Medical Tourism to Thailand, curse or blessing?

1st of January 2013 0

Medical Tourism to Thailand, curse or blessing?

medical tourism thailand Medical tourism to Thailand, curse or blessing?

Thai hospital

Prince Mahidol, the father of King Bhumibol, was a physician, trained among others at Harvard, where in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Prince Bhumibol (later King) was born. Bhumibolâ € ™ s mother, Srinagarinda, was a civilian nurse and girl.

Prince Mahidol taught at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok and established a fund for medical students abroad to study. As a prince he was not allowed in the Siriraj Hospital to ordinary patients’ care to do. He then moved to Chiang Mai where he was in the hospital McCormick missionaries two years, until his death in 1929, the ordinary hospital medicine practiced. He was by his patients’ â € ~ the prinsdokterâ € ™ called, and still enjoys fame.


Annually see doctors in Thailand 1.5 million foreigners in their office. The majority of them are expats and tourists but an increasing number are foreigners who come to Thailand specifically with the intent here for treatment, medical tourists called. That some real medical tourists under which foreigners are not tracked but a good estimate cites a number of 500,000 to 700,000 persons. That number is growing by 10-15 percent per year and Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia «overtaken as the main hub for medical tourism in South East Asia”. Thailand is cheaper and offers the same quality.

In 2003 the government adopted a plan to encourage medical tourism, promotion through the Tourism Authority (TAT: â € ~ We just want kwaliteitstoeristenâ € ™) and tax benefits were a part of it. That coincided approximately with the beginning of the 30-baht universal program (for 30 baht per case free access to all health) that the pressure on the existing facilities already greatly increased.

Shortage of doctors and nurses; skewed about Thailand

There is a chronic shortage of doctors and nurses in Thailand. The English language newspaper â € ~ The Nationa € ™ estimates the shortage of doctors and nurses at 40,000 to 50,000. Thailand leads only 1,200 doctors per year, even enough for domestic needs.

Thailand has five doctors per 10,000 inhabitants, for Malaysia “is number 10 and the Netherlands 30. Thirty-six percent of all Thai doctors working outside the direct patients’ care, universities, companies and the bureaucracy. Twenty percent of the physicians working in private hospitals and only 16 percent in state hospitals, primarily in rural areas.

Moreover, the distribution of physicians wrote about Thailand rather drawn: 1 doctor per 800 inhabitants in Bangkok, 1 per 5,000 in the Isaan and about 1 per 2,500 in the rest of the country. The situation has improved a lot since 1996 when there were 21 district hospitals without a single doctor. Doctors are required for several years to work in a rural district hospital after graduation but that they can buy.

addition there are 30,000 nursing specialists, a function between nurse and doctor, who in many small health centers in each (sub) district in particular preventive health do: think of education, vaccinations and maternal and child health. This is the basis of public health. Furthermore knows almost every village volunteers, sick, disabled and elderly visits to health can be detected.

Doctors jobs in; over to private hospitals

thai Hospital Medical Tourism to Thailand, curse or blessing?
In 2006, the salaries of doctors in state hospitals nearly doubled, up to now between 40,000 and 80,000 baht per month. This to the course to private hospitals, which are between 5 and 10 times the pay reduction. Yet klust a large part of the doctors in state hospitals, in addition to their regular hospital work, when in private clinics, which they could double their income. Workdays of 12 hours and then 6-7 days a week are no exception.

The â € ~ € ™ plattelandsartsenâ who work in state hospitals, have their own organization, their interests and working in state hospitals to promote. Each year you will receive a rural doctor price due outstanding merits. Many of these doctors do not go for gold but for services to the population in rural areas. Many others do not. This organization of rural doctors against medical tourism, because prices would increase and much needed doctors from the general health would otherwise experience.

to dentists is possibly an even greater deficit and also for dentistry, there is a considerable number of medical tourists, but I did not go further into it.

Medical tourism is profitable, growth will continue

medical tourism is a lucrative industry, designed and developed to have to earn. To achieve that goal, the settings where medical tourists to turn adapted in a way that a kind amalgamation of tourism and medicine should become. No effort is spared to the medical tourists to make sense. There is a price tag on.

Above I mentioned a figure of 500,000 to 700,000 medical tourists, in the past, growing by 10 to 15 percent per year and the predictions are that this growth will continue.

A conservative estimate for the total turnover of medical tourists is 50-70 billion baht in the next 5 years, rising to 100 billion baht.

