The Future of Medical TourismBy Miriam Bello | Mon, 03/30/2020 - 12:58
Mexico has become an important destination for medical tourism. Factors like location and climate play a key role in boosting the country’s attractiveness, but something decisive is how the industry is spread out to make transpiration faster and easy. Mexico’s most common visitors for medical tourism come from the US and Canada, where medical expenses can still come at a very high price. Mexico’s prices for medical procedures tend to be around 40 to 65 percent cheaper compared to our northern neighbors.
Cities like Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez and Mexicali have the most concentrated flow of patient. Regions of the country like the Mayan Riviera or San Miguel de Allende in the Bajio also receive a significant flow. According to the Ministry of Tourism, Mexico hosts about 3 million patients from other countries seeking to receive medical treatment, which makes the country the second medical tourism hub and first dental tourism hub. Patients Beyond Borders estimates that between 400,000 and 3 million foreign tourists come every year to Mexico seeking mostly dental procedures and plastic surgery.
There are many factors that still need to be changed to boost Mexico’s place as a medical tourism hub like incentivizing the industry or having the right linguistic abilities. COVID-19, however, could change the reality of the sector. Medical tourism is still not strongly consolidated and most medical travel consultants, startups and small facilitator agencies have limited budgets and cash flow, which makes them more sensitive to fluctuations in medical travel flow. For many of them, this crisis could mean the end of their business. Medium-size medical tourism providers would have to possibly downsize their staff, reduce their spending and cancel their participation in events to brave the crisis. For large businesses like clinics, hospitals, hospital groups and the largest travel agencies that have heavily invested in an international patient business, this crisis would be significant but might pass soon.
When the crisis passes, established medical tourism destinations with governments and health bodies that learnt how to contain the COVID-19 outbreak may be seen as safer countries for patients looking at healthcare options abroad. The future of the industry is being reshaped and the results are yet to be seen. For now, many companies could see this as an opportunity for accreditation and for coming back stronger.