Irving Stackpole, President of Stackpole & Associates, will be talking about Where have we got it right… and where have we gone wrong? at the IMTJ Medical Travel Summit 2015. He talked to us about how early growth predictions are still affecting the industry.
The rabid enthusiasm that was generated for the medical tourism sector back in the mid 2000s, before the 2008 crash, was really unburdened by any in-depth knowledge of healthcare whatsoever. Those of us that had been in the business for 30 or 40 years saw this as boosterism and shook our heads with wry smiles.
Since then there’s definitely been a rush to seize upon the perceived opportunities of international medical travel. But for every organisation that has been enthusiastically promoting the sector’s economic opportunities, there is a wealth of reports stating that the industry has not delivered the promoted benefits.
While that level of growth hasn’t been achieved, the international medical travel sector is still strong. For example, dental tourism is absolutely leading the pack, and we’re also seeing a robust trade for individuals travelling from countries with IVF restrictions to countries that have none.
So what does the future hold for the industry? The OECD has some good numbers on where the sector is now, and is predicting that globally the sector will continue to progress at about 20% CAGR over some foreseeable time, which is a robust growth that beats the heck out of other sectors.
Where that growth will occur and at what speed, and what events will inhibit or accelerate growth, are all open questions. What will occur is harmonization of information through the internet, and through regional and international cooperation, education, training and communications.
I believe that we’re currently experiencing a tipping point, and will start to see a gentle deflation of the hyperbole bubble that’s been created.
Awareness is beginning to creep in that the sector is a global business with an extraordinary array of incentives and barriers, and we’re starting to see some serious research into these incentives and barriers.
It’s not until these issues start to be better understood that providers, and destinations, will be able to carry out the legitimate planning and development that other rational business sectors undertake.