Academic journal article UTMS Journal of Economics

The Impact of Medical Tourism on the Quality of Organizational and Functional Changes in the Polish Healthcare System

Academic journal article UTMS Journal of Economics

The Impact of Medical Tourism on the Quality of Organizational and Functional Changes in the Polish Healthcare System

Article excerpt


In the era of globalization, access to international transport and the greater awareness of patients, health tourism is becoming more common. The origins date back to antiquity. During those times people not only travelled for religious reasons but also military and commercial; also to improve the psychophysical state (Lubowicki-Vikuk 2012). However, only in the XXI century through accelerating globalization and the impact of mass media, health tourism is developing at a rapid pace. The scale as well as a number of other factors affecting the nature of travelling, make it an innovative product. Moreover, it can provide an answer to global challenges as an instrument for solving health problems of the prosumers.

The process of making choices for priority objective is the hallmark of every healthcare system, which depends on the economic situation of a country. In order to circumvent a situation, where our health will depend on the capacity of the system, we try to get certain medical services another way. Taking costs into account, we can consider participating in health tourism. With the improving economic situation and the standard of life, the demand for health tourism began to increase in Poland. The diverse nature of the factors determining Polish health tourism, both economic and non-economic, the complexity of this phenomenon, increasing importance for the economy, encouraged the authors to write this work.

The aim is to analyse Medical Tourism, barriers, factors and to formulate recommendations for the Ministry of Health (MZ) and the National Health Fund (NFZ) in Poland. The work was based on the query of literature covering a range of interesting scientific and consulting information. In addition, an analysis on the situation of healthcare system in Poland as well as the impact of regulatory changes connected with the implementation of the Directive on cross-border healthcare (Directive 2011) were provided. For the purpose of this work it is assumed that Medical Tourism is the movement of prosumers (to other countries) in order to acquire health services of high (repetitive) quality, an adequate level of safety and competitive prices.


The phenomenon of looking for medical services outside borders has been known since ages. Medical Tourism is determined as travelling to other countries, aimed at treatment, rehabilitation and rest. Beginning of Medical Tourism is dated back to around 2000 BC. Hippocrates visited in ancient Greece the sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidauros (functioning since 6th BC to 2nd AD).

The 18th and 19th centuries are the beginning of increased Medical Tourism traffic, which consisted on visiting warmer places situated in southern France. A significant increase in the interest of Medical Tourism has been taking place since the 90's in the 20th century. Despite the fact that travelling with the aim of seeking medical services have been known for many years, observed in the last twenty years phenomenon of Medical Tourism on such scale, is something new. For the first time the "reversed globalization' was noted, which is based on the travelling of people from highly developed countries to countries with lower level of economic development, due to costs, quality as well as lack of benefits (Connell 2013). Currently, this "reversed flow" is the determinant of Medical Tourism.

The new concept of Medical Tourism, which was only formed in the 21st century, concerns these people who travel for the purpose of receiving medical treatment. Other important factors include the development of low-cost air connections, expansion of the internet, which is the main source of information as well as formation of Medical Tourism by increasing the share of both the private and public medical entities. In addition, the increased involvement of governmental institutions in the promotion of Medical Tourism is considered as an important source of inco me (Iordache, Ciochiná, and Roxana 2013). …

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