An alternative to inbound medical tourism for hospitals is to expand expertise overseas. For the UK, where many international patients travel from the Middle East for treatment, more leading brands are taking the hospital to the customer. This has the advantages that capacity is not constricted by what the UK hospital can cope with, and the customer does not have to navigate ever changing rules on exit and entry.
The UK has healthcare expertise that is in demand globally. London’s Harley Street has become synonymous with high quality healthcare service providers, and many foreign nationals routinely flew into the UK for medical treatment. In more recent years however, the concept of taking the UK’s offer abroad has gained interest.
Examples of initiatives to encourage this move include the establishment of Healthcare UK, a joint initiative of the Department for International Trade, Department of Health, NHS England and NHS Improvement to improve global healthcare.
Moorfields Eye Hospital also now has a presence in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Moorfields Dubai opened in 2007 and operates in the Dubai free trade zone as a private commercial hospital owned by Moorfields London. It operates as a circular model whereby profits generated in Dubai can be returned to the parent and invested in Moorfields’ NHS services.
Moorfields Abu Dhabi was built in partnership with an Emirati company, United Eastern Group. Moorfields holds a 51% stake of the partnership, and the Abu Dhabi venture carries Moorfields branding and hosts Moorfields clinicians.
When it comes to expanding overseas, geographical location has to make sense. For Moorfields, Dubai and Abu Dhabi made sense as many patients based in the Middle East region used to visit London for treatment, so the hospital had an existing consumer base and demand for its services.