What is Medical Tourism?

Medical Tourism” is one of those phrases you might have seen in newspapers or online from time to time. It’s often seen alongside concepts like “repatriation” and “international medical transport”.

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But what exactly does it mean? A quick google search suggests many people aren’t totally sure:

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These are all good questions, though, so let’s explore some answers.

So… what does Medical Tourism mean?

In simple terms, it just means travelling outside your home country – or current country of residence – for medical treatment in another country. That could be for things like:

  • diagnoses and advice
  • scans and tests
  • prescriptions
  • surgery and procedures
  • therapy and rehab
  • palliative care

What are the most common reasons for Medical Tourism?

Quality and cost are two of the biggest reasons. Countries like the US, Germany, the UK and the UAE are renowned around the world for their private health services, while various other countries are becoming well-known for offering accredited healthcare at lower price points. But other factors are involved too. Some people travel for technologies and specialisms that aren’t available at home; others simply want to bring a loved one home so they can be closer to them while they receive treatment in a local hospital.

How many people are doing this?

Short answer: a lot of people. The organization Patients Beyond Borders estimates that more than 21 million patients crossed international borders for treatment in 2019. They put the size of the global market for medical tourism at up to $92 billion, and estimate that (pandemic years aside) it’s growing at a rate of about 15-25% a year.

Does EMS Air Ambulance & Medical Repatriation offer Medical Tourism?

Yes. Our whole ethos as a company is about helping people get abroad quickly and safely for the best possible medical care – whether that’s an emergency flight by air ambulance or a long-planned trip for surgery or ongoing treatment. We take people all over the world, every month, for cancer procedures, heart surgery, neurological operations and many other treatments.

Does that include cosmetic surgery?

No. While you sometimes hear people using “Medical Tourism” to include cosmetic procedures – hair transplants, breast enlargements, dental work and so on – EMS Air Ambulance & Medical Repatriation doesn’t offer transports for these types of treatment. Our service is specifically designed for people who need to travel abroad for medical care. Having said that, we do sometimes step in to help patients who’ve developed complications (such as sepsis) from cosmetic surgery and need to get home for urgent medical care – as happened with this patient who ran into problems on holiday in Turkey a few years ago.

Will EMS arrange my medical treatment?

No. Although our transport is a comprehensive “bed-to-bed” service, we ask that you arrange and book your patient’s treatment in the foreign clinic or hospital. We’ll take care of everything between point A and B: permissions, acceptance forms, flights, tickets, connections, and more.

That said, we are very happy to offer you recommendations if you need help finding a high-quality healthcare provider abroad. We work regularly with some of the most renowned medical facilities in the world.

I’m interested in finding out more: who do I contact?

If Medical Tourism sounds like what you’re looking for and you’d like to know how we can help, call or email the EMS experts and we can discuss the options with you – you’ll find all our global messaging addresses on our website Contact page, and we’re available 24/7. We can talk you through things like:

  • Clinics – where would you like to go? We can provide hospital recommendations if it’s helpful
  • Transport – how would you like to get there: by road ambulance, medical escort or private jet?
  • Passengers – who else would like to travel? We can take up to eight passengers on some planes
  • Travel permissions – will you need a visa? We can help you with that too (including Visa-on-Arrival)
  • Price – how much will it cost? We’ll send you a quote for your transport, usually within 60 mins

Want a quick price estimate without even calling us?

Try the Cost Calculator on our website. It’s simple to understand and takes only two steps to complete. Just fill out your starting point and destination, and your contact details, and you’ll soon receive an email from us with pricing estimates for travelling by road, air ambulance or medical escort. Need help filling it out? Hop over to this article on our Blog, How to use the EMS cost calculator.

Whatever you need, wherever you want to go, we’re here to help you find the right people and place for your loved one’s treatment.

Patient Stories: read how one of our past customers journeyed from Turkey to the USA for medical tourism

Please note that EMS Air Ambulance & Medical Repatriation is not responsible for the content of external links.

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