I have posted a number of previous notes about medical tourism. Because I have been interested in this topic for some time, I have had the opportunity to watch the business model evolve in various countries. A recent article discusses how, at least in Thailand, the industry is now incorporating airport facilities into the business model (see: Samitivej Srinakarin to open first private medical centre at airport). Below is an excerpt from the article (boldface emphasis mine):
Despite the host of problems at Suvarnabhumi Airport, private hospitals are moving to maximise its potential to bring in new business. Bumrungrad International last week opened a new airport service centre at Suvarnabhumi, while Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital is scheduled to open the first medical centre to be run by a private hospital at the airport next week....[T]he Bumrungrad Airport Service Centre provides mainly information and ground support services for its inbound patients in a stylish, business-class lounge setting. The centre complements a long list of services the hospital currently offers international patients, which include on-site serviced apartments, visa extensions and interpreters. Bumrungrad ...treated an estimated 450,000 foreign patients in 2006, a rise from 400,000 a year earlier. If domestic patients are included, the hospital treated more than one million patients in 2006....Mack Banner, Bumrungrad's CEO, said the hospital's aim was to provide inbound medical tourists with a complete door-to-door service....Under a plan to expand its foreign patient base, Bumrungrad plans to set up about four representative offices in foreign countries this year, three due to be established by the first quarter of this year in the Republic of Seychelles, Mongolia, and Ethiopia.The company currently operates 14 overseas offices.
I have the following comments about this article:
- Two Thai healthcare organizations are setting up an airport service center and a hospital at the new Bangkok international airport, Suvarnabhumi. This make sense from a supply chain perspective. Patients can fly into the airport, undergo various surgical procedures, and then fly home. Alternatively, incoming patients can be expedited through customs and passport control at the airport and then transported to a hospital in the city.
- I have posted notes about Bumrungrad Hospital in Thailand in the past. Note that the company will soon have 17 overseas offices to solicit and facilitate new business. Also note the locations of the three newest offices: Republic of Seychelles, Mongolia, and Ethiopia. It appears to me that Bumrungrad is establishing itself as a tertiary care provider for developing countries around the world. Although many have been assuming that the developing medical tourism industry was being designed primary to serve patients in Western countries, it may be the case that the majority of patients will originate in less developed countries where there is little competition for the tertiary healthcare services provides by Bumrungrad.
- As I have mentioned before, look for the medical tourism industry in Thailand and India to begin to solicit patients with relatively acute problems who may be transported to Thailand on charter flights with medical attendants. Such patients can be stabilized at the airport medical facilities before being taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital for definitive surgical procedures.