Medical Tourism: Where it Began and Where it is Now
The Mesopotamians are the people who originally established medical tourism on planet earth.Medical tourism can be traced back to the third millennium B.C. The evidence shows that Mesopotamians traveled to the temple of a healing god or goddess at Tell Brak Syria in search of a cure for eye disorders.
Thousands of years later the traveling continued the Greeks and Romans would travel to spas and cult centers on the Mediterranean.In more recent times yet still approximately 15 years ago wealthy individuals from regions such as Europe Middle East and Latin America were traveling to the United States in search of the best medical procedures available.
After the tragedy of September 11th that type of travel slowed down due to stricter visa regulations making it more difficult to enter the U.S. A time after that U.S. citizens were the ones starting to travel. They would travel to destinations in Latin America Europe and Asia for dental care and plastic surgery procedures primarily.
A short time later U.S. citizens started scaling it up and traveling for more essential procedures such as organ transplants and heart surgery price being the main motivating factor. Around this time Canadians also caught onto the concept and started traveling for procedures like knee replacements and geriatric procedures.
They opted to travel rather than wait months or years for the procedures to take place at home. Another thing to note around this time and for many years Europeans were crossing the border into other EU countries to seek healthcare they needed.
Medical Tourism Industry Today
What is the difference between the medical tourism industry today compared with years ago? The medical tourism industry today is more prominent and well-known. People are traveling for essential procedures and it is not just individuals traveling for care. Nowadays employers are sending employees overseas governments are sending their citizens and insurance companies are offering overseas or even domestic medical tourism as an option.
Before the individuals would contact hospitals themselves and plan their own medical trip. Travel agents and others started to realize that this was happening and started to make a business out of it medical tourism facilitation. Many facilitators have sprung up over the last 10 years many have died out but the ones that have lasted are the companies with strong business plans and industry reputations.
With all of these entities involved the industry has become more organized and efforts are being made to promote the high quality and safety of hospitals around the world. The competition amongst hospitals has increased due to international accreditations and certifications such as Joint Commission International and the Medical Tourism Associations certification programs.
Many of the entities involved in selecting a hospital are looking at who has international accreditations. The Medical Tourism Association (MTA) and others involved have been fighting for education communication and transparency within the industry. With these efforts in place the medical tourism industry has become a global phenomenon and continues to grow in a healthy direction.