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Neil Lunt

In further developing medical tourism scholarship there is a challenge of linking together empirical insights to identify wider processes, relations and dynamics that are empirically founded without being empiricist. This chapter takes such a route, identifying and understanding the components of medical tourism on both supply and demand sides, and their implications. On the demand side this involves moving from singular transactions to a focus on enchainment and networks, and how information, treatment, and support are enmeshed within these. As medical tourism is located in the private sector without regulation and formal referral by public health providers, the role of informal linkages and pathways between patients and clinics is of central importance. For the supply side, the chapter examines organizational responses around service differentiation, integration and centralization.
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Neil Lunt

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Daniel Horsfall and Neil Lunt

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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Daniel Horsfall and Neil Lunt

This chapter presents a review of websites in order to explore the nature and quality of information that prospective tourists are subject to online. In the first instance, websites through which weight-loss surgery and dental treatment are advertised are reviewed. Here we find that these commercial websites often combine a ‘polished’ look with an authoritative tone. Alongside a ‘front of house’ similar to most commercial or retail websites, these sites also contain a substantial amount of information for visitors. Unfortunately, the standard of this information is extremely low, offering only partial coverage of issues related to medical tourism and downplaying, or simply not reporting, risks. Secondly, websites that purport to provide prospective medical tourists with important information that is not directly linked to the purchase of any product are reviewed. Sites such as those belonging to NHS Choices and the Department of Health, as well as consumer protection websites such as Which?, are reviewed with regard to the availability of ‘impartial’ advice that can be sought by prospective medical tourists. While misinformation and downplaying of risk is usually not an issue, the information available is still uneven and often incomplete. Neither commercial websites involved in the ‘selling’ of medical tourism nor more professional or informational websites fully equip the prospective medical tourist with sufficient understandable information with which to assess the benefits and risks of medical tourism. The chapter closes by considering the implications of this for medical tourists and whether and how medical tourism can be safely communicated.
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Neil Lunt and Daniel Horsfall

Medical tourism is an intimate clinical encounter, involving diagnosis and treatment, aiming at the achievement of a successful outcome. In focusing on outcomes there are a number of different themes relating to organisation and delivery of medical tourism, including the opaqueness of numbers and the epidemiology of medical travellers, the different motivations of medical tourists, the role of private sector providers, regulation, monitoring and reporting, and the internet in marketing medical tourism. The chapter is structured in three parts. First, it introduces the context of outcomes for treatments and discusses conceptual and technical difficulty. Second, it examines the evidence base around medical tourism outcomes to identify what we know about the results of treatment abroad. Third, it discusses the findings of an empirical study exploring the treatment outcomes of a sample of patients who had travelled from the UK for treatment abroad.
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Edited by Neil Lunt, Daniel Horsfall and Johanna Hanefeld

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Neil Lunt, Daniel Horsfall and Johanna Hanefeld

Travel for health benefits pre-dates the rise of modern medicine and existence of passports, harking back to porous borders and less institutionalized medicine. Alongside change in travel technology, scientific and surgical developments encouraged growing patient mobility during the twentieth century. In recent decades wealthy people from less developed areas of the world travelled to developed nations to access better facilities and highly trained clinicians, drawn by innovation and reputation. In what is predominantly a private sector there has been dramatic commodification of health and medical treatments. This chapter traces the shaping of contemporary medical tourism, including the strategic role of governments in supporting and promoting national interests, and demands for regulation.
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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.