Flat Medicine? Exploring Trends in the Globalization of Health Care

by Robert K. Crone, MD ,  Academic Medicine: Vol. 83- Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges | 2008-02-01

Trailing nearly every other industry, health care is finally globalizing. Highly trained and experienced expatriate health care professionals are returning to their home countries from training in the West or are staying home to work in newly developed corporate health care delivery systems that can compete quite favorably with less-than-perfect providers in Europe and North America. In turn, these health care systems are attracting patients from around the world who are interested in exploring high-quality, lower-cost health care alternatives. Much of this activity is occurring in the emerging economies of the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, and beyond. Three Harvard Medical International collaborations-in Dubai, Turkey, and India-highlight these trends and demonstrate the potential for new models of global health care, as well as potential ramifications for patients and providers in the established economies of the West, including the United States. Although globalization is not a cure-all solution to achieving universal access to health care, it is not only a significant first step for patients in these emerging economies, but may also present alternative solutions for those patients in wealthier nations who nonetheless lack adequate health care coverage. The increase in health care quality and competitiveness around the globe is important, but these improvements will need to be matched by the development of comprehensive payer solutions, to benefit as many people as possible.

Throughout history, diseases and individual providers have been crossing borders, primarily from developing to developed countries. Now, well-trained and experienced expatriate providers from these developing countries are returning home or staying home to work in newly developed corporate health care delivery systems that can compete quite favorably with less-than-perfect providers in Europe and North America. In turn, these corporate health care systems are attracting patients from around the world who are interested in exploring high-quality, lower-cost health care alternatives. Trailing nearly every other industry, health care is finally globalizing.

 



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