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An industry perspective on Canadian patients' involvement in medical tourism: implications for public health.

Johnston R, Crooks VA, Adams K, Snyder J, Kingsbury P - BMC Public Health (2011)

Bottom Line: Canadian doctors were commonly identified as barriers to securing clients.This situation may be echoed in other countries with patients seeking care abroad.This response must also acknowledge facilitators as important stakeholders in medical tourism.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada. rrj1@sfu.ca

ABSTRACT

Background: The medical tourism industry, which assists patients with accessing non-emergency medical care abroad, has grown rapidly in recent years. A lack of reliable data about medical tourism makes it difficult to create policy, health system, and public health responses to address the associated risks and shortcomings, such as spread of infectious diseases, associated with this industry. This article addresses this knowledge gap by analyzing interviews conducted with Canadian medical tourism facilitators in order to understand Canadian patients' involvement in medical tourism and the implications of this involvement for public health.

Methods: Semi-structured phone interviews were conducted with 12 medical facilitators from 10 companies in 2010. An exhaustive recruitment strategy was used to identify interviewees. Questions focused on business dimensions, information exchange, medical tourists' decision-making, and facilitators' roles in medical tourism. Thematic analysis was undertaken following data collection.

Results: Facilitators helped their Canadian clients travel to 11 different countries. Estimates of the number of clients sent abroad annually varied due to demand factors. Facilitators commonly worked with medical tourists aged between 40 and 60 from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds who faced a number of potential barriers including affordability, fear of the unfamiliar, and lack of confidence. Medical tourists who chose not to use facilitators' services were thought to be interested in saving money or have cultural/familial connections to the destination country. Canadian doctors were commonly identified as barriers to securing clients.

Conclusions: No effective Canadian public health response to medical tourism can treat medical tourists as a unified group with similar motivations for engaging in medical tourism and choosing similar mechanisms for doing so. This situation may be echoed in other countries with patients seeking care abroad. Therefore, a call for a comprehensive public health response to medical tourism and its effects should be coupled with a clear understanding that medical tourism is a highly diverse practice. This response must also acknowledge facilitators as important stakeholders in medical tourism.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Common Destinations Used By Canadian Medical Tourism Facilitators. Figure 1 shows destination countries commonly used by the 12 interviewed medical tourism facilitators. Solid arrows indicate primary destinations. These are destinations that are used on a regular basis. Dashed arrows indicate secondary destinations. These are destinations that are used sometimes, though not infrequently. The United States of America (USA), Cuba, India, and Thailand are all primary destinations for 4 facilitators. Mexico and Costa Rica are the most common secondary destinations, each being used by 3 facilitators. New Zealand, Malaysia, Barbados, the United Kingdom (UK), and the Bahamas are each secondary destinations for 1 facilitator.
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Figure 1: Common Destinations Used By Canadian Medical Tourism Facilitators. Figure 1 shows destination countries commonly used by the 12 interviewed medical tourism facilitators. Solid arrows indicate primary destinations. These are destinations that are used on a regular basis. Dashed arrows indicate secondary destinations. These are destinations that are used sometimes, though not infrequently. The United States of America (USA), Cuba, India, and Thailand are all primary destinations for 4 facilitators. Mexico and Costa Rica are the most common secondary destinations, each being used by 3 facilitators. New Zealand, Malaysia, Barbados, the United Kingdom (UK), and the Bahamas are each secondary destinations for 1 facilitator.

Mentions: Facilitators assisted their clients with traveling to a range of countries, shown in Figure 1. Estimates of the number of Canadian medical tourists sent abroad annually to these countries by the 10 companies varied widely due to demand factors, collectively ranging from 1030-1335 per year. Five companies reported client loads of less than 50 per year, with three having less than 20 per year. Two had loads of between 50 and 200 a year, and three had more than 200. Many emphasized that their client loads had grown rapidly. For example, one remarked: "...we had about 50 patients in our first year...and double that in our second year...and in the third year we're coming close to doubling that again. So in the first three years, you know, we went from 50, to 100 to 180 patients" (Interviewee 3). An expanding client load was seen as a sure sign of future growth by facilitators.


