Grey System Theory in the Study of Medical Tourism Industry and Its Economic Impact

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Feb 4;17(3):961. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17030961.


The Asia-Pacific region is known as a favorite destination for global medical travelers due to its medical expertise, innovative technology, safety, attractive tourism destination and cost advantage in the recent decade. This study contributes to propose an approach which effectively assesses performance of medical tourism industry based on considering the economic impact factors as well as provides a conceptual framework for the industry analysis. Grey system theory is utilized as a major analyzing approach. According to that, factors impact on the sustainable development of medical tourism in Asia-Pacific region could be identified. The performance of each destination in this region was simultaneously revealed. The results presented an overall perspective of the medical tourism industry in the scope of the Asia-Pacific region, and in Taiwan particularly. Data was collected on six major destinations including Singapore, Thailand, India, South Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan. The results proved that tourism sources and healthcare medical infrastructures play a crucial role in promoting the healthcare travel industry, while cost advantage and marketing effectiveness were less considered. In addition, performance analyse indicated that Thailand has a good performance and stands in the top ranking, followed by Malaysia, India, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, respectively. The revenue of Taiwan has increased slowly in the last six years, with a market worth approximately NT$20.5 billion, and the number of medical travelers is expected to increase to 777,523 by 2025. The findings of this study are expected to provide useful information for the medical tourism industry and related key players in strategic planning.

Keywords: Asia-Pacific region; Grey system theory; Taiwan; economic impact; medical tourism industry; performance evaluation; sustainable development.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • India
  • Malaysia
  • Medical Tourism / economics*
  • Republic of Korea
  • Singapore
  • Systems Theory
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Travel / economics*