Modern healthcare systems expect patients to act as consumers. Market principles, competition and choice drive the market encouraging greater public access to medical information and the growth of the healthcare ‘lay expert’. According to experts at the IMTEC 2013,greater consumerism and transparency in healthcare is resulting in significant changes in the trends and behaviour of healthcare tourists across the globe.
The International Medical Travel Exhibition and Conferences (IMTEC) will take place for the first time on 22-23 March 2013 at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco.IMTEC is organised by Informa Life Sciences Exhibitions, the organiser of the world’s second largest healthcare exhibition ‘Arab Health’, in strategic cooperation with the European Medical Travel Conference (EMTC).
IMTEC 2013 is a two-day conference and exhibition that will provide a unique and international platform for industry professionals to focus on the leading trends and developments within the Medical Travel world. With the recent appointment of its 2013 Advisory Board (www.medicaltravelexhibition.com), IMTEC is designed to become the “global umbrella conference” to independently represent the various country interests and different Medical Travel Associations working around the globe for the improvement of Medical Travel.
“The rise of affluent populations within developing nations creates increasing demand for access to the best hospitals, specialty clinics and other sources of medical care; be it in their home country or abroad,” says Mr. Woodman, the CEO and founder of Patients Beyond Borders and Advisory Board member at IMTEC 2013. “As a consequence, international hospitals are beginning to offer packages and discounts for medical procedures; a reflection of the increased transparency and consumerism finally visiting the global healthcare sector.”
“The "retailization of medical care" if you will,” adds Mr. Woodman.
Perhaps the most interesting trend for Mr. Woodman is that the travel sector is beginning show a concrete interest in medical tourism, with hotels, airlines and tour operators beginning to form partnerships with hospitals, associations and ministries.
“Recent examples include the Rosewood Hotel Abu Dhabi building a sky link to the soon-to-open Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and the Marriott Hotels teaming up with BIMC Hospital in Bali to offer patient services. Carriers such as Emirates and Turkish Airlines are also offering discounts to inbound medical travelers,” says Mr. Woodman.
However, the commercialisation of medical travel does come with a warning from other industry experts. “In many cases, consumers can just become the victims of hospitals and doctors commercial interests,” says Dr. Uwe Klein,Chairman of the newly launched IMTEC. “The question of ‘who is the best doctor?’ should always be the main consideration in the consumer’s selection process. Excessive governmental regulation in medical travel may work against and contrary to commercial interests. Similarly, we must consider that these types of ‘healthcare holiday packages’ may create the illusion that sub-standard medical care is acceptable because it is being marketed in combination with an excellent hotel and travel service. These points must be considered when discussing the future trends of medical travel.”
According to Advisory Board memberKeith Pollard, who is the Managing Director atIntuition Communication, “Patients in many countries are beginning to act as consumers rather than patients. In medical tourism, this is even more the case because much of it is self paid.It is important to also re-emphasize the European aspects of medical travel. The EU Directive means the opportunity to establish some pan-European standards for medical travel. European centres continue to be the preferred destination for many patients seeking high quality medical services where price is not the key driver. The key issue here relates to Cross Border Healthcare and how in reality the member states are going to implement the EU Directive by the 2013 deadline.”
Key global issues that will be debated at IMTEC 2013 include legal and ethical aspects of medical travel, the insurance perspective, market trends and mechanics, regulations and supranational standardisation in global healthcare, patient safety and quality of healthcare, the future of medical tourism, and much more.
For more information about the International Medical Travel Exhibition and Conference (IMTEC), please visitwww.medicaltravelexhibition.com or call +971 4 4072434.