An industry perspective on Canadian patients' involvement in medical tourism: implications for public health.

Johnston R, Crooks VA, Adams K, Snyder J, Kingsbury P - BMC Public Health (2011)

Common Destinations Used By Canadian Medical Tourism Facilitators. Figure 1 shows destination countries commonly used by the 12 interviewed medical tourism facilitators. Solid arrows indicate primary destinations. These are destinations that are used on a regular basis. Dashed arrows indicate secondary destinations. These are destinations that are used sometimes, though not infrequently. The United States of America (USA), Cuba, India, and Thailand are all primary destinations for 4 facilitators. Mexico and Costa Rica are the most common secondary destinations, each being used by 3 facilitators. New Zealand, Malaysia, Barbados, the United Kingdom (UK), and the Bahamas are each secondary destinations for 1 facilitator.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3117713&req=5

Figure 1: Common Destinations Used By Canadian Medical Tourism Facilitators. Figure 1 shows destination countries commonly used by the 12 interviewed medical tourism facilitators. Solid arrows indicate primary destinations. These are destinations that are used on a regular basis. Dashed arrows indicate secondary destinations. These are destinations that are used sometimes, though not infrequently. The United States of America (USA), Cuba, India, and Thailand are all primary destinations for 4 facilitators. Mexico and Costa Rica are the most common secondary destinations, each being used by 3 facilitators. New Zealand, Malaysia, Barbados, the United Kingdom (UK), and the Bahamas are each secondary destinations for 1 facilitator.
Mentions: Facilitators assisted their clients with traveling to a range of countries, shown in Figure 1. Estimates of the number of Canadian medical tourists sent abroad annually to these countries by the 10 companies varied widely due to demand factors, collectively ranging from 1030-1335 per year. Five companies reported client loads of less than 50 per year, with three having less than 20 per year. Two had loads of between 50 and 200 a year, and three had more than 200. Many emphasized that their client loads had grown rapidly. For example, one remarked: "...we had about 50 patients in our first year...and double that in our second year...and in the third year we're coming close to doubling that again. So in the first three years, you know, we went from 50, to 100 to 180 patients" (Interviewee 3). An expanding client load was seen as a sure sign of future growth by facilitators.

Bottom Line: Canadian doctors were commonly identified as barriers to securing clients.This situation may be echoed in other countries with patients seeking care abroad.This response must also acknowledge facilitators as important stakeholders in medical tourism.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada. rrj1@sfu.ca

ABSTRACT

Background: The medical tourism industry, which assists patients with accessing non-emergency medical care abroad, has grown rapidly in recent years. A lack of reliable data about medical tourism makes it difficult to create policy, health system, and public health responses to address the associated risks and shortcomings, such as spread of infectious diseases, associated with this industry. This article addresses this knowledge gap by analyzing interviews conducted with Canadian medical tourism facilitators in order to understand Canadian patients' involvement in medical tourism and the implications of this involvement for public health.

Methods: Semi-structured phone interviews were conducted with 12 medical facilitators from 10 companies in 2010. An exhaustive recruitment strategy was used to identify interviewees. Questions focused on business dimensions, information exchange, medical tourists' decision-making, and facilitators' roles in medical tourism. Thematic analysis was undertaken following data collection.

Results: Facilitators helped their Canadian clients travel to 11 different countries. Estimates of the number of clients sent abroad annually varied due to demand factors. Facilitators commonly worked with medical tourists aged between 40 and 60 from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds who faced a number of potential barriers including affordability, fear of the unfamiliar, and lack of confidence. Medical tourists who chose not to use facilitators' services were thought to be interested in saving money or have cultural/familial connections to the destination country. Canadian doctors were commonly identified as barriers to securing clients.

Conclusions: No effective Canadian public health response to medical tourism can treat medical tourists as a unified group with similar motivations for engaging in medical tourism and choosing similar mechanisms for doing so. This situation may be echoed in other countries with patients seeking care abroad. Therefore, a call for a comprehensive public health response to medical tourism and its effects should be coupled with a clear understanding that medical tourism is a highly diverse practice. This response must also acknowledge facilitators as important stakeholders in medical tourism.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus