The Rise of Medical Tourism

by Martha Lagace ,  HBS Working Knowledge | 2007-12-17

What used to be rare is now commonplace: traveling abroad to receive medical treatment, and to a developing country at that.

So-called medical tourism is on the rise for everything from cardiac care to plastic surgery to hip and knee replacements. As a recent Harvard Business School case study describes, the globalization of health care also provides a fascinating angle on globalization generally and is of great interest to corporate strategists.

"Apollo Hospitals—First-World Health Care at Emerging-Market Prices" explores how Dr. Prathap C. Reddy, a cardiologist, opened India's first for-profit hospital in the southern city of Chennai in 1983. Today the Apollo Hospitals Group manages more than 30 hospitals and treats patients from many different countries, according to the case. Tarun Khanna, a Harvard Business School professor specializing in global strategy, coauthored the case with professor Felix Oberholzer-Gee and Carin-Isabel Knoop, executive director of the HBS Global Research Group.

The medical services industry hasn't been global historically but is becoming so now, says Khanna. There are several reasons that globalization can manifest itself in this industry:

 



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