Medical travel is becoming the buzzword as individuals, groups, and organizations seek innovative ways to take charge of their health and find affordable, world class healthcare solutions.
The Medical Tourism Index is a critical tool in the medical travel industry that gauges medical travel destinations across critical indicators to determine their effectiveness in providing care for international patients. This index, developed by the International Healthcare Research Center in collaboration with the Medical Tourism Association, evaluates medical tourism programs based on three crucial “pull factors,” including destination environment, medical tourism industry, and the quality of facilities and services. Each of these comprise sub-components that analyze crucial points of a destination’s economy, healthcare systems, and culture.
This dimension offers a broad assessment on the environmental factors within country or region that could potentiate or inhibit medical travel, assessing key factors, such as the economy, security, global reputation and image, as well as prevailing cultural norms.
Destinations that rank high in this dimension and, therefore, show robust economic indices, offer safe patient care journey across all touchpoints of care, and demonstrate cultural competence to provide care to patients across a range of cultural contexts.
Medical Tourism Industry
This category offers a direct litmus test for the capacity of a destination’s healthcare apparatus for international patients. The Medical Tourism Industry measures direct factors, such as treatment costs and destination attractiveness as a medical travel provider, to aid informed decisions to health payers and consumers.
Destinations that rank high in this dimension have a solid medical travel infrastructure that offers top-rate services across all the touchpoints of care, from departure to discharge.
Quality of Facilities and Services
This dimension takes a deeper dive into the capacity and standards of care a medical travel destination offers. The quality of facilities and services ranks hospitals and medical tourism providers on how well they offer healthcare solutions, leveraging medical advances and state-of-the-art medical technologies.
It also evaluates the presence and quality of third-party accreditations, as well as the quality of training of medical and non-medical staff in medical tourism programs, and their commitment to safety and a wholesome patient experience along the care continuum.
The Medical Tourism Index is used by industry stakeholders, business leaders, employers, insurers, and healthcare organizations to assess a country’s medical travel capacity and, and also by health consumers and payers to make medical travel decisions.
MTI’s Top Destinations in Europe
The Medical Tourism Index 2020-2021 report carefully assessed 46 destinations that provided varying levels of medical travel opportunities for international patients. Across Europe, nine destinations were assessed against these critical metrics to reveal the top European destinations to seek medical care.
Based on these indices, MTI 2020-2021 overall ranking for European medical tourism destinations (with their overall scores across the 46 destinations) are:
- Spain – 72.93
- United Kingdom – 71.92
- France – 69.61
- Germany 69.29
- Italy – 66.75
- Malta – 64.75
- Poland – 64.1
- Turkey – 63.91
Spain is one of the choicest destinations to travel for medical tourism, with the industry growing at a rate of 20 percent annually. Top in the European MTI ranking, Spain takes the overall fourth position, behind Canada, Singapore, and Japan, as the country continues to expand its healthcare systems to offer complex healthcare solutions.
Home to more than 20 internationally accredited hospitals, Spain prides in providing cost-effective medical procedures that offer patients 30% to 70% in cost savings compared to U.S. prices.
This destination is known for its expertise in orthopedic surgery, dentistry, cosmetic surgery, fertility treatments, and bariatric surgery. A huge proportion of Spanish doctors and surgeons are internationally trained and registered, with excellent track records and experience.
Spain also offers international patients the opportunity of a relaxing post-treatment experience, with several exciting tourist places, including the world’s oldest restaurant, Sobrino de Botin, and the Alcazar and Cathedral of Seville.
With some of the best hospitals and centers of excellence in the world, the United Kingdom ranks as one of the top destinations for medical travel. Ranking second on MTI’s European ranking and fifth overall, the United Kingdom takes its highest point in the Destination Environment category, ranking 3rd out of 46 destinations, but falls short in the Medical Tourism Industry and Quality of Facilities and Services categories, ranking 22nd and 11th respectively.
The U.K is not only home to some of the best trained medical professionals but home to some of the most beautiful places in the world, with iconic places such as Big Ben, the Eye of London, Edinburgh Castle, and other beautiful landmarks and cities around the country.
Some notable hospitals in the U.K include the Cambridge Complex Orthopedic Trauma Center, Bupa Cromwell Hospital, the London Orthopedic Clinic, and the Royal Cancer Hospital.
The largest state in the European Union by area and third largest in the continent behind Russia and Ukraine, France ranks third in the MTI’s top destination for medical tourism in Europe.
With a global ranking at the 11th position, France is rated 11th by the Medical Tourism Index in both the Destination Environment and Medical Tourism Industry categories and 12th in the Quality of Facilities and Services category.
France receives thousands of medical tourists, mostly from the EU, mostly for cosmetic, bariatric, and oncology procedures. An important comparative advantage to seeking healthcare in France is the enormous cost savings compared to U.S. prices for complex procedures. Health buyers could save up to 70% for orthopedic procedures in France compared to U.S. hospitals.
France also prides itself with being home to some of the most renowned specialist centers, including the Hernia Institute, Paris, and Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Toulouse.
Ranking fourth in Europe, Germany is 12th in the Global Medical Tourism Index ranking, scoring high (7 out of 46) for the Quality of Facilities & Services, and 8th for its Destination Environment. It ranks 36th in the Medical Tourism Industry, with Spain, the U.K, and France having superior medical tourism packages for international patients.
Often referred to as the Heart of Europe, Germany is the ideal gateway to several attracting places in Europe, being a link between Western Europe and the continental east and bordered by Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Poland, and the Netherlands.
Germany attracts tourists for numerous wellness offerings and packages, as well as complex weight-loss procedures, fertility treatments, and dental surgeries. It is home to some of the world’s most renowned hospitals, including the Clinic of the University of Munich and Charite University Hospital, Berlin.
One of the world’s most culturally and economically advanced countries, Italy ranks 5th European destination for medical tourism for excellence in complex procedures across several specialties, including cardiology, oncology, dental surgery, and bariatric surgery.
Italy ranks 18th in the Global MTI ranking of destinations, taking 23rd position in the Destination Environment category, 17th in the Medical Tourism Industry category, and 18th in the Quality of Facilities and Services category.
Italy promises an exciting patient care journey, with access to some of the best hospitals in the region, including the Policlinico Universitario A. Gemelli in Roma and the Grande Ospedale Metropolitano in Milan, and some of the world’s most visited tourist attractions, such as the Priori Palace and the Basilica of San Francesco.
Ranked by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank as a high-income destination and an advanced economy, Malta is growing rapidly in medical tourism, attracting hundreds of international patients yearly.
Malta is ranked 27th in the Global MTI ratings, ranking 26th in both the Destination Environment and Medical Tourism Industry categories, and 30th in the Quality of Facilities and Services dimension. The country is home to some of the best cosmetic surgeons as well as dental surgeons, and also has high ratings for cataract surgeries and orthopedic procedures.
In addition to getting first-rate care in Malta, international patients also have the opportunity to relish the sights and sounds of attraction sites like the Grandmaster’s Palace, Hastings Gardens, and the City Gate.
With renowned hospitals, including the American Heart of Poland and Carolina Medical Center, Poland is where to get some of the most cost-effective and complex dental, orthopedic, and cardiac procedures done.
Ranking 29th in the Global MTI ranking, Poland ranks 17th in the Destination Environment category, 40th in the Medical Tourism Industry dimension, and 27th in the Quality of Facilities and Services dimension. Nonetheless, Poland thrives as a destination with an effective healthcare system, with excellence in several surgical specialties at a fraction of U.S. costs.
Commonly described as a Eurasian country as it straddles both Asia and Europe, Turkey is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world. It also ranks high among medical tourists for choice centers for cosmetic procedures, dental care, and fertility treatments.
Turkey takes the 30th position in the overall MTI ranking, ranking 23rd for the Quality of Facilities and Services dimension, 31st for its Medical Tourism Industry, and 35th in the Destination Environment dimension.
Turkey is home to some renowned hospitals, including Medistanbul Hospital in Istanbul and Kolan International Hospital.
The world’s largest nation, Russia has been plagued by a war with Ukraine in the last one year, cutting down its attractiveness as a medical tourism destination. Nonetheless, before the crisis began, Russia had pride itself as offering treatments that were much cheaper compared to the U.S. and the rest of Europe.
For many years, many medical tourists had visited the country for cutting-edge eye surgeries, such as LASIK procedure and diagnostic procedures, such as Ocular Coherence Tomography, which could be found at some of the cheapest rates in the region.
Russia takes the 41st overall position in the Global MTI ranking, scoring 41 in the Destination Environment and Medical Tourism Industry categories, and 37 in the Quality of Facilities and Services category.
Global Healthcare Accreditation
The Global Healthcare Accreditation (GHA), one of the major accreditors of healthcare organizations, is an authority in the medical travel industry, integrating standards into medical travel and helping organizations and destinations achieve and maintain standards that align with global best practices and that attract more international patients and health payers.
Working closely with the Medical Tourism Association, GHA works with global leaders and major players in medical travel, providing training services, consultations, and offering marketing education to medical travel programs as well as medical tourism facilitators to improve their offerings and elevate patient experience across all touchpoints of medical travel.
As a result, GHA offers destinations looking to build a brand in medical travel to access all the resources needed to operationalize medical travel systems and attract clients as well as strategic partnerships from around the world.
To learn more about Global Healthcare Accreditation, click here.