Returning to the main theme of this blog, I came across the following insightful article by Ruben Toral last week that posed the question, “Is Medical Tourism Dying a Slow Death?”
As someone who has been interested in opportunities in Medical Travel for some time, and disappointed in not being able to elicit interest in my idea for Medical Travel, I was interested in seeing what Ruben had to say, and to see if it measured up to my views of the industry, as I know it.
According to Ruben, the industry exhibits the traits of a typical product/business cycle, whereby the first and fast movers establish leadership by developing and commercializing the concept, then late adopters pile in to get in on the action.
He goes on to decry the same speakers at every medical tourism event around the world talking about the same things, which is enough to hit the snooze button and go back to sleep.
He also laments the lack of innovation, and says that key players are just trying to manage the slow growth rather than investing in the next wave.
VC investors, Ruben says, talk of getting burned on medical tourism investments that simply cannot scale like other businesses, because, as they quickly learn, healthcare is a different animal than retail and you burn through a lot of cash fast trying to buy eyeballs and audience.
And investment analysts ask the same question after pouring through hospital financial reports and see how hospitals are managing and protecting profit margins: “Where’s the growth?” And even large meeting and events companies are not “flogging medical tourism” because attendance and interest is way down.
So, is this the beginning of the end or the inflection point for medical tourism?, Ruben asks. For his part, he does not know, but if it is not the beginning of the end, or an inflection point, it is most certainly a fork in the road.
Where it goes from here is as good a guess as mine and Ruben’s, but it is up to those who are serious and dedicated to growing the industry to regroup and start again to build interest and enthusiasm for medical travel, and to address some of the glaring issues facing the industry.
But that won’t happen until there are changes within and without the industry…in technology and in strategy.