7 trends to watch in medical tourism in 2016


7 trends to watch in medical tourism in 2016 – a baby boom, hot new destinations, and ethics – from industry leader Medical Travel Quality Alliance.

March 2, 2016 – Bangkok and Scottsdale – A global baby boom in 2016 is one of seven trends and issues that will affect the medical tourism industry this year, according to industry leader Medical Travel Quality Alliance (MTQUA,

“This will be a very interesting year. Prepare for a baby boom in medical tourism and plenty of debate around the kind of treatment medical travelers get in hospitals, and by doctors and agents,” says Medical Travel Quality Alliance president Julie Munro.

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Americans will be looking for baby surrogates in countries from Cambodia to Ukraine; Chinese will be looking to America for surrogates and as a place to give birth; and everyone from Australians to Zambians will be asking for gender selection along with advanced and leading edge fertility treatments.

Some agencies and clinics, especially in Bangkok and California, are already preparing to handle up to 300 patients a month.

Chinese baby boom“Established agents are going bankrupt, there’s talk of corruption and questionable practices. I expect to see hot debates over ethics and medical traveler rights, especially considering the recent treatment of medical tourists by the Dominican Republic,” says Munro.

MTQUA, a key industry player, providing medical travel certification and standards, medical travel advisories, best practices, and medical traveler bill of rights, identifies these seven key trends and issues for the medical tourism industry for 2016.

1. A medical tourism baby boom.

Traditional fertility treatments, commercial surrogacy contracts, and “birthright” tourism will all see greater numbers mainly because Chinese couples now can have more than one child per family. Many Chinese, Brits, Americans and Australians will also be exploring gene editing, three-person embryo procedures, and other emerging ethically-borderline processes.

2. Demand for guarantees by patients and doctors.

Bankruptcies, rumors of FBI investigations, charges of patient trafficking make medical travelers more careful in choosing facilitators and providers.

3. Growing questions about the quality of results.

The first medical travel advisory on the medical tourism industry, from MTQUA, made many people ask if enough is being done to protect medical tourists from higher risk to their safety and lower quality of care and outcomes.

4. Medical travel specialization in degree and diploma programs at universities and colleges.

Gulf Medical University in Ajman, UAE is among the first to offer formal courses in aspects of medical tourism.

5. The next “hot” medical travel destinations.

As Cuba opens up to American tourists, medical tourism promoters and bloggers are already claiming it is a great treatment choice for medical travelers. Not so fast, say the Cayman Islands and Iran.

6. Slowing of outbound government-sponsored medical travel.

Governments sponsoring outbound medical tourists, such as Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan and Nigeria are cutting back medical travel budgets, searching for cheaper alternative destinations and demanding better clinical outcomes.

7. Certification and accreditation confusion.

Certification and accreditation programs generally suggest that industry leaders have arrived at a consensus for standards and best practices. In medical tourism, this is not the case so far, though progress continues to be made.

The detailed trends report may be found here.

Medical Travel Quality Alliance (MTQUA,, founded in 2009, is an independent international organization that develops and promotes the highest standards of excellence in delivering treatment and care to medical travelers and health tourists. It certifies hospitals, clinics and medical travel service providers worldwide for safety and quality in support of treatment, care and services for medical tourists, and issues an annual list of the Top 10 World’s Best Hospitals for Medical TouristsTM.

Caroline Bodanis
Telephone (USA) +1 602-635-4664, (Thailand) +66 85 902 4500

Our services

Medical Tourism Certification

Certification SealMTQUA offers the only cross-services medical tourism certification for hospitals, clinics, agencies, specialty treatment centers, resorts, etc., including training and workshops to support and enhance certification standards and protocols.

MTQUA Medical travel and health tourism curriculum is featured as core learning modules at selected universities and colleges around the world.

MTQUA provides the medical tourism industry’s only enterprise-wide Medical Tourism Certification program for hospitals, clinics, specialty treatment centers, agencies, recovery resorts and all other providers of related health and support services.

Using evidence-based standards, MTQUA evaluates a provider’s processes, practices and protocols in areas of communication, operations, multicultural customs, marketing, internet use, privacy, customer service, leadership and other aspects of care management that affect the good results a patient or medical traveler gets from seeking treatment away from home.

Health care and service providers that meet or exceed our standards receive medical tourism certification.

Learn more about medical travel certification.