Hospital thailand Medical Tourism to Thailand, curse or blessing?

Bumrungrad International Hospital, a â € ~ 5-star Hotela € ™

Let this hospital under the microscope. In Thai, the à ¸ £ à ¹ Œ â € ~ Roongphajabaan (middle, high, high, medium tone) Bamroengraadâ € ™ (middle, middle, falling tone), which ironically â € ~ Care for the Volkâ € ™ means. It employs 1200 experienced (over 10 years) and highly qualified doctors, many with a (partly) foreign training. They shall provide annually one million patients’ including 400,000 foreigners. The percentage of medical tourism is not tracked but over 50 percent is a good estimate.

from Europe every year about 25,000 help seekers, the same number from North America and East Asia “and 100,000 from the Middle East, mostly from the rich Gulf states which an entirely separate department was set up. The hospital is classified as a visitor in a 5 star hotel make, medical and other odors distressing cases are as much as possible to nose and obscured.

A consultation with a doctor takes approximately 30 minutes, in sharp contrast to a state hospital where a meager 3 minutes. The medical care and general care are excellent. There are no significant waiting lists. In short, an ideal hospital.

Financial burps the hospital well. The share price (Bumrungrad Hospital Public Company Limited) in the past year increased from 50 to now 75 baht per share. The annual turnover of 13 billion baht (doubled in six years) and profit 2.5 billion.

Bumrungrad advertising around the world, in a way that Mercedes Benz jealous.

Bumrungrad Medical Tourism to Thailand, curse or blessing? ' src=

Bumrungrad International Hospital

The medical tourism in perspective

Let me start with the benefits. The medical tourism brings in money, an estimated 50-70 billion baht, increasing in the years to perhaps 100 billion. A number of well-trained doctors will return to Thailand or not (more) want to leave. Knowledge and experience remain in Thailand, where would the population in the years of benefit. The relationship between doctor and patient «nt in Thailand is very authoritarian (partly due to lack of time), while those in the private hospitals significantly more open and balanced. There is a Thai doctor of learning.

Then the disadvantages. The medical tourism has taken a group of Thais who do not wish to make use of the 30-baht program and in the past have turned to private hospitals. For many in the middle class is now too expensive. The medical tourism personnel has been sucked from the public sector. Maybe 1-2 percent of all doctors and nurses (and the most qualified) now work in the medical tourism industry, but is expected this will rise further in the coming years. This puts extra pressure on the overburdened staff in state hospitals and further disrupts the already unbalanced balance between urban and rural areas.

One comment I read (Gerry, 2006) said, perhaps a bit exaggerated, as follows: â € ~ Every time a foreigner against foreign prices a Thai doctor consult, an opportunity denied to a Thai to same doctor to consult for a Thai honorarium.â € ™ also is often complained about the fact that the doctors who work for medical tourists, mostly with Thai tax dollars are trained and there is little in return.

medical tourists who undergo treatment, have to sign him to medical errors are only entitled to collect within the Thai legal system and who are very conservative in this respect.

And one last personal observation, I can not with literature support. In the hospitals where many medical tourists, is to overdiagnosis and overtreatment done to increase revenue. Doctors are only human, and there must be profit. Excess diagnostics and interventions is often more harmful than too little. Two examples: the advertising that is created for stem cell therapy, an unproven treatment and the push for medical check-upa € ™ s, which is totally unnecessary and sometimes harmful for people with no complaints about their health.

Bumrungrad 1 Medical Tourism to Thailand, curse or blessing ?

Bumrungrad International Hospital

What next?

Although, almost obscene, contrast between such Bumrungrad and an average rural hospital me repugnant, I believe that medical tourism is a fact. (One question: should we accept such a contrast in the Netherlands?) I am not in favor of do’s and don’ts, let’s take for granted. But I do believe that medical tourism to some extent detrimental to the health of the average Thai.

I advocate a tax of say 10-20 percent on sales of medical tourism, perhaps a 10 billion baht can muster. From ZOA € ™ s fund better medical facilities are funded elsewhere (including more training for doctors). And maybe that doctors who now works only for medical tourists, be prepared for a reasonable fee a portion of their time to devote to treating Thai patients’ in the provinces.

end of 2015 the borders were opened within the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). What impact will this have on the health care workers? This is a huge challenge and Thailand would do well to prepare themselves for it.

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