Today, many times we hear talking about health tourism, or medical tourism, a practice that seems to grow and be widespread regardless the social extraction, money, country of origin. Usually, we talk about health tourism when we refer to the choice to travel abroad and go beyond our national borders to seek health treatments; health tourism is a broad notion that includes also medical tourism.
Medical vacations. The advantages.
The reasons why very often people decide to travel are different; traditionally, health tourism was practised by people living in countries with cold and humid climates who needed spa towns and sanitariums where to find health-giving mineral waters, hotter climates and the sun. This happened in the 18th century.
After, health and medical tourism were mostly practised by people living in so-called developing countries travelling to developed countries, where they might find advanced medical treatments and structures unavailable in their home countries.
With the notion of medical tourism, we talk about an organised travel for the maintenance, enhancement or restoration of an individual‘s well-being, while medical tourism refers to an organised travel for the enhancement or restoration of the individual‘s health through medical intervention.
Nowdays, health tourism’s meaning has changed, since today it is mostly related to people that live in rich countries and search more affordable medical treatments abroad; of course, money is not the only reason to travel, and many times individuals are looking for medical services that are unavailable or prohibited in their countries, especially for reproductive treatments, surrogate parentage, cytoplasmic transfer or stem cell therapy.
Medical holidays. The economic savings.
Anyway, modern health tourism is mainly related to saving money, and the most sought after treatments are those of dentistry, cosmetic, cardiovascular, weight loss.
In this regard, all observers note how the medical tourism phenomenon is today strongly linked to the knocking down of travelling costs and the ease with which the technologies and the medical workers can move from one country to another.
There is no country that holds a monopoly on health tourism and every country can invest in this industry through specific policies such as, according to ‘Patients Beyond Borders’, investments in healthcare infrastructure, commitments to international accreditation, quality assurance, political transparency and social stability, excellent tourism infrastructures, state-of-the-art medical technologies, internationally-trained and experienced medical staff.
The word ‘tourism’ is used because people travel from country to country and sometimes they choose a holiday destination where join medical cares with traditional tourism activities.