Reflections on 'medical tourism' from the 2016 Global Healthcare Policy and Management Forum

BMC Proc. 2017 Jul 13;11(Suppl 8):6. doi: 10.1186/s12919-017-0075-8. eCollection 2017.


In October 2016, the Global Healthcare Policy and Management Forum was held at Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea. The goal of the forum was to discuss the role of the state in regulating and supporting the development of medical tourism. Forum attendees came from 10 countries. In this short report article, we identify key lessons from the forum that can inform the direction of future scholarly engagement with medical tourism. In so doing, we reference on-going scholarly debates about this global health services practice that have appeared in multiple venues, including this very journal. Key questions for future research emerging from the forum include: who should be meaningfully involved in identifying and defining categories of those travelling across borders for health services and what risks exist if certain voices are underrepresented in such a process; who does and does not 'count' as a medical tourist and what are the implications of such quantitative assessments; why have researchers not been able to address pressing knowledge gaps regarding the health equity impacts of medical tourism; and how do national-level polices and initiatives shape the ways in which medical tourism is unfolding in specific local centres and clinics? This short report as an important time capsule that summarises the current state of medical tourism research knowledge as articulated by the thought leaders in attendance at the forum while also pushing for research growth.

Keywords: Medical tourism; Medical travel; Research.

Publication types

  • Case Reports