Benefits of Participation in Global Healthcare
By Latha Rajendra Kumar, MD, PhD and Robin Yurk, MD, MPH
Medical Tourism Facility Operators benefit from participating in Global Healthcare. International customers provide a unique customer base with diversity in medical problems providing the facility with an area of expertise. Additional experience is produced along with additional revenue. New business opportunities (Figure 1) develop in the community with a new Medical Tourism Industry Professional network. Medical Tourism Facilities that are high quality are a source for new research subjects with an international population. New linguistic and cultural enrichment helps develop a unique medical tourism facility. “Countless patients and families come to the United States from abroad to seek medical care each year, yet few are familiar with their options for receiving access to language services – such as interpreting and translation – along with culturally sensitive care”. 2
Figure 1. Overview of International Business Opportunities
International Customers: International customers invite international patients, allow growth in reputation with international clients, and allow doctors working with their organization to broaden his already existing expertise.
Increased revenue for providers: The doctors/ surgeons can earn more money when treating foreign tourist than when limited to local patients. The increased revenue can lead to enhancement of local infrastructure. This leads to further attractions the CEO can offer to an international patient.
Providers gain experience: Professional can gain experience and improve his /her proficiency and skills. This results in improved confidence.
Community Benefits: The community can become renowned and eminent internationally. The distinguished reputation gained abroad can lead to personal satisfaction. This leads to professional success and a symbol of pride for their nation. Personal and professional prestige can lead to improved benefit to the community. The entire community will benefit by such transfer of knowledge and skills.
Medical tourism Industry Professional network: Travel agents also stand to benefit from the medical tourism business.
Increased research opportunities for international studies: Exploring the diverse nature of a national and an international population can make way to comparative studies. Correlation to unique diseases can be investigated, since different geographical locations have a varied habitat of people. For example in dental tourism, patients from different places may have unusual and dissimilar teeth structure depending on the vegetarian or non vegetarian food they consume. Thus, Global Health Care can bring unique comparisons under a common umbrella.
Linguistic Benefits: The medical facility operator and the doctors working have a great possibility to improve their vocabulary as they are dealing with assorted patients.
Cultural enrichment: It is a great opportunity for a cultural mix to take place beyond borders. An enrichment of traditional, intellectual, educational and religious values occurs. The international patient gets exposed to the values of the touring country and the medical facility operator gets representation of the cultural values of the traveling patient.
Improvements in Cultural understanding occur through participation in Medical Tourism. Cultural values are understood through attention to gender, dress, religious practices, food habits & beliefs. “Understanding of Culture in Medical Tourism is a two way process as the patient needs to understand the destination’s cultural beliefs as much as providers need to know and understand the patient’s cultural beliefs”.3
An international patient population derived from medical tourism requires Healthcare managers to pay attention to cultural safety in their facilities. Cultural safety has its origins to the deterioration of healthcare safety in the Maori community which was attributed to cultural differences. Sometimes racial discrimination due to the color of skin of the patient may require instituting practices to balance developing the right healthcare protocols for an approach.4 There are many unanswered questions in the area of cultural safety which can be a good focus for research studies and new protocols. An example is: Would the practice of cultural safety bring any difference? Are the providers of global health care aware of cultural safety in developing countries?
There is additional business and research potential involved in medical tourism which includes an overview of facts, revenue, availability, benefits, risks, recovery period for an international patient population. The United Nations provide an example of differences in patient populations in which the Japanese have a high life expectancy attributed to differences in dietary patterns.5,6 This information provides the basis for international research comparisons. Economic, Social Justice and societal impacts of the medical tourism industry are additional trends in the areas of business and research interests in Global Healthcare.7
Each country has its unique cultural heritage. Such is the exposure that a person obtains from the distinctive enlightening civilization, that there tends to be absorption of values, ethics and principles. Malaysia’s health spa industry successfully combines ancient Eastern therapeutic traditions with modern innovations. The country’s unique cultural mix is well-represented within its state-of-the-art spas, which offer the best of Javanese, Indonesian, Chinese, Malay, and Ayurvedic treatments.8
Medical Tourism Facilities promote the development of a unique patient population
along with development of new business opportunities in research, travel, quality, community. Cultural competence requires further definition in Medical Tourism. New cultural traditions are being integrated with Western medicine in geographically diverse places. In addition, diverse patient populations are requesting these services. New developments need to be made in the area of service quality through improved efficiency and attention to cultural competence and safety.
1. Medical Insurance Blog. Retrieved on September 27, 2010. Available at URL:
2. Nataly Kelly. Talking the Talk ~ Obtaining Culturally and Linguistically Competent
Health Care in the United States. Medical Tourism Magazine. Retrieved on September
30, 2010. Available at URL: http://www.medicaltourismmag.com/issue-article/talking-
3. Medical Tourism Magazine. Dr Prem Jagyasi, “Understanding Culture in Medical
Tourism” July 7, 2010. Retrieved on October 4, 2010. Available at URL:
4. Medical Tourism City. “Importance of Cultural Safety in Medical Tourism”, Medical
Tourism City, May 31, 2010. Retrieved on October 4, 2010. Available at URL:
5. United Nations. United Nations World Population Prospects: 2006 revision – Table
A.17 for 2005-2010. Retrieved on October 4, 2010. Available at URL: http://
6. MSNBC.Com. “Life expectancy rises even higher in Japan , Women born there can
expect to live 85-plus years.” Retrieved on October 4, 2010. Available at URL:
7. The Word Online. “UIW Becomes Home of Worldwide Research Center”Dr. David
Vequist. The word online, 2009. Retrieved on October 4, 2010. Available
8. “Medical Tourism Malaysia”, Malaysia Health Spas. Retrieved on October 4, 2010.
Available at URL: http://www.discovermedicaltourism.com/malaysia/health-spas/.