European nations continue to attract patients from North America, the Middle East and Africa and even Asia for treatments at some of the best hospitals and clinics the world has to offer. But, despite the best intentions of the European Union Cross-Border Directive on Care, few consumers and providers within the 28-member nation organization have tapped into the potentially lucrative cross-continental health tourism market. Have politics gotten in the way of access to timely or better healthcare for European residents? Or do complex and lengthy reimbursements methods hinder medical travel decisions? Welcome to this lively discussion of the state of domestic and international medical tourism in Europe.
Patients are travelling from all over Europe
Patients are mainly traveling within their own countries or cross-border. The industry is dominated by dental and cosmetic surgery patients, followed by those seeking Infertility treatment, Obesity surgery and Eye surgery. But with so much choice also comes confusion. Saving money is a strong driver in medical tourism but not the deciding factor in patients choosing a particular healthcare provider. Most patients have three main factors to consider;
- Quality of Healthcare
It’s not all about the medical treatment
Patients use the internet and a search engine to research their treatment options and also their whole patient journey. The experience will normally include pre-consultation, information exchange, travel, accommodation, language and cultural issues and post treatment support. Within Europe, costs and availability are fairly transparent, but quality is where the decision making process becomes more complicated.
Opportunities in Collaboration
Patient expectations are high. That is why healthcare providers need to concentrate on what treatments they are good at and collaborate with all stakeholders involved with dealing with an international patient. Just saying this is what you offer via a website or social media site is not good enough. Potential patients are going to want to see reviews from other patients that have made a particular journey choice and that it was the right choice to make. But there is no effective platform for that. Recognizing this, the Medical Tourism Association introduced an EU forum and stronger European medical tourism content into its 2013 World Medical Tourism and Global Healthcare Congress in Las Vegas. The forum proved hugely successful and a circle off collaboration was created.