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All About Health Tourism

Health tourism consists on traveling to another city or country to receive medical attention and, at the same time, visit a destination.


For some, it might seem like a matter of trends. For others, what matters is trying to find the best medical attention available in the world… and while doing so, visiting the destination where they’ll get the treatment. And yet, for another group, the high costs of cosmetic treatments, rehabilitation therapies and dental care drive them to try to find countries with an easier access to healthcare services where these procedures are carried out with the highest quality but at accessible costs. But what all these tourists-patients have in common is that they’re all part of a global phenomenon called health tourism, which consists on traveling to another city or country to receive medical attention and at the same time visit a destination.


Nowadays, countries like Canada, Thailand, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates receive millions of patients every year. Apart from them, research made by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Economist Intelligence Unit say that several Latin American countries like Costa Rica, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and Panama have created initiatives that place them among the best health tourism destinations in the world. In fact, Mexico, another leader in this subject, had an income of 2 thousand 847 million dollars in 2013 after giving medical attention to thousands of foreign patients. Fortunately, something that is helping create a widespread favorable perception of the medical skills of the countries that were mentioned above is the equalization of international standards and certifications required for practicing any profession related with healthcare.

The truth is that health tourism is becoming more popular and it demands the collaboration of hospitals, clinics, hotels, travel agencies, interpreters, tour guides and transportation services. For it to be successful, there must be a very precise coordination and organization that allows the patient to submit to a procedure or treatment while being able to participate in recreational activities that complement his visit, as well as that of his travel companion.


Although people use both terms indifferently, in a strict sense, medical tourism takes into account surgeries, therapies and rehabilitation treatments, while health tourism also includes cosmetic, health spa and dental treatments. However, neither of them embraces the concept of health pilgrimage, which implies that sick people travel in search of a miraculous cure inspired by faith.


It’s an organization dedicated to certifying hospitals around the world for their participation in health tourism.