Opportunities in the mist - The benefits of medical tourism in NZ
Health Headlines - September 2010
As the health sector continues to evolve, there is an emerging trend to bring outsourced elective surgery work back into the public health system, resulting in many private hospitals being underutilised. Medical tourism in New Zealand might be one way to fill the gap in capacity. Deloitte has recently conducted a strategic study for a client investigating the potential benefits medical tourism could bring to the New Zealand health sector and the wider economy. Our findings highlighted the competitive advantages and potential benefits of carrying out medical tourism in New Zealand.
Examples of opportunities and advantages are:
- If the New Zealand Health Sector is able to attract medical tourists then the spare capacity in private hospitals could be filled with patients who bring a greater economic benefit to the wider economy. These medical tourists are likely to spend time in New Zealand after their operation recuperating and possibly sightseeing, contributing further to our economy.
- The greatest and most lucrative market concentration of potential medical tourists for the New Zealand market is the West Coast of the U.S. Only a 12 hour non-stop flight from either Los Angeles or San Francisco it makes New Zealand relatively accessible in comparison with other Asian countries involved in medical tourism.
- The level of care and skill level of surgeons and anaesthetists are similar to the U.S. in the core procedures being targeted for medical tourism. This is an important factor to reassure patients and medical insurers who are looking at offshore medical procedures that they would be receiving a similar level of care as in the U.S.
- New Zealand is an attractive destination because procedure costs in New Zealand are less than half the cost compared to the United States, which makes it more affordable for uninsured patients paying for medical procedures and also for medical insurers.
- New Zealand is a first world country with similar values and culture as the U.S. which is likely to make New Zealand a more attractive destination for medical procedures in comparison to a number of other countries such as Thailand, Korea and Malaysia.
The current medical tourism market in New Zealand is very small, with New Zealand only receiving around 150 overseas patients a year. However, this is an area where the New Zealand private health system could develop and capitalise on the competitive advantage identified. Opportunities to expand this potential market are now being explored by a number of organisations involved in private healthcare. Medical tourism as a viable way for private hospitals to supplement their current patients, and boost the utilisation of their hospital bed nights.
We will keep you informed on the progress of this topic and any other industry developments in this area in future editions of Health Headlines.