Focus on Canada
U. S. medical tourism companies are the subject of numerous studies [ 44 – 46 ]. Medical tourism companies based in Canada have attracted some attention from researchers but there is limited analysis of company websites and little exploration of the many medical travel companies that do not neatly fit into the category of medical tourism businesses [ 47 – 49 ]. This article examines the medical travel industry of a country with a publicly funded system of universal access to health care. There are presumably some important differences between why Canadians go abroad for health care and why residents of the United States and other countries travel for medical interventions. Scholarly research examining medical travel will benefit from analysis of many different social, economic, and cultural contexts.
Investigating “medical tourism companies” as a subset of medical travel businesses
To date, researchers appear particularly interested in studying companies that promote medical travel to India, Thailand, and other distant, “global” health care destinations. This article makes distinctions among different types of companies in Canada’s medical travel industry. Some companies market health services available in countries located far from Canada. Other companies promote regional, cross-border travel to the U. S. as well as intranational travel within Canada. Yet other businesses promote specific interventions such as bariatric surgery and “Liberation therapy”. Some companies market insurance products and help Canadian clients obtain health care in the U. S and private facilities in Canada. Studies that focus strictly on medical tourism companies sending clients to distant nations risk missing or neglecting many of the businesses identified in this study. Businesses promoting medical travel are not reducible to medical tourism companies marketing health services and holidays available in faraway international locations. There is something to be gained from identifying differences within the medical travel industry and expanding the analytic lens to include both medical tourism companies and related businesses that promote medical travel but do not necessarily fit the standard model of medical tourism companies. Businesses promoting regional, cross-border care, weight loss, “Liberation therapy” and private insurance coupled with assistance arranging health care in the United States all market access to various types of medical travel.
Canada’s medical travel industry as a bounded field
Several studies analyze particular facets of medical tourism company websites but do not use search strategies designed to identify companies based in particular countries. This study attempts to identify and analyze websites of all identified operational medical travel companies situated in Canada. Such an approach makes it possible to provide an overview of Canada’s medical travel industry.
Disclosure of primary sources
This article identifies Canadian companies that market transnational health care, lists their websites, and electronically archives all company websites. Additional file 3 provides company names, notes their websites, and contains links to electronically archived copies of company websites. These steps mean that readers have access to all primary data used as the basis for this study. Access to primary data means that it is possible for readers to evaluate claims made in this paper, conduct novel analyses driven by research questions not addressed in this study, compare Canada’s medical travel industry with medical travel companies in other countries, and track over time changes in Canada’s medical travel industry. Identifying specific businesses and providing content analysis of company websites should facilitate further research into Canada’s medical travel industry and enable comparative, cross-national studies.