State of Medical Tourism in the World
A June 15, 2016 article by the Center For Disease Control (CDC) claims that 750,000 US Residents travel abroad for medical care. The main reason is lower costs. The CDC goes on to report that the most common procedures that people undergo on medical tourism trips include cosmetic surgery, dentistry, and heart surgery.
The Medical Tourism Association is another organization that maintains statistics regarding people seeking medical treatment abroad and here are some findings from their own annual reports: The latest 2015 report indicates that patients spent between $3,600 and $15,833 USD per medical travel trip and that 65% of patients participating in medical travel are not covered by insurance. The 2013 report indicates that most of the medical tourists were female, all were between ages 45 and 64, the majority were White/Caucasian, all were American, all were college educated and half had household incomes between $50,000 and $100,000. The 2009 survey indicated that 85% of US patients found they received more personalized medical care than in the US, state-of-the-art technology and that 86% of US patients said they would travel again overseas for medical care.
Medical Tourism in the Dominican Republic
Actually medical tourism in the Dominican Republic has been growing fast recently. Hospitals and clinics in the Dominican Republic welcomed 20,000 international patients and 1,000 for plastic surgery alone in 2014. And this number has been only growing since. The Dominican Republic opened the first robotic surgery facility among the 13 Caribbean island nations in 2014. The Samadi Robotic Institute, housed at HOMS, features a state-of-the-art Da Vinci robot with multiple robotic arms that allow surgeons to perform delicate procedures including the removal of prostates, gallbladders, and wombs, re – pair of heart valves, shrinking stomachs and transplanting organs.
Moreover, the Medical Tourism Association has its own Medical Tourism Index to measure the attractiveness of a medical tourism destination or country based on 4 major criteria: country environment, tourism destinations, medical tourism costs and medical facility and services. It also measures the effectiveness of a country’s promotional strategies as a medical tourism market. According to this index, the Dominican Republic is ranked 15th among more than 30 countries worldwide surpassed by its closest neighbors from the region Costa Rica and Panama.
A separate organization was created to promote the country as a health tourism destination. The Dominican Health Tourism Association (ADTS) also supports the best health tourism practices, international certifications and accreditation to constantly improve the quality and safety of medical care. The association encourages the certification of all providers according to national standards.
Additionally, several big hospitals have specialized international departments responsible for providing services to medical tourists that include the transfer of medical records, translation services, airport pick-up/drop-off and help with accommodations.
The most popular medical services that international patients seek in the Dominican Republic are:
- plastic surgery,
- full health check-ups and exams,
- joint replacement,
- weight loss surgeries or bariatric surgeries,
- dental treatments.
Reasons Why International Patients Come to the Dominican Republic
Main reasons why international patients seek medical and wellness treatments in the Dominican Republic include:
- Proximity and close ties with the United States and Canada.
- Citizens of the United States, Canada and most European countries do not require visas.
- There are numerous air links with all parts of the world, particularly in North and South America and Europe.
- Health centers accredited with first-order specialists.
- Immediate care without waiting lists.
- Good road infrastructure and satellite communications.
- Favorable climate all year round and sun and beach tourism, ideal for rest and recovery.
- Friendliness, warmth and hospitality of the Dominican staff, with respect for privacy.
- Economic stability and security.
Health insurance coverage is another determining factor in the decisions that patients make when they leave their country in search of health care in the Dominican Republic. 65% of patients who travel for health reasons do not have health insurance. Patients in the United States are an example, where millions of people have no medical plans. This triggers the cost of care received in hospitals, which is higher than in other countries. For instance, in the United States, both knee replacement surgery and hip replacement surgery can cost upwards of US $50,000. Whereas knee replacement surgery can be obtained for less than US $12,000 in the Dominican Republic.
Most Popular Dominican Hospitals Among Medical Tourists
Most of international patients that travel to the Dominican Republic head to Santo Domingo where they seek services in one of the three biggest and most popular medical centers. These are The Centers for Diagnosis and Advanced Medicine and Medical Conferences and Telemedicine (CEDIMAT), The Centers for Global Health & International Medicine (CGHIM), Hospital General de la Plaza de la Salud HGPS International. Apart from Santo Domingo, Santiago based Metropolitan Hospital of Santiago (HOMS) is well-know on the international level.
Considering the constantly growing flow of tourists to the North Coast of the Dominican Republic and lack of adequate internationally accredited medical institutions in this area, Dream City is planning the construction of an onsite medical center. It will represent a significant contribution to the quality of the national health system and tourism in this segment, benefiting not only Dominican patients, but also foreigners who will have access to world-class care.