International consultant Deloitte has conducted a strategic study for an unnamed client investigating the potential benefits medical tourism could bring to the New Zealand health sector and the wider economy. Findings highlight the competitive advantages and potential benefits of medical tourism for New Zealand.
- If the New Zealand health sector is able to attract medical tourists then the spare capacity in private hospitals could be filled with patients who bring a greater economic benefit to the wider economy. These medical tourists are likely to spend time in New Zealand after their operation recuperating, contributing further to the local economy.
- The greatest and most lucrative market concentration of potential medical tourists for the New Zealand market is the West Coast of the USA. With only a 12-hour non-stop flight from either Los Angeles or San Francisco it makes New Zealand relatively accessible in comparison with Asian countries involved in medical tourism.
- The level of care and skill level of surgeons and anaesthetists are similar to the U.S. in the core procedures being targeted for medical tourism. This is an important factor to reassure patients and medical insurers who are looking at offshore medical procedures that they would be receiving a similar level of care as in the U.S.
- New Zealand is an attractive destination because procedure costs are less than half the cost compared to the United States, which makes it more affordable for uninsured patients paying for medical procedures and also for medical insurers.
- New Zealand is a first world country with similar values and culture so is likely to make it a more attractive destination for medical procedures than countries such as Thailand, Korea, India and Malaysia.
Deloitte accepts that medical tourism, despite attempts to promote it to US customers, is so small as to be almost non-existent. It estimates that the current medical tourism market in New Zealand is very small, with 150 overseas patients a year. The New Zealand private health system could develop and capitalise on the competitive advantage identified. Opportunities to expand this potential market are now being explored by a number of organisations involved in private healthcare. Medical tourism as a viable way for private hospitals to supplement their current patients, and boost the utilisation of their hospital bed nights.
Agencies keen on promoting the country point out -
- It has a very low level of violent crime and murder.
- No terrorism problem
- Political stability
- Foreign travellers are welcome.
- Extremely low rates of the infectious diseases MRSA, hepatitis A, VRE, tuberculosis, and HIV.
- No need for vaccinations for typhoid, malaria, rabies, hepatitis A, and Japanese encephalitis. Traveling to New Zealand requires no vaccinations.
- The food is safe and the water is clean.
- Hospitals and clinics are clean and state-of-the-art, all using the latest technologies.
- English is the primary language, a factor that is so important when discussing a major medical treatment such as knee or hip replacement surgery.
- Direct flights from Los Angeles to Auckland in 12 hours.
For the second year running, New Zealand is the most peaceful nation on Earth, according to the findings of the Institute of Economics and Peace. The 2010 Global Peace Index ranks 149 countries according to their degree of peacefulness.