The Introduction Process of the Original Policy
The Scope of Medical Tourism
Medical tourism spans the commercial sector and global health spheres. Its rise coincides with the rapid expansion of healthcare trade, which is being fueled by increased worldwide mobility of care providers and consumers, developments in information technology and communications, and a growing private healthcare sector. As a result, trade and health policy actors often have competing goals, and trade and health governance processes remain distinct at three levels: international regional, and national (Virani et al., 2020). There are apparent contradictions between the objectives of protecting and improving health and earning income through commerce on a global scale. These diversities point to the essence of a global tourism health and wellness policy that cuts across all nations.
Varying Processes Globally
At the national level, there is clear trade and health policy incoherence in supporting both medical tourism and wellness services for local consumers. While several investigations on medical tourism mention the government’s role in supporting the industry, they fail to distinguish between the roles of various government ministries and their policy objectives (Labonté et al., 2018). According to Pocock and Phua (2011), governments’ healthcare protectionism, characterized by rigorous qualifying rules for access to state-subsidized services by migrants, originates from the need to maximize finite public spending within certain geographical boundaries. From this perspective, the policy formulation has taken several steps from local to international levels.
Policy Development, Sponsorship, and Accreditation
The Ministry of Health
Medical tourism policy formulation begins at the national level with the ministry of health establishing rules for healthcare service delivery to regional clients. Some of the renowned tourism medical destinations are Cuba, India, Canada, Singapore, and Israel. Focusing on India, IMTJ Team (2021) shows that the government’s focus on healthcare value and the collaboration between the ministry of health and various stakeholders for the basis for global medical tourism policy. India has risen to become a top-tier destination for medical value travel (MVT) throughout the years as a result of its strong scores on a variety of parameters that affect overall treatment quality.
The Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Economy
Initial policy formulation began with the ministry of tourism’s analysis of the medical travel patients and the present conditions. From the statistics, the number of global patients reduced from 4.3 million in 2016 to 7 million in 2019, with a market value of USD 5-6 billion expected in 2019 (IMTJ Team, 2021). According to Global Wellness Tourism’s projections, India placed 7th in 2017 (IMTJ Team, 2021). Wellness tourism accounts for 56 million trips and generates a total value of 16.3 billion dollars (IMTJ Team, 2021). With these values in place, the policy development took the second step: financial consideration. Any policy formulation and implementation process require a significant portion of resources. For this reason, the ministry of economy assessed and confirmed the policy’s viability and feasibility.
Accreditation and Sponsorship
Accreditation is a crucial requirement for any policy and institution serving the public. In the case of medical tourism, the Joint Commission International (JCI) has been a major service regulator on medical tourism in many countries globally (Lunt et al., 2016). Over the years, globalization has come to be known as a sure way of customer attraction, motivating many global players to pursue international accreditation. The JCI, the international arm of the Joint Commission, which accredits US hospitals, has received accreditation requests from 35 nations (Lunt et al., 2016). India has already applied for and received JCI certification for seventeen hospitals, while Thailand has applied for and received JCI accreditation for fourteen (Lunt et al., 2016). The Quality Council of India and the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare (NABH) Providers developed a comprehensive healthcare standard for hospitals and healthcare providers enhancing MVT. With sponsorships from the World Health Organization and the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund, India has become one of the best medical tourism destinations.
The Need for a Global Medical Tourism Policy
Sustained Growth in the Healthcare Sector and Registry
The rise in healthcare costs and the increasing number of medical tourists led to a comprehensive evaluation of the need for medical tourism policies all around the world. Globalization has contributed to interactions at various levels, one being healthcare provision. Research demonstrated a great need for sustained growth in the healthcare sector through increased medical tourism value (Virani et al., 2020). To begin with, the policy was found essential for establishing a registry for all medical tourism professionals. In today’s globalized world, there is an increase in the number of healthcare givers, necessitating a regulation to ensure that only accredited and highly qualified service providers are allowed to practice (Béland & Zarzeczny, 2018). This is to maintain the quality of care in the global health market.
Equality of Care and Financial Safety
In many countries, residents have depended on healthcare policies, such as Medicaid in the U.S., for their healthcare needs, which creates inequality among the eligible and ineligible groups. On this note, Ormond and Mainil (2015) found that the policy was needed to improve and foster medical care equality for medical tourists and residents especially in cases where government funding for medical care is limited. Lastly, the researchers found that this policy provided financial safety to resident countries (Labonté et al., 2018). As governments regulate their medical tourism services, they can attract more clients, growing their revenues.
