USCIPP annual market update: 2018–2019

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The US Cooperative for International Patient Programmes (USCIPP) has published its latest Annual Survey of International Programmes in the US, covering 2018-19 and surveying 56 member hospitals. While a useful snapshot of some medical travel to the USA, it is so far behind the world events of 2020 and 2021 that the figures have to be used with great care.

The National Centre for Healthcare Leadership (NCHL) at Rush University is a non-profit organisation that operates USCIPP as a membership programme for 60 hospitals in the USA that operate in the international patient care market.

USCIPP conducts an annual survey of its members to evaluate the international patient and global healthcare collaborations markets. This annual survey collects information about provider services offered, financial metrics, operational metrics, volumes, and more.

The 2018–2019 annual survey of international patient programmes in the United States surveyed 56 member hospitals and health systems with established international patient programmes to collect information about their services, operational and financial performance, patient volumes, and geographic regions of home residence for patients travelling to the USA for health care.

There are many US hospitals not in USCIPP that offer healthcare to inbound medical tourists, plus thousands of clinics offering cosmetic surgery, dental treatment and other services; so the figures are not an indication of overall annual US inbound numbers. Not all USCIPP hospitals take part and those that do can be selective on the information they offer.

For 2018/2019 58,012 patients were reported by 51 organisations. These patients generated US$2.9 billion of hospital gross revenue. 15% of patients were paediatric and 25% of hospitals are specialist paediatric facilities. There were 14,449 inpatient visits and 155,015 outpatient visits.

International patients are referred to US hospitals and health systems via numerous pathways. For both new and returning patients, the most common referral sources were, in order:

  1. Self-referral
  2. Referral from a payer (including governments and insurance companies)
  3. Word-of-mouth
  4. Referral from a physician outside of the USA.

These four referral sources accounted for 75% of respondents’ patient volumes. The most common payment sources for international patient care included foreign embassy and government sponsorship, international commercial insurance, and self-payment. These three payment sources accounted for 85% of total international patient charges.

Further details from the 2018–2019 USCIPP survey include:

Sources of adult patients

  1. Canada
  2. Mexico
  3. UAE
  4. Saudi Arabia
  5. UAE

Sources of paediatric patients

  1. UAE
  2. Kuwait
  3. Saudi Arabia
  4. Mexico
  5. Bermuda

Sources of adult inpatients

  1. Kuwait
  2. Saudi Arabia
  3. Mexico
  4. UAE
  5. Canada

Sources of adult outpatients

  1. Kuwait
  2. UAE
  3. Canada
  4. Saudi Arabia
  5. Mexico

US politics directly affects inbound medical tourism, with Trump administration policies on China and Venezuela meaning that both countries produced far fewer medical tourists than in the previous year.

Main inpatient services provided to international patients

  1. Cancer
  2. Cardiac
  3. Neurosciences
  4. Women’s health
  5. Internal medicine

Main outpatient services provided to international patients

  1. Cancer
  2. Internal medicine
  3. Cardiac
  4. Neurosciences
  5. Orthopaedics