History and Growth of Medical Tourism

History and Growth of Medical Tourism
History and Growth of Medical Tourism
April 29, 2016

The idea of traveling for treatment began a long time ago in ancient Greece when Asclepius worshippers (a Greco-Roman god of medicine) made pilgrimages to Epidaurus temple to obtain healing (the birthplace of medical tourism). Seventeenth century saw the emergence of Pyrenees, a spa town where people went for health treatments. This attracted Europeans the most. However, the sole purpose of medical tourism in the past was for better health (sort of the last hope for a dying relative) but the trend is shifting from that. Recently, more people that make the journey do so on beauty purpose rather than for health.

Ancient medical tourism sites

Part of ancient civilization understood the importance of a mineral bath to the overall health of an individual. This explained why more than 4,000 years ago, the Sumerian constructed health facilities around hot springs. They also had temples with flowing pools, one of the models for the modern day water fountain. The Romans of the old also had thermal heat spas and therapeutic temples.

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Metamorphosis of Medical Tourism

As more people traveled to obtain healing, it necessitated the expansion of existing healing spots and erection of new ones. One of the spots that were birthed was Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn, which was a new opportunity for patients to get treatment. They also offered surgical operations which at that time could not be performed anywhere else. It took a creative mind in developed countries to standardize this practice, create specialization and diversify the type and the quality of services rendered.

Comparison between age-old and modern medical tourism

The idea of people moving from one place to another to seek medical attention for whatever reasons started only a few decades ago. Such travels in the past had to do mostly with a religious pilgrimage and the healing part was like a reward for responding to the call for the pilgrimage. The number of those that seek medical attention has also grown over the years. For example, in the nineteen-eighties, Costa Rica played host to a huge number of foreigners that came to the country to seek dental care. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, the figure of foreign medical tourists have grown to between twenty and twenty five thousand and the medical demand has also become more diverse. As of two thousand and ten, about 1.5 million Americans have participated in medical tourism.

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Opportunistic expansion in medical tourism

Medical tourism over many years was dominated by developed countries while developing nations watched from afar. However, by late nineteen-nineties, a heavy financial recession hit Asia. To get out of the mess, countries in South-east Asia proposed to diversify their economies. Medicine was one of the areas that saw heavy investment from Thailand government. Medical tourism today accounts for a major part of Thailand’s GDP and they receive medical tourists from every part of the world. The success of Thailand prompted other Asian nations to follow, and the sector keeps growing.

Future of medical tourism

Medical tourism is heading to that point where wellness will be perfectly combined with tourism. It will not feel like a boring medical experience but like going on a vacation with a surgery as a bonus. This may not be far off with Thailand already planning the merger of a five star hotel with a medical facility.

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Article highlights

  • Medical tourism has a great history of origin.
  • Medical tourism sites in the past were based on religious faith.
  • The causes of medical tourism in the early days were different from today.
  • The nature of healthcare service underwent a significant change over last centuries.
  • How medical tourism expanded from one continent to another.
  • The expansion in medical tourism brought revolutionary change in healthcare.
  • ┬áMedical tourism has a great prospect in future..
  • What led to the growth of medical tourism in Asia.
  • How the success of Thailand in medical tourism motivated other nations.

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