The medical tourism industry is the focus of an event to be held in Dubai next week.The inaugural Healthcare Travel exhibition taking place at the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel in Dubai from Sunday will explore the relevant issues relating to this area of healthcare.
There has already been wide media coverage about medical tourism and although exact figures relating to the size of the global market for this type of health coverage isn't yet known the potential appears to be huge.
"We're seeing a high level of interest in this event," said Sietske Meerloo, Marketing Manager at IIR Middle East and organiser of Healthcare Travel. "Large numbers of hospitals and clinics around the world are attempting to tailor their health services to cater to medical tourists. Several of the major insurance companies now offer a travel component in their policies, and governments are now looking at the situation closely to develop policies to take account of this growing trend," she added.
Although there is a high level of excitement about medical tourism there are many issues that need to be addressed that will allow the business to grow and prosper. Many of these cover economic and social factors, but there are also ethical and legal questions that require answers.
Meerloo said that a full range of issues will be discussed at the event, and highlighted the calibre of participants as an indication of the depth of debate that is likely to occur.
"We have many of the leading industry professionals in the field of medical tourism attending Healthcare Travel," she said. "There are representatives with first hand experience from areas including insurance, marketing and accreditation over and above the professionals with clinical backgrounds attending the event to discuss the big issues," she added.
With the pace of development of the medical tourism industry creating changes to the way countries run their health services plans are in place to make the Healthcare Travel exhibition an annual event.
"New issues and challenges are arising all the time in medical tourism and many of them are being addressed in our new Healthcare Travel magazine," Meerloo said. "But, the need is there to hold a regular event to keep industry professionals updated as much as possible. That's our aim and I have every confidence we'll achieve this."