The medical travel survivors of COVID-19 will be the ones that benefit in 2021


On December 31, 2019, the World Well being Group discovered about plenty of circumstances of pneumonia of unknown origin in Wuhan Metropolis, China. On January 7, Chinese language authorities recognized the trigger as a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), a member of the coronavirus household that had by no means been encountered earlier than. And the remainder is historical past… the world modified perpetually. However in December 2020, we’re nonetheless not over the worst.

So, how has medical journey modified in 2020?

Security first?

Earlier than the pandemic, the primary barrier to medical journey was security. Many sufferers definitely take into account travelling overseas for therapies that they want or need. They analysis locations, suppliers and costs. They submit enquiries concerning the remedy choices. However then, they fail to comply with by way of with a reserving. In essence, the excessive dropout price of potential medical travellers is right down to issues about security. Can I belief this physician/hospital/clinic? What are the possibilities of one thing going unsuitable? What occurs if I’ve a complication? Covid-19 implies that sufferers’ issues are actually even larger. Is that this vacation spot “Covid secure”? What occurs if I catch Covid-19 once I’m there?

The response from suppliers and locations has been combined. We’ve seen the looks of ‘Covid-safe’ certification for hospitals and clinics to construct confidence with potential sufferers about a person remedy centre.

Extra extensively, worldwide organisations, areas and locations have created their very own protocols to encourage secure journey and tourism and which can help the restoration of medical journey, together with:

  • The World Journey & Tourism Council has launched international Protected Travels protocols to be used by the journey and tourism sector as finest follow tips to assist restart and pace up the restoration of the sector within the wake of Covid-19. The Protected Travels stamp has already been adopted by many nations.
  • The Caribbean Public Well being Company’s new Well being Assurance stamp for More healthy Safer Tourism is an initiative set as much as shield the area’s tourism sector and safeguard public well being.
  • In Turkey, the Tradition and Tourism Ministry has launched a wholesome tourism certification programme to make sure excessive well being and hygiene requirements at airways, airports, different transportation services, lodging and meals venues.
  • The Airports Council Worldwide has established an Airport Well being Accreditation programme to offer airports with an evaluation of how aligned their well being measures are with the ACI Aviation Enterprise Restart and Restoration tips.

So, journey and tourism organisations have been busy making an attempt to “shield” their locations. However what about travellers, medical or in any other case, who’re involved concerning the threat and potential value of contracting Covid-19 whereas they’re away? There have additionally been developments to counter these issues:

  • HL Assurance and Changi Journey Companies have launched a brand new Covid-19 insurance coverage coverage for short-term guests to Singapore. The coverage affords as much as S$100,000 of hospitalisation cowl within the occasion the insured is contaminated with Covid-19 whereas staying in Singapore.
  • Emirates Airways is providing anybody who books a flight free international cowl for any Covid‑19 well being bills and quarantine prices {that a} passenger might incur.

Long run, regardless of the event of a vaccine, the concern of Covid‑19 will proceed to threaten the restoration of medical journey.

The brand new world of telehealth

If the affected person can’t journey to the hospital, can the hospital come to the affected person? With restrictions on journey prone to proceed for a while, the expansion of teleconsultation and telemedicine has continued apace. The Future Well being Index 2019 report confirmed that telehealth had but to develop into a standard a part of healthcare professionals’ day-to-day work, with 39% saying they didn’t at present use telehealth of their follow or hospital. The 2020 report could have halved that response, if no more so.

Covid-19 has resulted in an acceleration of the adoption of expertise in all walks of life. What was as soon as a pleasant to have has now develop into a vital part of the healthcare providing for each enterprise and hospital serving worldwide sufferers. If a hospital or clinic hasn’t invested in a devoted teleconsultation facility, then it’s not within the medical journey enterprise.

Survive or thrive?

In an October 2020 IMTJ article, Paul McTaggart, CEO of Dental Departures, summed up the problem for medical journey suppliers and hospitals serving worldwide sufferers. 2020 has been a case of survival of the fittest. The boundaries to journey have meant the disappearance of many small-scale businesses and facilitators who had neither the assets nor the finance to endure the lack of enterprise.

For a lot of hospitals the place worldwide affected person enterprise represents solely a small proportion of their income, their greatest problem has been managing the inflow of home Covid-19 sufferers; attracting worldwide sufferers has been the very last thing on their agenda. For these hospitals with devoted worldwide affected person departments and vital throughput, furloughing and shedding or repurposing workers has been the short-term resolution. Nonetheless, the short-term repair is turning into a for much longer time period determination. Will we keep within the worldwide affected person enterprise or is it time to exit?

A backlog of demand for remedy

Hospitals in lots of developed nations have had only one factor on their thoughts – the virus. It’s meant the cessation or extreme restriction of deliberate elective surgical procedure in lots of hospitals. The result’s a build-up of pent-up demand for knee and hip replacements, cataract operations and different non-life threatening procedures. Within the UK, the variety of NHS sufferers ready for greater than a 12 months for surgical procedure has gone from 1,032 to 83,203 in 12 months. The quantity ready for greater than 19 weeks has gone from 620,454 to 2,151,443.

There’s an identical image of pent-up demand for IVF remedy. Infertility clinics have been closed. Infertility journey has come to a cease. In accordance with the UK’s Guardian newspaper this week, “Many ladies concern their final likelihood to have a toddler might have disappeared”.

Well being programs throughout the globe will take a very long time to cut back the backlog. Looking for remedy overseas would be the solely possibility for a lot of sufferers. The medical journey survivors of COVID-19 would be the ones that profit.


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