A variety of factors have reportedly been troubling medical tourists when they travel abroad. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified communication problems and counterfeits as the most dangerous challenges to the growing medical tourism industry :
(i) Unsafe medical practices
According to a study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health, 43 million people each year are affected around the globe due to unsafe medical practices, out of which 23 million healthy people lose their lives. Syringes, e-waste, unclean hands before treating the patients often disrupt the entire chain of procedures.
(ii) Poor quality medicines
Several times, due to exceeding demand of medicines, expired ones or those of low quality are sold off to international patients who due to language barriers find it difficult to communicate.
(iii) Surcharge during travel or stay
It is a common complaint among medical tourists that they are charged more than usual fares during their travel around the city. Even hospitals and hotels where they stay bill them on overhead charges frequently.
(iv) Possibility of contracting diseases due to non-adjustment to a new environment
Often a change in the environment and exposure to mild climate changes brings about untold misery in the form of water and air borne diseases.
(v) Global antibiotic resistance
Medical tourists, once they returned home, sought treatment against antibiotic resistance. They discussed the costs of screening, isolation and testing for antibiotic-resistant organisms after medical tourists sought treatment upon return home.
Language barriers and counterfeits have emerged as one of the biggest challenges in the booming industry. A study conducted by International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Review and Research in September 2015 lists the following specific challenges to India’s medical tourism industry:
– Commercialisation: Due to increasing profits in the industry, commercialisation of the profession is affecting the doctor-patient relationship in long-term treatments.
– Insurance cover: Many insurance companies in developed countries provide cover for only treatments done in their own country.
– Poor power supply in hospitals.
– Industry standards not being followed properly in private hospitals.
– Inequalities in medical services provided by government and private hospitals.
– Increasing costs for local patients.