Which country is the best for medical treatment? The quality level and the cost of healthcare in countries around the globe vary. This makes medical tourism quite popular with the growing number of patients who prefer to treat their conditions abroad. According to Patients Beyond Borders and its medical tourism statistics 2019, over 14 million people choose healthcare destinations abroad to receive medical services.
In this article, we focus on medical tourism trends and describe the specialties of the countries according to the experts’ opinion. This information relies on the Bookimed statistics, patients’ reviews, analysis of the health tourism in 32 countries, and data compiled from reliable sources, namely IMTJ, local ministries of health, and NCBI.
Our top 10 medical tourism destinations report aims to specify health care peculiarities for international patients in various countries, patients' preferences, and factors that affect their choice. Don’t interpret this article as a call to action and use it for informational purposes only.
Why is medical health tourism so popular with patients?
According to the Medical Tourism Association, the reasons why people choose other countries as their health tourism destinations instead of their homelands are as follows:
- 56% of patients want to obtain a higher quality of treatment
- 22% look for cheaper prices
- 18% seek a treatment option not available at home
- 10% want to receive treatment as soon as possible and without queues.
Being a leading platform for getting information about the best treatment across the world, Bookimed has composed the ranking of the top 10 destinations for medical tourism. The list of the best places for treatment is based on the Bookimed medical tourism ranking and patients' reviews, the level of healthcare in particular countries, prices for medical services, and doctors' experience.
Among the top 10 destinations for medical tourism are:
Check out the pros and cons of particular countries for medical tourism and choose the one that fits your condition, requirements, and budget the best.
According to the medical tourism country ranking, Thailand is considered one of the best destinations for receiving healthcare services in the world. It is a top medical tourism stop for patients from the USA, Canada, the Middle East, Europe, Vietnam, and Laos.
Thai institutions provide advanced medical services in orthopedics, oncology, plastic surgery, dentistry, ophthalmology, HIV/AIDS treatment, deliveries, etc.
Why do patients consider Thailand as one out of the top countries for medical tourism?
There are multiple reasons why over 2 million medical tourists choose Thailand annually and these are only some of them:
- Affordable prices for medical services. The fees are 50-80% lower than in the USA, Canada, or Europe.
- The advanced level of medicine. A lot of Thai medical centers are internationally certified. According to IMTJ, in summer 2019, there were 66 Joint Commission International-accredited medical centers in Thailand. This fact confirms that the level of treatment, doctors’ qualification, and patients’ safety in the country comply with strict international standards.
- Short waiting time to obtain treatment. The hospitals in Thailand accept foreign patients at the short notice. You just need to schedule the time of your arrival.
- The ability to combine medical procedures with holidays abroad. The great climate and amazing sightseeing attractions are also the reasons why Thailand is considered a health and medical tourism destination of the year.
Top hospitals for medical tourism in Thailand
Before the 2020th, over 700,000 foreign patients have chosen Turkey as a top medical tourism destination annually. For the last decade, Turkish healthcare has hit a world-class level due to billions of investments. Over 300 Turkish hospitals have developed relationships and affiliations with world-leading medical facilities such as the Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Clinic, the Memorial Sloan Kettering, etc. Such cooperation allows Turkish medical centers and doctors to receive the best international experience, implement the most advanced equipment, and become one of the top 10 medical tourism destinations in the world.
Why is Turkey chosen as one of the top countries for medical tourism?
Patients from the Middle East, North Africa, North America, Europe, and Russia consider Turkey one of the best countries for medical tourism due to:
- The world-class medicine. The Turkish doctors study and practice in the leading American and European clinics to receive new knowledge and experience.
- The state-of-the-art equipment. The Turkish hospitals listed below are equipped with the latest technologies, the same that are available in the leading American hospitals.
- Low prices. The fees for treatment in Turkey are 2-4 times lower than in the USA or Europe, and 1.5-2 times than in Thailand. The affordable costs are explained by the generally low pricing policy in the country, which is oriented to the average income of local citizens.
- All-inclusive service. Turkey is also one of the best medical tourism destinations because most hospitals focused on international patients provide free transfer, accommodation, and language assistance. It makes a foreigner feel comfortable and safe.
- The absence of queues. Most of Turkish hospitals are focused on foreigners and in urgent cases, they are ready to accept a patient within 1-2 days.
Patients choose Turkey destination for health tourism to treat neurosurgical, ophthalmological, oncological, cardiac, and orthopedic conditions. It is also one of the best medical tourism places to have plastic surgery. Organ transplant (kidney, liver, pancreas) is also in great demand due to the high success rate — 95%.
Best hospitals for medical tourism in Turkey
According to the MTI overview, India belongs to the top 10 medical tourism countries. Before the pandemic restrictions, every year over 460,000 international patients have chosen India along with other health tourism destinations. Mostly, they come from Bangladesh, Iraq, Nigeria, Kenya, and Pakistan. However, the number of patients from America, Canada, and Europe also increases each year.
India is one of the most promising countries for medical tourism: annually the quantity of foreign patients grows by 25% every year.
Why is India getting so popular for medical tourism?
- High level of medical care. There are 2 types of hospitals in India — state and private ones. Medical tourists go for treatment only to the private medical facilities. 22 of Indian private hospitals have the Joint Commission International (JCI) certificate. It confirms the compliance of treatment with strict international standards.
