What is medical tourism and how did it start?

What is medical tourism and how did it start?Medical tourism implies patients who are willing to travel to other towns or countries, in search for a professional and affordable medical treatment and care for their health problem. These persons decide to seek help outside their local healthcare system either because they require a high level of expertise that cannot be found near their residence, or because it is too expensive. There is also the less common situation when the respective treatment is not legal in the patient’s residence country, like fertility procedures, and therefore she is put in a position to travel to another country in order to have it done.

But how did it medical tourism started? You would be surprised to find out that this was a common practice even since ancient times, when Greeks and Romans would take long trips by foot or by ship to cult centers in the Mediterranean Sea. There is also evidence that even Mesopotamians used to travel to Syria for eye treatments. The temples raised in the honor of those times gods of medicine can be considered as the world’s first health centers. Sometimes the ill would remain inside the temple for several days hoping that the respective god would appear to them in a dream and guide their steps towards healing.

The first spa towns, like Bath and St. Moritz became popular in the 16 th and 17 th centuries when the elite classes would travel here for treatment, rest and relaxation. Important European capitals, and later on even several cities in the USA, started to be seen as a solution for medical problems by the wealthy families in the developing countries starting with the early years of the 20 th century. This was usually the case for very invasive medical procedures and difficult treatments. Nowadays the situation has changes since many of the developing countries benefit from a well-trained and specialized medical workforce that is able to provide the same services with a high degree of specialization and experience as the ones from developed countries but for a fraction of their cost. In some cases a patient can pay up to 70% less if deciding to go through the respective procedure in other countries like Romania .

There are many medical areas that benefit from medical tourism but the most renowned are plastic surgery and beauty treatments, fertility procedures, very difficult and invasive types of surgery, cancer treatments but also dental implants, oral care and cosmetic dentistry.


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