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 26: Medical tourism: a case study of Thailand

Thinnakorn Noree

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


Medical tourism – patients travelling specifically to access health services abroad – is a growing phenomenon, but one that is under-researched. This chapter presents findings of the first ever study examining medical tourism based on individual patient data, and the most comprehensive analysis to date of the size, shape and impact of medical tourism on the health system and economy. It focuses on Thailand, one of the world’s foremost destinations for medical tourism. A cross-sectional survey of medical tourists in five private Thai hospitals was conducted, comprising 911 913 patient records, as well as a patient survey of 293 medical tourists. In addition, 15 hospital executives and 28 service providers in four private hospitals were interviewed. Findings show previous estimates suggesting over 1 million tourists per year were inflated. Medical tourists in Thailand are non-homogenous. The majority of them are likely to be opportunistic tourists who travel to Thailand with other purposes combining medical services. Most patients travel from within the region. They and their companions contribute to the Thai economy in terms of medical and tourism spending. This research identified no negative consequences for the health system.

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