World’s Best Hospitals for Medical Tourists™

world best hospitalsMTQUA annually publishes a list of best hospitals for medical travelers, based on quality medical treatment, patient care and medical travel best practice.

Read about the Top 10 World’s Best Hospitals for Medical Tourists™

Medical Travel Advisory

Medical Travel AdvisoryMTQUA monitors quality and safety conditions for medical tourists and issues warnings and watch lists as needed to alert medical tourists to potentially higher risks in certain situations.

Learn more about current medical travel warnings and watch lists.

Best Practices in Medical Tourism

best-practice-logoBest practices demonstrate how to produce results better than those achieved by other means, and are used as a benchmark against which to judge one’s own practices and to improve those practices.

Download Best Practices in Medical Tourism publications.

Inside Medical Travel Newsletter

Inside Medical Travel blogRead the MTQUA blog and subscribe to the MTQUA newsletter for useful tools, information and insights to help you grow your medical tourism business.

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Medical Traveler Patient Registry

PATIENT REGISTRY FINAL 5Medical tourists may use the MTQUA network to monitor their medical travel plans and patient journey from start to finish.

Learn more about the Medical Traveler Patient Registry.

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These Businesses Have Chosen Medical Tourism Certification

What is your reason for getting certified in medical tourism?

Hospital in Korea

We, a JCIA hospital, have high motivation to do everything possible to make us one of the highest level international medical center in the world. A medical tourism certification will help us for this.

Hospital in United Arab Emirates

Our hospital is a leader in the private healthcare industry in the Middle East. With our vision of being the center of excellence for state of the art healthcare services, we build our practice on evidence based practices, human values and patient care. Medical tourism certification supports this.

Medical Travel Company in Australia

Our medical tourism company has been established for over 3 years, and has grown to become the region’s largest medical tourism facilitator. We are now looking to grow our brand internationally and believe certification by MTQUA will be beneficial.

Specialty Treatment Center in Thailand

Knowledge and doing things right from the start is essential.

Hospital in Turkey

We would like to certify the quality of service provided by us so that international patient can use our services without any fear of travelling into a different country.

Dental Clinic in Costa Rica

Certification will help me to improve the quality of service delivery offered to my patients in accordance with International Standards.

Medical Tourism Company in USA

I think we need to have certification for all medical tourism agencies. The industry is growing rapidly and the ‘cowboys’ need to be weeded out. We need everyone taking care of medical tourists to get certification like this.

Medical Clinic in Portugal

We are in a tourist community and have many traveling patients. This certification will keep us on the forefront of patient safety and high standards internationally.

Medical Tourism Company in UK

We see this being necessary and I’m very ready and willing to step up as a medical travel company that is certified in international standards for high quality.

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Medical Tourism Certification

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Getting outstanding medical treatment abroad of the best quality and highest standards

What creates outstanding medical treatment abroad?

When MTQUA representatives review hospitals for our annual list of World’s Best Hospitals for Medical Tourists, these are some of the criteria considered. These are not listed in their order of importance.

1. Medical quality and outcomes

2. International patient communication and care management

3. International patient marketing

4. Value for service

5. Patient safety and security

6. Transparency and disclosure

7. Attention to other unique needs of the medical traveler

8. Website

9. Management

10. Partnerships, alliances and external support

See the Top 10 list of World’s Best Hospitals for Medical Tourists

How to get the best care and best value in medical tourism

Medical tourists have a world of choice in health care and are taking advantage of this. But the information they have to base their choices on is often bewildering, confusing, and wrong.

Patients looking for medical care and treatment abroad need accurate up-to-date and reliable information. Whether a website or a medical tourism company can provide the sort of information that will answer concerns about best quality or high standards of patient safety and care management is often a concern.

Some patients now consider accreditation status and word of mouth recommendations before they make their choice of hospital, and that’s a definite improvement over relying only on the internet for information or choosing the lowest cost.

Issues such as patient safety and security, international patient operations and protocols, marketing integrity, transparency and facilitator review should be weighed heavily in any selection of hospital by the medical traveler.

To get the best value and care from going abroad for treatment to the best hospitals or other hospitals in the best medical destinations, MTQUA recommends that medical tourists consider using a qualified medical travel company or care manager who has professional trained facilitators or agents on site to take care of any circumstances that may arise, medical or otherwise.