Medical Tourist's Perception in Selecting Their Destination: A Global Perspective

Article excerpt

Abstract

Background: The need for better healthcare has grown significantly in recent years. In addition, the rising healthcare costs in the U.S. and in many European countries have forced many patients to seek medical treatment abroad, which has created the demand for medical tourism. With little yet known as to the perception of a medical tourist's destination selection, this study aims to explore medical tourist's perception in selecting their destination while going for medical treatment.

Methods: Realizing the current need to examine closely the perception of medical tourists, this study had conducted a secondary study to collect data for assessing and identification of the key factors on patient's perception and destination selection criteria.

Results: The result confirms the existence of a very strong relationship between cost, service quality, treatment types and availability and marketing impact on the perception of the medical tourists' in selecting their medical tourism destination.

Conclusion: This study offers support for the proposed conceptual model and an empirical basis for comparison in future research.

Keywords: Perception, Motivation, Medical tourism, Cost, Treatment types, Marketing impact

Introduction

The need for better healthcare has grown significantly in recent years, which demands an increasing number of countries started promoting medical tourism (1). Furthermore, the rising healthcare costs in the US and in many European countries have forced many patients from these countries to seek medical treatment abroad. Consequently, the popularity of medical tourism has increased significantly in recent years.

There have been a number of published papers analyzing the travel motivation of the tourists, but most of these studies had focused at tourism in general (2, 3). There is very little literature that specifically looks at medical tourism. Due to the limited literature and empirical evidence on the topic, this study believes that, other related studies focusing on the tourist's motivation and criteria of selecting the destination would offer some constructive insights and information on the factors influencing the patients' perception in selecting their medical tourism destinations. Moreover, the academic era still lacks in apparent idea and concrete definition of medical tourism. Even though, few studies have proposed medical tourism framework (4-6), however, the evidence is not adequate.

Realizing the current need to examine closely the perception of medical tourists, this study aims to present the theoretical and empirical literature on medical tourists' perception in selecting their medical tourism destinations. In addition, this study aims to propose a concrete framework for medical tourism, which will significantly contribute to the academic era.

Literature Review

Medical tourism may be defined as the deliberate attempt on the part of a tourist facility (e.g. hotels) or destination to attract tourists by promoting healthcare services and facilities in addition to regular tourist amenities (7). Medical tourism is a form of cost-effective private medical care for patients mostly from developed countries who need surgical and other forms of specialized treatment (8). Another study elucidated medical tourism as the combination of products and services intended to encourage patients in preserving and maintaining their health through a mixture of vacationing and other form of recreational activities in a different location other than home (9). One more study classified medical tourism as the movement of a patient for getting services that help in recovering his illness, outside his own country for a period of time not less than 24 hours and up to one year, and the patient has no intent to work or reside permanently (10).

Medical tourism usually describes the phenomenon of the people from different countries traveling for medical services to other countries (11). …