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 27: International medical travel developments within Thailand and Southeast Asia

Audrey Bochaton

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


Many countries worldwide are now using biomedicine as a domestically-based export commodity in order to increase future opportunities for their national economies. Most of the research conducted on this phenomenon known as ‘medical tourism’ mostly focuses on Western patient-consumers covering long distances to get medical treatment in emerging countries such as India, Malaysia and Thailand in Asia. However, many medical tourism destinations equally involve cross-border intra-regional medical travel originating from neighbouring countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia, and Lao PDR in the case of Thailand. This chapter investigates the development of International Medical Travels (IMTs) towards Thailand both at transnational and cross-border levels with a focus on Laotian patients. International medical travel flows emerge and exist based on specific contexts and unique material and geographical conditions. This requires studying the broader political, social and economic contexts shaping healthcare and leading to the promotion of places as healthcare destinations. Based on original relevant paradigms as ‘transnational assemblage’ (Wilson, 2010) and ‘national therapeutic landscapes’ (Ormond, 2013), the chapter outlines the genealogy of Thai healthcare and the changing political and economic environment during the twentieth century which provided Thailand with the conditions to attract a large number of foreign patients from different backgrounds.

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