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The rise of ‘tour and cure’

RAK Medical Tourism.jpg
Several factors make international travel appealing such as the significant savings and high quality of care that it offers.

In the coming years, Medical Tourism is expected to make significant advances with intra-country and intra-regional health-related travel activities. Several factors make international travel appealing such as the significant savings and high quality of care that it offers.

Most medical tourists are people aged between 45-70 and are from places where healthcare costs have exploded in recent years. This includes people from Europe, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the U.S.

At present, there are more than 50 countries that participate in medical tourism with developing nations from Asia, Middle East, Latin America and Africa capturing a major segment. The competition is based on cost, quality, care, and tourism activities that each of these destinations offers.

Today, Asia Pacific dominates global medical tourism in terms of market share. Availability of high-tech equipment and growing government funding in the region is likely to continue to drive market growth. For example, Thailand, Singapore and South Korea continue to thrive as the medical tourism destinations of choice.

Furthermore, Latin America is anticipated to show a lucrative growth. Mexico and Brazil are anticipated to be the prime locations for medical tourism in the region. Companies here are also investing more towards the development of hospitals that are in-sync to U.S. standards.

Meanwhile, Europe is also expected to establish itself as a contender for a top medical tourism destination in the coming period owing to the rapid development of facilities in the Central and Eastern Europe.

Previously, the U.S. was an important location for obtaining medical treatment for international patients. However, increasingly comprehensive visa requirements have reduced the count in the past couple of years.

Medical tourism hub

The UAE is becoming a popular destination for medical tourism. The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has reported that Orthopaedics, Dermatology and Ophthalmology are the main types of medical treatments attracting tourists to Dubai, with most coming from Asian (37 per cent) or other Arab and Gulf Cooperation Council (31 per cent) countries. Many people come to Dubai for infertility treatment too.

Moreover, Dubai Healthcare City is positioning itself as a leading medical tourism destination and it works with industry players to attract more medical tourists from around the world. It occupies a space of more than 20 million square feet, attracting major American corporations and other institutions as key partners in numerous fields, such as pharmaceuticals.

Growth momentum behind medical tourism in the UAE is expected to continue over the years. The upcoming Expo 2020 and continued development of the healthcare sector are projected to drive sector growth in the near future, in addition to Dubai government’s target of attracting reportedly more than 500,000 medical tourists by 2020. The same number of medical tourists are also expected from within.

By 2020, Dubai is also reportedly expected to have around 34 pharmaceutical and medical equipment plants. With the value of the private pharmaceutical industry in the UAE currently estimated to be AED 5.9 billion, it is expected to reach AED 25 billion in 2025. The country also has a large number of accredited health organisations by the JCI.

The market is seeing a shift in demand from general hospitals towards specialty hospitals, such as Orthopaedic, long-term care and mother and child facilities. Prominent examples of such establishments are Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery and Medcare Women and Child Specialist Hospital.

As per the medical tourism index, Dubai continues to strengthen its position as a medical tourism destination, ranking 1st in MENA and 16th globally. This also includes the creation of initiatives such as the Dubai Health Experience (DXH) – the first medical tourism portal in the world that allows tourists to book their entire ‘medical holiday’ online, right from the procedure to flights and hotel.

Abu Dhabi is also establishing a medical tourism network to attract and serve patients from Russia, China and India. The growth of medical tourism bodes well for the expansion of the healthcare sector.

Sandier pastures

Within the UAE is Ras Al Khaimah, a safe and well-developed emirate north of Dubai with friendly people, natural landscapes and beautiful beaches. The emirate is home to RAK Hospital, a unit of Arabian Healthcare Group, which has established itself as one of the UAE’s most acclaimed private hospitals. Once you step into the premises, rest assured you can leave your worries behind, as you will immediately notice premium healthcare seamlessly merging with hospitality to provide true holistic care. The hospital has world-renowned medical professionals working in state-of-the-art infrastructure to ensure that a patient’s well-being is in trusted hands.

The hospital has a number of mechanisms in place to build itself as a medical tourism destination of choice and works tirelessly in defined markets to facilitate referral cases. For instance, in Nigeria, the hospital has tie-ups with hospitals and clinics in Abuja and Lagos, as well as with local insurance companies and corporate banks.

While in Ethiopia it has initiated tie-ups with key doctors and clinics in Addis Ababa and has tied-up with Ethiopia Armed Forces Comprehensive Specialized Hospital. The hospital is also hoping to tap into Ghana, Kuwait and Iraq.

The International Patient Experience at RAK Hospital comprises the following steps:

1. Get in touch: Contact RAK Hospital’s International Patient Desk via email: mail@rakhospital.com or phone: +971 7207 4444

2. Send your medical history: To assess your treatment, we encourage you to send us the results of your tests, i.e. angiography, or echocardiogram, MRI, CT Scans or the other documents for the further review and evaluation.

3. Online consultation or tailor making your treatment: Our doctors start by assessing your medical history and existing condition and will discuss the following:

– The best treatment for you.

– New surgical, minimally invasive techniques, ensuring reduced hospital stay and recovery.

– Physical therapy programmes for your speedy recovery.

– Making your flight back home pain-free and comfortable.

4. Arrange your trip: You can start to arrange your flight tickets. A visa to the UAE will be provided by RAK Hospital on submission of your passport copy and recent size photograph.

5. Arrival: An English-speaking RAK Hospital Representative will meet you at Dubai/Abu Dhabi/RAK/Sharjah Airport and transfer you to RAK Hospital.

6. Pre-Op/ Procedure check-up: The first examination will take place the next morning (general examination, ECG, echocardiogram, laboratory test, exercise, test).

7. Procedure: You will undergo the required procedures/treatments performed by a team of specialist doctors.

8. Post OP: After the treatment, you will stay the prescribed days of stay in hospital with one attendant (choice).

9. Leave to your country.

10. Medical Follow up. 

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