Medical Tourism Explained
Most commonly used definitions:
The organised travel outside one‘s local environment for the maintenance, enhancement or restoration of an individual‘s well-being in mind and body.
- Carrera and Bridges (2006)
Travelling across international borders with the intention of receiving some form of medical treatment.
- Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
The main drivers behind the trend
This relatively new but rapidly growing trend is mostly fueled by:
- Convergence in skills and technology. Developing countries may offer same or better quality of medical services;
- Huge price differences. Costs of the procedures may often differ a lot between countries; this is especially the case in Europe.
- New ‘enabling’ infrastructure – fast, easy and affordable air-travel, as well as information exchange over the internet.
- In Europe, development of medical tourism is also fueled by the fact that no visas are required and borders may be crossed without a single struggle.
Most common treatments
As stated by OECD, it is apparent that the range of treatments available abroad for prospective medical tourists is wide, but mostly including:
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- Cosmetic surgery;
- Cardiology/cardiac surgery;
- Orthopaedic surgery;
- Bariatric surgery;
- Fertility/reproductive system;
- Organ, cell and tissue transplantation;
- Eye surgery;
- Diagnostics and check-ups.
Lithuania as medical tourism destination
One scientific work about Lithuania as destination country for medical tourism is done in the University of Amsterdam (author: Kondrackis, year: 2013) and has the title as consequent: Lithuania as Health Services Exporter. The paper indicates that there is lot of potential for the country to service foreign patients’ inflows. This comes from the fact that Lithuania can offer both low/affordable prices and high quality/capacity of healthcare:
- The all-inclusive prices of medical procedures (common amongst medical tourists) in Western/Northern Europe are from 92% to 141% higher than in Lithuania;
- Lithuania is one of the top countries in the EU by medical capacity and resources (measured in practicing physicians and hospital beds per 100,000 residents). This implies that additional patients from abroad may be serviced without losing quality or increasing waiting times.
|Country||Practicing physicians||Hospital beds||Healthcare Price level|
|Cross-country comparison of healthcare capacity and price|