Table of Contents

Handbook on Medical Tourism and Patient Mobility

Handbook on Medical Tourism and Patient Mobility

Edited by Neil Lunt, Daniel Horsfall and Johanna Hanefeld

The growth of international travel for purposes of medical treatment has been accompanied by increased academic research and analysis. This Handbook explores the emergence of medical travel and patient mobility and the implications for patients and health systems. Bringing together leading scholars and analysts from across the globe, this unprecedented Handbook examines the regional and national experiences of medical tourism, including coverage of the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The chapters explore topics on issues of risk, law and ethics; and include treatment-focused discussions which highlight patient decision-making, patient experience and treatment outcomes for cosmetic, transplantation, dentil, fertility and bariatric treatment.

Chapter 3: Medical tourism by numbers

Daniel Horsfall and Neil Lunt

Subjects: economics and finance, health policy and economics, politics and public policy, public policy, social policy and sociology, health policy and economics


For many reasons numbers are at the heart of medical tourism. From an industry perspective it is essential to establish the scale of medical tourism so as to normalise it and the potential cost-savings so as to promote it. From the perspective of many national governments it is necessary to quantify the process so as to justify investment, chart growth, and demonstrate the impact on the national economy. And for academics there are a multitude of reasons to track the various numbers associated with medical tourism. This chapter opens by exploring the issue of costs, often portrayed as the key motivator for people to seek treatment abroad. Here we see that there sometimes exists a gap between the prices advertised online, the price quoted to prospective medical tourists and the final price that is paid. We reflect on the fact that whilst cost is an important factor for those who choose to travel, it is not always the key motivator and consider what this means for those providers that put costs at the heart of their marketing strategy. The chapter builds on the issue of costs and cost-savings by exploring whether the ‘fantastic offers’ provided by medical tourism providers are genuinely translating into large numbers of people travelling for treatment. Here some of the key figures quoted by both the industry and the academy are interrogated and in some cases exposed, before a tentative ‘total’ is put forward. The chapter then closes by considering how such figures translate into revenue.

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