Healthcare Tourism: An Eye Towards The Future

The healthcare tourism industry has been witnessing a remarkable growth in recent years. There are a number of reasons for the continuous growth of this industry especially in the Asian and African countries. One of them being the lure of affordable medical care, along with the scope of enjoying the scenic beauty of tourist destinations. One of the renowned experts, Marvin Cetron, founder and president of Forecasting International, have marked the growing trend of medical tourism and expect it to pose a serious challenge to the Western healthcare industry in the near future.

It is necessary to have a glance over the Western medical or healthcare scenario in order to have a clear picture of the kind of competition that can crop up between the former and the Third World medical tourism industry. In some undeveloped regions of the world, the medical facilities are hard to come by, whereas in other countries, the public healthcare system is so overburdened that it would take years to get needed care. For instance, in countries like Britain and Canada, the waiting period for a hip replacement surgery can be more than a year; while in Bangkok or Bangalore, a person can find himself in the operation theatre just after landing the very same day! Not only this, the cost involving the total process is much less than that charged in Western countries. For example, a heart-valve replacement that would cost $200,000 or more in the U.S. costs a mere $10,000 in India that includes round-trip airfare and a brief vacation package as well.

Doubts are often raised regarding the quality of service offered by medical tourist destinations. But such arguments have no solid ground as the facilities and services offered by them are almost equal or even better than the Western medical services. There are hospitals and clinics that cater to the tourist market that are often among the best in the world. Most of them staff physicians who have received training from famous medical centers in United States or Europe. Bangkok’s Bumrundgrad hospital has more than 200 surgeons who are board-certified in the US, and one of Singapore’s major hospitals is a branch of the prestigious Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Statistics suggest that the services offered in some of the leading medical tourist destinations often exceed their Western counterparts. As for example, the Escorts Heart Institute and Research Center in Delhi and Faridabad, India, performs nearly 15,000 heart operations every year, and the death rate among patients during surgery is only 0.8 percent–less than half that of most major hospitals in the US. These figures are enough to clarify whatever doubts some skeptics might have on their minds.

The future prospect of healthcare tourism in developing nations thus appears to be bright as it is expected to acquire a loyal clientele in the US and other western countries. With more than 43 million US citizens without health insurance and 120 million without dental coverage, seeking medical aid outside their country would high on their priority list. Besides, there is an ever-increasing demand for cosmetic surgery and dental treatments in European countries. These operations are highly expensive out there and as such, more and more people are turning to the East for an affordable alternative. Thailand and Phuket have emerged as the most popular medical tourism destinations over the years

Healthcare Cost Savings – Health Facts and Figures Part 1

Healthy lifestyles can go a long way toward solving today’s healthcare crisis. These facts and figures give some clues as to where we can make some changes to prevent disease and cut healthcare costs.

One Dollar Saves Three

The federal government doesn’t keep track of statistics on how wellness programs can impact healthcare costs but some businesses have found that promoting wellness reaps handsome rewards. According to the Wellness Councils of America, a non-profit group that promotes healthy lifestyles, companies can save three dollars on healthcare expenses for every dollar they spend on wellness programs that teach employees to lead healthier lives.
Source: Wellness Councils of America

Lifestyle Could Reduce Diabetes by 87 Percent

The combination of losing weight, moving more, cutting out trans-fats, saturated fats and excessive alcohol, and eating more fiber could reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes by a staggering 87 percent. A modest 5-percent weight loss can lower risk significantly. The incidence of type 2 diabetes increased by 60 percent in the United States between 1990 and 2001. Treatment for diabetes and its complications consumes 10 percent of America’s healthcare dollars.
Sources: British Journal of Nutrition and American Diabetes Association

The Aerobic Cure

Aerobic exercise alone cured metabolic syndrome (sometimes called syndrome X) in 30 percent of people in the HERITAGE Family Study in Canada. The syndrome is a combination of elevated blood pressure, blood glucose, triglycerides, cholesterol and high waist circumference that significantly raises the risks of diabetes and heart disease. People in the study rode a stationary bike three times per week for twenty weeks.
Source: Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise

The Obesity-Cancer Link

Researchers have found 37 percent more cancer among obese women and 25 percent more among obese men, compared to people of healthy weight. Death rates for all cancers are 62 percent higher among obese women and 52 percent higher among obese men. Among obese women, risks for specific cancers increase as follows: breast 150 percent; uterine 200 to 400 percent; kidney 200 to 400 percent; pancreatic 200 percent; and colon 46 percent.
Source: Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource

Weight Gain Explained

Americans’ per capita daily calorie consumption increased by roughly 300 calories per person between 1985 and 2000. Grains (mainly refined grains) accounted for 46 percent of the increase, added fats for 24 percent, added sugars for 23 percent, and fruits and vegetables for 8 percent, while meat and dairy consumption declined by 1 percent.
Source: American Heart Association

Multivitamins Could Cut Medicare Costs

Medicare could save at least 1.6 billion dollars in the next five years by providing multivitamins to people over the age of 65. Cost savings would result primarily from fewer admissions to hospitals and nursing homes as a result of heart disease and infections such as pneumonia.
Source: Multivitamins and Public Health: Exploring the Evidence Conference

Calcium and Folic Acid Could Save 15 Billion Dollars

A study commissioned by the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance shows that the use of daily calcium supplements could prevent 734,000 hip fractures annually, saving 13.9 billion dollars in healthcare costs. Daily use of folic acid supplements could prevent 600 cases of neural tube birth defects, saving an additional 1.3 billion dollars. Foods fortified with calcium or folic acid offer an alternative to supplement pills.