Dr Constantine Constantinides from healthCare
cybernetics puts forward a contrary view on the future of medical travel. Economic recession does not
provide a boost to medical tourism. In fact, we have seen the opposite happen.
“Have to” medical travel has run its
course…. In future, consumers will become medical travelers because they “want
to” not because they “have to".
I need to reiterate that I am a strong
believer in, and a champion of medical travel, as evidenced by my continued
investment of time, effort and money in the health tourism sector in general. Nevertheless,
I continue to disagree with some of the medical travel purists and their
This thesis predicts and forecasts the
continued growth (“in leaps and bounds”) of the “have to” version of medical travel.
“Have to” because of cost or maybe “waiting times”. The proponents of this
thesis are betting (and hoping) that the local or nearby healthcare providers
cannot get their act together to bring down costs and prices and increase their
efficiency (to reduce waiting times).
I strongly believe they are “brain blind”
And contrary to the predictions of quite a
few, economic recession does not necessarily provide a boost to medical tourism.
In fact, we have seen the opposite happen.
From “have to” to “want to”
“Have to” medical travel has run its
course. My bet is that local (or nearby) providers have received and digested the
message and are getting their act together (in order to stem the outflow of patients).
At the same time, I am betting that health consumers will still do
health-related travel but that this will be because they want to (as opposed to
Prepare to usher in the era of “want to”.
Industry-driven versus market-driven
For far too long, the medical travel
Industry has been arrogantly telling consumers what they need to do. Now it is
the turn of the market to tell the industry what consumers want to do.
And the industry needs to listen.
Consumers clearly prefer to do things
because they want to… not because they have to. And this applies to medical travel.
“Travel for Health”
versus “Travel also for Health”
…and “tourism” as a dirty word?
My other “bet” is that more will be
travelling “also for health” as opposed to “exclusively for health”… which is
also one more reason that I prefer the term “tourism” to “travel”. Of course,
for many of those in the medical profession, the word “tourism” is anathema and
its use borders on heresy. They feel that the word trivialises a very serious
(life and death) activity.
Even though I, too, am a member of the medical
fraternity, my contention has been that many in the profession suffer from a
complex of “self-importance”.
The leveling off of globality-induced travel for health
We have been attributing the growth of
medical travel not only to “need” but also on globality which makes the
movement of people and the sourcing of services abroad easier. My impression is
that today, globality-driven “needs-based travel for health” may have peaked. But
tourism which may include the consumption of health-related services has by no
A change in the direction of flow of medical travel
Finally, I need to refer to the change in
direction of flow with regards to medical travel). Whether it is as a result of
the “West’s Revenge” or other reasons
(the growing affluence amongst the Chinese and Russians, for example), we are
now, undeniably, seeing more East to West flow. We are also seeing a rise in
East to East activity (from one Asian country to another “better” Asian country).
And it is time for us to stop regarding
countries purely as “destinations” or “sources”. Today, practically all are
Dr Constantine Constantinides runs healthCare cybernetics, a “think and do tank” with a recognized competency in Health Tourism Integration and Development. His home base is on the island of Samos in Greece.
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