTC 2012 by Dubai
The news item doesn’t have an author, so who actually wrote
it? And can we believe what they report? The source is stated as AFP RELAXNEWS.
This is a French newswire “dedicated to leisure and lifestyle”. A newswire
reports news (or creates news items...) that are then supplied to a network of
publications who cannot afford to employ sufficient in-house writers to provide
all of their content.
If Dubai Healthcare City
is quoting the data in a presentation... it must be true?
The speaker (quite rightly) references the source of the data to KPMG.
If it’s KPMG
data... it must be true?
Or is it.......?
Where did KPMG get the data?
Take a look at KPMG’s
Issues Monitor for May 2011. You’ll see this statement: ...”the global
medical tourism industry is growing at a rate of 20-30% annually, and by
2012...expected to reach US$100 billion etc etc”.
But... It’s not KPMG data.
KPMG is simply re-stating data that they have got from somewhere else (and they haven't checked out). The
statement is referenced to two sources. Here are the two sources:
- The first is to “Business Standard, December 11
Standard is an Indian newspaper. The article reads “the medical tourism
sector is set to become a $100 billion sector by 2012”. The article is again
supplied by a newswire (Press Trust of India) as opposed to being written by an
accredited journalist. It references a Frost and Sullivan “report”.
- The second reference is to a Frost and Sullivan
press release (not a report), entitled “Malaysia’s Medical Tourism Industry has
healthy vitals” published in April 2010. The press release contains various information
about the Malaysia market... but nothing about the global market.
Now, we’re getting somewhere... if it’s in a Frost and
Sullivan press release... it just has to be true, surely?
But...there’s nothing relating to the global medical
tourism market in the press release. It doesn’t contain the data that KPMG are
referencing.There's no report.
So, where has the data come from?
I did some digging with Frost and Sullivan to see where the
figures originate. There isn’t a published Frost and Sullivan report that states
“the medical tourism sector is set to become a $100 billion sector by 2012”. It
The figures were produced by a consultant working for Frost
& Sullivan who researched medical tourism for a client over two years ago. This is the same
consultant who stated in 2010, that Thailand received 1.7 million medical
tourists (that equates to one in ten visitors to Thailand being medical
tourists). You may be thinking...”that’s probably a bit on the high side”.
According to Frost & Sullivan, “there is no report on
this topic per se that would be available for public consumption”. They also
acknowledge that “there may have been areas that have inflated the numbers.”
Two year old data becomes today's news
Bear in mind that the figures whether they are fact or fiction or just wildly inaccurate were
compiled over two years ago... but they are news today and have been given credibility through Twitter, Li nked In, blogs and so on. I've no doubt they will continue to re-appear.
And bear in mind that there will be some who will use these "facts" to support investment decisions, new initatives and marketing spend.
So there you go... the message, as always, is... never
believe what you read on the internet about medical tourism numbers!
Date published: 24 May 2012
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