Latest IMTJ report takes the temperature of the medical travel market

Our latest report, the IMTJ Medical Travel Climate Survey, takes the temperature of the medical travel market as viewed by those delivering services to international patients and provides insight into the nature of those businesses and what they offer.

Between September to November 2019, we contacted international patient departments, medical travel agencies and facilitators, clusters, training, consultancy, and accreditation businesses and asked them to give their view on the current state of the medical travel market and their thoughts on the future.

We’ve conducted the IMTJ Medical Travel Climate Survey on several previous occasions, so it also provides some insight on whether the market is changing. We compared the feedback from the 2019 survey with the results from 2016. You can of course buy the full report for just £200/€240, but here are a few nuggets of wisdom for free:

  • The leading destinations

Our respondents believe that the three main destinations for medical travel in terms of patient numbers are India, Thailand, and the USA. They also believe that these will still be the three main destinations in 5 years’ time. Are they right?

  • Best quality and services

In terms of quality and range of services, our respondents rate the USA, Germany, then Singapore as the best. The same three were chosen in the 2016 survey.

  • Influences on choice of provider

The respondents believe that the most important factors for a medical traveller in choosing a healthcare facility are: the expertise and qualifications of the doctor/dentist, followed by the cost of treatment, and comments and ratings by other patients. Interestingly, in our IMTJ Medical Tourist Survey 2019 that’s not what the patients say. Cost is MUCH less important to patients. The perceived influence of comments and ratings on choice of facility has risen significantly since 2016.

  • Market growth

People are really optimistic about future growth. One in ten respondents expect growth of over 25% per annum. Where’s the growth coming from? Cancer treatment, cosmetic and plastic surgery, dental treatment, infertility treatment and stem cell treatment is what they say. The same five treatment areas topped the poll in 2016.

  • Activity

Despite their enthusiasm, the results reflect the fragmented and “small business” nature of much of the sector. The majority of hospitals and clinics treated less than 100 international patients in the last 12 months. Less than 5% treated more than 1,000 international inpatients.

  • Challenges

We asked what they viewed as the major challenges that would restrict the growth of their business. The biggest internal factors were lack of marketing budget, financial constraints and lack of marketing expertise. The main external constraints were lack of government support for the medical travel sector, increased competition and the image of their country/destination.

  • Marketing

The largest proportion of the respondents’ marketing spend goes on web site content and on social media.  The importance of exhibitions and events has fallen significantly since 2016. Exhibitions and events are considered to be the least effective form of marketing. Investment in marketing continues to be small scale. Around half of the respondents spend less than US$10,000 per annum on marketing their international patient services only 7% spent more than US$50,000.

If you want to know more, you can buy the full report for just £200/€240

And don’t forget, our study into the experiences of over 1,000 medical tourists, the IMTJ Medical Tourist Survey 2019, provides insight into the nature of medical tourists – who they are, where they are from, why they travel, what they spend and what they think of the customer and patient experience. You can buy both surveys for a package price of just £500/€590.

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Keith Pollard
As Editor in Chief of International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ) and a Healthcare Consultant for LaingBuisson, Keith Pollard is one of Europe’s leading experts on private healthcare, medical tourism and cross border healthcare, providing consultancy and research services, and attending and contributing to major conferences across the world on the subject. He has been involved in private healthcare, medical travel and cross border healthcare since the 1990s. His career has embraced the management of private hospitals in the UK, research and feasibility studies for healthcare ventures, the marketing and business development aspects of healthcare and medical travel and publishing, research and consultancy on cross border healthcare.