5 COVID-19 Medical Tourism Trends Healthcare Entrepreneurs Must Recognize

There are many things that you need to consider as the owner of a healthcare company. You need to understand the importance of sound marketing to maximize customers and get the best possible rates.

You need to stay on top of recent trends to implement an effective healthcare marketing strategy. Fortunately, there are a lot of steps that you can take to bolster your healthcare business, even during the COVID-19 era.

Healthcare Entrepreneurs
Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By fizkes | stock photo ID: 1703999134

Medical Tourism Trends Need to Be Understood in the Context of Healthcare Entrepreneurship

We talked about the importance of healthcare marketing in a previous post. However, presented it as a more static endeavor. The reality is more complex. You need to respond to recent trends, such as medical tourism changes, to market effectively.

Grandview Research has found that the market for healthcare tourism is likely to reach nearly $208 billion by 2027. What does this mean for your healthcare business? It depends on where your business is located and what customers it serves.

The medical tourism market size had been rising extremely for the last 10 years. This trend seemed stable and nothing could influence the rapid development of medical tourism. COVID-19 has turned everything upside down, and the healthcare tourism industry was among the first businesses that has been impacted. Thousands of people were forced to postpone or delay their medical procedures — it became impossible to get abroad for outbound patients because of travel restrictions across the world. 

It is clear that nothing is going to be the same until the vaccine is developed. However, the medical tourism market, like many other businesses affected by COVID, adapts to new conditions to survive.

Let’s consider the new medical tourism trends that appeared in the condition of COVID pandemic and lockdown.

Focus on the treatment of complex diseases 

In 2019, patients went abroad to perform plastic surgeries, give childbirth, have IVF in the best hospitals, treat cataract, etc. Nowadays, in COVID pandemic conditions, people prefer receiving medical assistance in their places of living or just postpone treatment for better times. However, those patients, who have rare types of cancer, need complex surgical intervention or new treatment not available in their native countries, cannot wait. In such cases, people find ways to get treatment even in the “closed” countries. Germany and Israel already accept medical tourists in their hospitals.

New entry rules 

Medical travel becomes more difficult for outbound patients. Some countries allow entering their territories only in justified cases. A negative PCR test for COVID or isolation for 14 days is also required. It is also expected that the vaccine (once it is developed) will be obligatory to enter most countries in the future. It will become one of the top medical tourism and world trends. So, a traveler will be obliged to provide proof of vaccination. A patient (or medical tourism agency) needs to carefully study the rules to enter a particular country to avoid misunderstanding.

Online consultations 

Remote consultations with doctors practicing in other countries have been available before the COVID pandemic. However, with lockdown implementation, this medical tourism trend has become highly-demanded. For a lot of patients, it is the only chance to receive qualified assistance and a second medical opinion. Sure, it is impossible to treat a patient via Skype, but this is a great opportunity to receive supervision and help from the leading world’s specialists. Nowadays, this is one of the main options to earn money for medical tourism organizations during the lockdown.

Doctors “exchange” 

To reduce the risk of COVID spread and help countries with poor medical system healthcare, highly-qualified doctors can travel to other countries and perform surgeries in place. This medical tourism trend will help to solve issues with a lack of knowledge and experience in local doctors. Such an expertise exchange will improve doctors’ skills and medical healthcare in poorer regions. This is also a unique chance for people who need complex treatment to receive assistance from the best specialists coming from any corner of the globe — Germany, Thailand, India, etc.

New medical tourism destinations 

A new reality opens possibilities for developing medical tourism in countries with flexible entry rules and favorable epidemiological situations. Less popular medical tourism places now get an opportunity to improve their healthcare system, renovate hospitals, promote doctors’ skills. In perspective, they have all chances to become alternative medical tourism destinations and create one more source of income. As a bonus, local citizens will receive improved medical services available in their native country.

Medical Tourism Changes Affect Healthcare Businesses

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost all businesses and activities across the world. The medical tourism industry was among the first ones that have been influenced by the coronavirus crisis. The financial losses are huge, and now this business is only starting to recover. To survive, medical tourism providers have to stay open to changes and focus on online services.