“ A growing number of Australians are choosing to go overseas, especially to Asia, for medical procedures in a trend known as medical tourism.” – (Source: SBS)
Life is a journey… Travel it well. However, some are not travelling for pleasures but seeking for an affordable medical treatment overseas. We are talking about the prevailing trend of Aussies seeking for quality healthcare from an outsider.
Since the Australian government does not support medical tourism, so people have to take the responsibility. They emphasis on the risks involved in going for medical tourism and that they are not to be held for any problems related to this field. 15,000 Australians have travelled to countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and India for treatments, and the majority of them went for dental work which is usually one-third lower than the home country even though including airfares and other accommodation expenses.
Market players like Global Health Travel and travel agencies have been bridging the gap by connecting patients with their selective list of doctors and hospitals in Asian countries via their online portal. It gives customers the option to research and book an appointment with respective doctors just a few clicks away. Following the local player, a multimillion funded German start-up called Medico also entered the market in 2015 by setting up a representative office in Sydney led by Jevgeni Pelota, an Australian medical-savvy who has many years of experiences in healthcare and medical tourism sector.
From the economic perspective, medical tourism reaps profits for destination country while reducing the growth of home country’s healthcare system. Therefore, this is a business dilemma for both government and other stakeholders within the health industry. Therefore at some stages, the government must act upon the trend. Some suggestions I can make about the issue are listed below:
1. The Australian government can imitate its ally from North America to export their high-quality medical care to destination countries by establishing Australian owned clinics, hospitals and healthcare system to cater their citizens at an affordable package thanks to the competitive advantage of labour cost from developing countries.
2. Australian healthcare system can focus on improving the most advantage medical treatment and market it as the world leader for a particular procedure that nowhere else can imitate.
3. Establish a strategic plan to marketing Australia as a medical tourism destination besides its well-known hospitality and tourism industry, in which government initiative play a critical role in facilitating this. For essence, visa process can be streamlined and medical tourists can extend their visa depends on the doctor’s requirement.