Medical and health tourism - overview
According to the popular definition, health tourism is a certain type of specialized tourism that aims to satisfy the users’ needs of rest, physical rehabilitation and maintenance of general mental and physical condition outside hospital setting. Closely associated with spa treatment and rehabilitation, therapeutic tourism has many aspects and applications. The combination of medical and tourist services enjoys great popularity worldwide. Exotic destinations, unexplored areas and opportunities become more attractive to people.
What exactly is health tourism
Health tourism is a wider term for travels focused on the use of various healthcare services such as medical and surgical treatments, that covers a wide field of health-oriented tourism activities - from preventive and health-conductive treatments to rehabilitational and curative forms. Wellness tourism is also a related field regarding medical tourism.
Medical tourism refers to patients traveling to another country to obtain medical treatment or specialized help of some kind. This sometimes referred to people who traveled from less-developed countries to better medical centers in highly developed countries to receive treatment that is unavailable at their home countries. In most recent decades this term may also refer to patients from rich and developed countries who travel to Eastern European or “third-world” countries to obtain lower priced medical treatments and save money.
Sometimes the motivation may be reaching for medical services that are unavailable and sometimes even illegal in the patients’ home country.
Medical tourism most often is for cosmetic or other types of as well as similar treatments. Patients often travel for dental tourism or fertility procedures, etc. Patients with rare genetic disorders may travel to countries where the treatment they need is better understood. Almost all types of health care and procedures are available, incl. psychiatry, alternative medicine, preventive care, convalescent care and many more.
However there are certain risks to be considered. Patients, referred to as “medical tourists” may be subject to a number of serious health and post-op risks like DVT (deep vein thrombosis) from air travel and/or poor post-operative care practice.
Some of the most important advantages for the patients and general users of treatment abroad are:
• health care of quality that is higher than the medical procedures quality at the home country
• access to modern medical equipment
• high professionalism
• case management
• second opinion
• immediate service
• complex and life-saving operations
• easier access to treatment (eg. lower prices)
• geographical and climatic advantages, favoring the treatment or rehabilitation in various diseases
Medical & health tourism in Bulgaria
Bulgaria is a popular destination for health tourism and wellness. The country has a rich traditional background. Many spa resorts across the country offer a variety of specialized professional service.
'Bulgaria is among the countries combining low prices for medical services with experienced medical personnel and has the potential to become a destination of choice for the so-called health tourists'.
Reuters, from the report of the Economist Intelligence Unit, September 2011
'An increasing number of Europeans (and persons from non-member countries) are travelling across borders to receive health treatment, to avoid waiting lists or to seek specialist treatment that may only be available abroad.'
Eurostat yearbook 2010
'Bulgaria could become a medical tourism heaven!'
'The cost-to-quality ratio of health services in Bulgaria is very attractive to people from Western Europe.
The most sought-after services include: the treatment of infertility, plastic surgery, dental care, hip replacement surgery and laser eye surgery. They are all reasonably priced and carried out by highly qualified specialists in Bulgaria!'
'Bulgaria should use its natural endowments and intellectual resources, as well as the hundreds of mineral water springs, healing climate, curative mud deposits, organic farming and services promoting a healthy lifestyle, cultural, wine, seaside and mountain tourism.'
Antonia Wirth, President, International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI)
• Excellent geographical, climatic and environmental conditions
• The unique combination of seaside, mountains and mineral water makes Bulgaria a suitable place for health promotion throughout the year
• Long-standing tradition in balneology and spa tourism
• Refurbished world-class medical and rehabilitation centres and hotels
• Highly qualified and experienced healthcare staff
• Relatively low cost of medical services
• Well-developed network of private cosmetic surgery and dental clinics
• Bulgaria ranks second in Europe after Iceland in the number the mineral springs, providing all types of mineral water existing in nature
• Bulgaria is an attractive destination for treatment, prophylaxis and recreation
• Moderate climate with four seasons and significant Mediterranean influence