Startups look to mainstream medical tourism
Start-ups in Europe and Asia provide online booking services for medical travelers, as well as other services in partnership with Airbnb, TripAdvisor, Agoda and other travel platforms.
About 14 million people spent $68 billion on medical tourism in 2016, according to consulting firm PwC. A growing number are Westerners headed to developing countries for cosmetic surgery or dental work, procedures that are less expensive and invasive than major operations and often aren’t covered by insurance.
Berlin-based Medigo GmbH has served 125,000 patients, says co-founder Ugur Samut. Many just want a second opinion, but Samut says “critical illness treatments” account for 30 percent of business, and he expects that number to hit 80 percent in five years. That could stem from Medigo’s allowing patients to leave reviews. (“I have no hesitation in recommending Silverline hospital and Medigo,” Peter wrote in February, referring to a hospital in the Indian city of Kochi. In June, Carol wrote of Silverline: “People were overall accommodating. … The nurses in ICU had very limited skills in English.”) “The more patients we get, the more experiences we are able to list.” Samut says.
Dhiraj Joshi, a PwC health-care strategist in Dubai, says the industry needs to get more people comfortable with the idea of getting major surgeries abroad by showing them that the care is as good and safe as at home. “For somebody to let someone else 3,000 miles away open their chest and do a heart surgery, that decision is never taken solely on convenience or cost alone,” he says. “This is a trick the medical tourism industry is grappling with and hasn’t yet been able to get past.”
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