Disparities Addressed by the Global Medical Tourism Policy
Varying Global Laws
Although the medical tourism policies cut across different states, each has its own views of medical tourism. There appear to be conflicts between the goals of protecting and developing one’s health and earning money through global trade. Although there is an increased appreciation of the need for collaboration across regions regarding medical tourism, the discussions on the requirements and debates on financial plans take place separately among countries (Virani et al., 2020). The global policy on medical tourism was therefore implemented to address these disparities and establish a unified law that replaces the varying global regulations.
Some nations may have stricter rules, making it challenging for medical tourists to access medical care and straining resources. From the information presented on Legal Compliance Issues for American Medical Tourism Health Practices – Cohen Healthcare Law Group | Healthcare Lawyers | FDA & FTC Law (2021), the global policy addressed some countries’ restrictive laws on medical tourism. Having a unified global policy, therefore, ensures that governments do not misuse their powers by overburdening medical tourists.
Application of Technology
Technology plays a crucial role in facilitating the implementation of efficient medical care for residents and medical tourists. However, the levels of technological advancement vary among nations. The need for improved MVT necessitates the formulation of a global policy to ensure that countries have a set benchmark regarding technology (Lunt et al., 2016). In addition to enhanced quality of care, the policy addresses the varying economic levels among nations since it provides a platform on which governments can generate revenue. In their study, Béland and Zarzeczny (2018) found that the economic gap between nations was significantly reduced through a globalized approach to medical tourism. In summary, the policy addresses regulation disparities among nations encourage a high level of technological application, and reduce the economic gaps among nations.
Policy Implications to Various Stakeholders
Medical tourism is a global undertaking that requires the collaboration of multiple stakeholders for value creation. However, each of these stakeholders has different views and roles in policy implementation and is affected differently by the various tenets of global regulation. Virani et al. (2020) comment that given the importance of developing a shared strategy and common goals for different sectors of medical tourism, different stakeholders should be encouraged to participate in medical tourism to generate value. In India, the Ministry of Health and the Department of Tourism are the major players who take a first-hand initiative on the policy implementation (Béland & Zarzeczny, 2018). Other key stakeholders include associations formed in the healthcare industry and commercial dealers, such as airline companies and hotels.
The government’s role in medical tourism regulation cannot be overstated. According to Ormond and Mainil (2015), the Government of India regards medical value travel and wellness tourism as critical areas capable of speeding the country’s growth and achieving the Aatmanirbhar Bharat agenda. A comprehensive plan and roadmap have been developed to accelerate the expansion of Medical Value Travel and wellness tourism in India and to sustain India’s competitive advantage (IMTJ Team, 2021). The National Strategy intends to establish an institutional framework for medical and wellness tourism, improve the ecosystem, build a brand, and ensure quality assurance. In many countries, governments view medical tourism as a source for revenue generation and promoting global interactions.
Trade associations view the global medical policy as an attractive avenue for practice and advocacy on healthcare equality. In India, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FCCI) is a non-governmental association advocating for traders’ rights in line with global tourism (IMTJ Team, 2021). The Confederation of India’s Industry (CII) has been on advocating for policies favorable to various stakeholders especially in the tourism industry (IMTJ Team, 2021). These two bodies reveal the roles and perspectives of non-governmental associations on the regulation of global health tourism. To these organizations, health tourism means more chances for globalization and revenue generation.
To consumers, global health tourism policy is crucial for facilitating medical care from any part of the world at an affordable cost. In many nations, medical tourists have benefited from regulated travel costs and quality medical care. The limitation on restrictive government rules has made it easier for medical tourists to visit their desired medical care destinations affordably. In addition, many countries have now embraced technological innovations, significantly improving the delivery of health care, which has alleviated medical burdens from many medical tourists (Lunt et al., 2016). Residents have also gained access to new and improved healthcare routines.
In conclusion, medical tourism entails the willful travel of patients for medical care. India is among the top-rated medical tourism destinations, which has made it necessary for various stakeholders to collaborate and enforce regulations for improved service delivery. The formulation process of the global medical tourism policy entails an evaluation by local governments and accreditation by global health regulators. The policy has eliminated healthcare access barriers, regulated government revenues, and reduced economic gaps among countries. Various stakeholders have different perspectives of medical tourism based on their benefits and roles played.
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