The development of communication and logistic services together with globalization has changed how healthcare is seen. More than 6 million people travel from one country to another for medical treatment. If you take into account those who travel across a country for very long distances, the number is more than 10 million in a year.
It is a common practice in today’s world for people to travel from the developed countries to emerging ones in search of medical treatment that is quality and economical. This practice, medical tourism, is a major domain for development in the healthcare sector of the UAE. It is also an important contributor to the country’s revenue.
Medical tourism comes with benefits such as:-
- The need for international competitiveness that results in higher quality service provision in healthcare institutions
- Improvement of the healthcare perception as a whole and customer experience
- Strengthening a region for investment
- Attraction of skilled professionals
- Increased revenue
The improved healthcare infrastructure of the country against a background profile as a tourist hub will lead to increasing medical tourism within the region. More specifically, Dubai is fast becoming popular as a patient destination. They are able to add a bonus of leisure to affordable, high-quality healthcare services.
The first half of 2015 saw Dubai attract over 250 000 medical tourists and generating more than Dh 1 billion in revenue. If the trend keeps up, the number of medical tourists will be seen to grow to a contribution of Dh 2.6 billion to the country’s revenue by 2020 according to the head of the Medical Tourism Office, Linda Abdullah Ali.
The government has been proactively involved in the development of the industry. There was a recent introduction of a three-month tourist visa which serves as a great incentive for foreign patients to find treatment in Dubai. The government has also introduced a visa for short stay and made it available for specialist doctors so the facilities can now bring in experts for consultation.
The DHCC has allowed many medical professionals in the country but Dubai is not the only Emirate country that attracts these tourists. The Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi has also seen a good contribution. The Ministry of Health in the UAE has put in place safety regulations that have increased the measures being taken in the medical facilities to provide the highest care standards.
These strategies working together will soon see the UAE become a top destination for medical tourism. They only have to win over the high percentage of nationals who look for medical care overseas.
When it comes to healthcare, the world is at a deciding moment. Healthcare systems are being transformed as more innovations are implemented. These transformations will require of governments to be careful not to impede their own success. For instance, very rigid laws and regulations can be a barrier to the uptake of innovation and too few laws can be risky.
All factors considered though, the future of Dubai is secure.