Medical tourism defined, and all related terms

Medical tourism/travel, health tourism/travel, overseas treatment, etc. With all these terms floating around, it’s hard to be sure how one is different from the other. Are they all, in fact, just the same thing? This article intends to dispel all the mystery and get things straightened out. Except for overseas treatment, that one kinda goes without saying.


What is medical tourism?

Medical tourism is generally people from developed countries seeking overseas treatment in developing countries. While a relatively new concept, it’s also one that is quickly becoming an umbrella term for the industry as a whole. As IMTJ describes it “citizens of industrialized nations bypass services offered in their own communities and travel to less developed countries to receive medical care”. The impetus behind this industry could be the cost of treatment being excessive or waiting times being prohibitive to receiving timely care in the patient’s own country.

The idea of medical tourism brings with it not only the preconception of treatment (that mostly being elective or non-emergency procedures) but also entertainment. While, as stated, cheaper treatment could be the deciding factor, luxury accommodation, transportation, and other conveniences are also potentially available to enhance the experience, believed to be the overall focus in medical tourism. Not to mention, recovering in a foreign and possibly more relaxing climate.

Wait, what is medical travel then?

Medical travel is people from developing countries seeking overseas treatment in developed countries. So, it could be thought of as the opposite idea of medical tourism. Also known as international medical travel, the idea of medical travel holds a more official or authoritative tone, where expert medical treatment at state-of-the-art facilities is at its core. That said, it doesn’t exclude the idea of there being some form of entertainment. Whether before, during or after the treatment, this extends to the patient’s family should they be with them as well. This can be seen as a more premium option, putting quality above all, converse to the nature of medical tourism which services those with a more restrictive budget. Also, the concept precedes medical tourism and could be interpreted as a more safer option.

Now, what is health tourism?

This is actually an older and more established term, historically more keyed towards health and wellness, such as spa treatment and the more cosmetic side of healthcare linked to stress relief. Some consider medical tourism as an offshoot of health tourism substituting resorts and retreats providing wellness for medical centers treating illness. However, the type of treatment such as human embryonic stem cell tourism (hESCtourism) doesn’t determine the target of the treatment, which can vary depending on the service. In health tourism, the use of hESC treatment would be to take care of crow’s feet or a receding hairline as opposed to medical tourism, where treating heart conditions or disorders of the immune system would be the aim. Traveling to another country for treatment may also be, as relates to hESC, determined due to the treatment being unavailable due to differing ethical stances in parts of the world.

So what is Xclusive Finland medical travel?

What we provide is premium, expert, individually tailored, patient-centered healthcare regardless of where the patient resides. Our broad professional network of medical practitioners and hospitals in Finland is unmatched and we strive to always provide the most suitable treatment in the most state-of-the-art facilities that can be provided. The services we offer include the most luxurious accommodation and high-quality transportation available. Also, being served in your mother tongue is an expectation and not an afterthought. We optimize every opportunity to enhance your experience with us, enabling a stress-free journey for you and your family.

Are there more?

  • Health travel I’ve seen but I believe this to be medical tourism under another guise.
  • Dental tourism is also available, should you be unable to receive timely or affordable treatment domestically.
  • Reproductive tourism, traveling to receive eggs from paid donors.
  • The aforementioned niche hESCtourism. Only available outside of the western world.
  • Transplant, organ transplant or transplantation tourism, surrounded in controversy.
  • Spa tourism, related to health and wellness tourism.
  • Cosmetic tourism, related to elective treatments.

I believe these are all the associated terms for the industry that are out there. That said, feel free to let me know if I’m wrong in the comments and I’ll be more than happy to explore this further and update this blog post accordingly!

To find out more about how we may help you, you can browse the service packages we provide. These include a family travel service to provide your spouse and/or children with relaxation and entertainment during your treatment and recovery.

Be sure to check out our other articles on Health Technology.

You may find these articles interesting:
Healthcare in Finland remains world-class in 2018
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Writer of the article:

Ross Uren

Medical Tourism vs. Traditional International Medical Travel: A Tale of Two Models | IMTJ
(PDF) What is Health and Medical Tourism? | Peta S Cook –


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