certification standards

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, https://mtqua.org)

“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.

Download PDF release.

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, https://mtqua.org/), 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
Email caroline@mtqua.org
Telephone (USA) +1 602-635-4664, (Thailand) +66 85 902 4500

Medical Tourism Certification from MTQUA


Medical tourism certification is independent third party recognition that the non-medical services of your hospital, clinic or business meet the international standard of excellence for care and services to international patients and medical tourists.

  • Trusted

    By certifying the non-clinical operations, processes and protocols of your hospital, clinic or service, you are declaring to patients around the world that they can trust you to provide the high quality services and care management that promote good results.

  • Preferred

    Insurance providers, assistance companies and referring physicians seek out medical tourism certified businesses to be their “preferred” providers, knowing they can expect their patients and clients to receive a specific high level of care management and services.

  • Patient-centered

    MTQUA certification is not a certification of medical quality. It is patient-centered and guided by principles aimed at ensuring a good outcome for each medical tourist. It complements an organization’s medical practices and enhances its ability to provide consistent, world class medical treatment and care management.

  • International Standard

    Consumers and referrers anywhere in the world can easily identify and compare service providers worldwide that have been approved for their quality of treatment and care services against a rigorous international standard.

  • Best Practice

    Certification helps identify the strengths and improve the weaknesses in your operations. Throughout the evaluation process, you receive practical suggestions and useful tools that will enrich the overall patient experience and benchmark your business processes against other medical tourism service providers around the world.

Apply for certification.

Who is eligible to be certified?

All entities that offer direct-to-consumer medical tourism-related services or support are eligible for certification.

  • hospitals
  • clinics
  • treatment centers
  • medical tourism companies and facilitators
  • medical tourism brokers and agents
  • care management companies
  • physician practices
  • alternative health care providers
  • hotels and resorts with recovery services
  • travel agencies
  • emergency services
  • air and ground transportation companies

Apply for certification.

What are the benefits of certification by MTQUA?
How to get certified.
Download the Guide to Medical Tourism Certification.