The element of medical interventions makes medical tourism a unique, niche industry that is separate from health and wellness, which may not always include the leisure and vacation aspect
Listed below are the key technology trends impacting the medical tourism theme, as identified by GlobalData.
The rapid advancement of mobile technology has resulted in more people having access to smartphones, and more countries increasing their cell phone infrastructure. A report by TripAdvisor revealed that approximately 42% of travellers around the world are “connected travellers”, having used a smartphone to plan or schedule a trip. The top medical tourism destinations are some of the most “connected” countries, including Thailand, India, Brazil, and Malaysia, making travel much easier for tourists who are using smartphones.
The increase in the number of travellers using smartphones to plan or schedule trips and the rise of “connected” countries have also paved the way for smartphones to become essential trip items. Over 60% of all travellers will use their phones to find their way around. Additionally, with better infrastructure and cheaper mobile services, medical tourists are able to easily navigate in a foreign country with advanced maps and translation apps, encouraging patients to seek care elsewhere.
Internet and social media
The internet and social media have become an integral part of people’s lives as it provides access to a plethora of information. Potential patients seeking care are now readily able to access information including information on prices, destination countries, trip planning, and other material that was once not as easily accessible.
In addition to access to information, the internet and social media have transformed the way that the medical tourism industry connects patients, physicians, and medical tourism agencies virtually and seamlessly, regardless of distance. Many factors that were once concerns surrounding medical care in a foreign country, such as language barriers, as well as general information about the country, facility, and prices, have now been alleviated.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
Large amounts of personal user information are continuously being uploaded into cloud systems. While this includes basic profile information, it also includes the history of content that is being viewed and uploaded, as well as content that the user is highly engaged in. Social media platforms and internet search engines have transitioned from allowing users to connect, toward being information and content viewing sources. Traditionally, users would proactively subscribe to content that interested them. With the development and integration of AI into cloud systems, tracking patterns of users’ behaviours allows social media platforms to fully tailor content that appears on each users’ interface without requiring proactive action from the user.
Hospitals and agencies are now leveraging ad companies that use AI in order to target potential patients anywhere in the world. This includes people who engage in or view content on the internet related to medical tourism and medical procedures. With the growth of targeted advertisements on people’s internet browsers and social media platforms, AI has aided in increasing the number of medical tourists.
Technology has enabled the advancement of telehealth, where healthcare services can be delivered remotely. Telehealth can range from the digital transmission of diagnostic scans to videoconferencing sessions between patients and physicians. Healthcare is no longer limited by physical geography.
For patients seeking health services oversees, barriers to treatment planning and both pre and post-operation consultations have been alleviated by telemedicine, where patients are able to obtain the procedure in a foreign country and receive follow-up care at home. Telehealth has encouraged patients to obtain medical procedures abroad, and virtual communication has allowed for seamless care to take place. This minimises some of the concerns of receiving health services abroad.
Cloud technology has transformed the digital storage of information, offering increased flexibility, automation, and reduced costs compared to traditional physical servers. With the growing number of Internet users that need to connect across different countries, cloud technology has also allowed for access to this information storage regardless of location. Cloud technology has enhanced medical tourism by allowing patients to seek the care they require and have their health information stored digitally. If they require details regarding their procedure for follow-up care in their home country, this information can be easily accessed.
This is an edited extract from the Medical Tourism – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.