- Low prices. India is considered one of the best places for medical tourism due to the price-quality ratio of its healthcare sector. The treatment costs are some of the lowest in the world — the medical procedure of the same quality in the USA costs up to 10 times higher. Such low fees are explained by the general pricing policy in the country.
- High-quality generics. India produces the licensed analogs of American drugs (generics). Their production in India is 10-17 times cheaper than in the USA, that is why treatment in India is so affordable.
- World-recognized doctors. Currently, over 41,000 Indian doctors practice in the leading American and European hospitals, adopt their experience, and apply it at home. Some of the specialists have become the best in the world. For instance, Dr. Mohammed Rela is recognized as the best world transplant surgeon, included in the Guinness Book of Records. He has performed over 4,000 liver transplant procedures.
- No language barrier. Almost 100% of Indian doctors speak English which is why foreign patients won’t face problems with communication and can confidently choose India as their medical travel destination.
India is the best place for receiving medical services if you seek treatment in:
- hematology oncology
- cardiac surgery
Top hospitals for medical tourism in India
South Korea is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. Innovative developments are actively implemented in medicine. According to medical tourism websites, Korea has a high level of healthcare effectiveness. For example, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development states that South Korea holds the first place among other countries regarding the 5-year observed survival rate on the major cancers.
The number of people who consider South Korea one of the best places for medical tourism is about 700,000 patients annually.
Why may South Korea become the top medical tourism destination in the world?
- Well-trained doctors. The South Korean healthcare sector applies strict demands to medical students. Only 1% of scholars become doctors after a rigorous selection.
- Internationally accredited hospitals. The required condition for leading medical centers is to receive JCI accreditation. Today, there are 11 JCI-accredited facilities that are appealing to patients and make South Korea one of the most popular medical tourism destinations.
- The state-of-the-art equipment. Such companies as Samsung, LG, and Hyundai produce medical equipment specifically for South Korean hospitals. The machinery and electronic devices are renewed every 3-5 years. Due to this, South Korea takes the 2nd place regarding the level of technical equipment in the world.
The most popular specialties with medical tourists are:
- oncology (South Korea has one of the highest recovery indexes in the world — 99.7% for thyroid cancer, 90.6% for breast cancer, 65.6% for stomach cancer)
Top hospitals for medical tourists in South Korea
250,000 patients from about 170 countries choose Germany as the best country for medical tourism annually. According to the MTI overview, in 2020-2021 Germany will hold 12th place worldwide for the quality of service it provides and the technologies it applies. This country takes top positions regarding the number of investments in medicine development.
Why is Germany considered one of the top medical tourism spots?
- Innovative technologies. German hospitals are equipped with the most precise diagnostic and surgical devices to achieve the best treatment results. German doctors also conduct valuable scientific research. Among their breakthrough achievements is a possibility to clean the HIV positive men’s seminal fluid off the virus to perform IVF.
- State-level certification. Each German hospital must receive approval from numerous organizations such as the German Institute of Standardization, Cooperation for Quality and Transparency in Healthcare, etc. These certificates ensure the quality and safety of the patients’ treatment.
- Original drugs. All drugs used in German hospitals are produced inside the country according to the strict standards of the European Union. The correspondence to the EU healthcare requirements is crucial for many patients who search for medical tourism by country.
- Price transparency. The fees for medical services are regulated on the state level, so foreigners face the same expenditures as local citizens. The treatment cost in Germany is 2-3 higher than in Turkey or Thailand. But it is possible to obtain cheaper options even in Germany — choose the hospitals located in small towns, not big cities like Berlin or Munich. It allows saving 10-30% of your money.
Patients choose Germany as the top country for medical tourism to treat almost any condition. However, the most popular specialties are:
- cardiac surgery
- hematology oncology.
Top places for medical tourism in Germany
Switzerland is a less popular medical tourism destination compared to the above-mentioned countries because it’s one of the most expensive places in Europe. However, it is not a point for medical tourists who value the quality of treatment. Switzerland is loved by medical tourists from Brazil, China, India, and Middle Eastern countries.
Why do people consider Switzerland as one of the best countries for health tourism?
- High level of treatment. Swiss hospitals comply with the strictest European and international standards of treatment, so a patient receives the most qualitative medical help.
- The trendiest equipment. The Swiss government makes enormous investments in the development of local healthcare, so only innovative technologies are used which makes Switzerland an appealing medical tourism destination for patients with acute or severe conditions.
- Over 300 hospitals across the country. Despite the small size of Switzerland, there are a lot of medical facilities within the country. They help patients without queues and provide high-quality medical care.
- Highland climate that stimulates recovery. Switzerland is located between mountains, so patients can enjoy the freshest air and picturesque views.
- VIP services. Most Swiss hospitals offer luxurious conditions of stay — the wards are like 5-star hotels with an amazing view. Medical facilities provide language assistance, transfer, and the staff makes all their best for the patient's comfort.
Choosing Switzerland as the best medical tourism destination for treatment, a patient will pay more but also will receive exceptional medical care and full assistance.
Best hospitals for medical tourism in Switzerland
Spain is not as well-known as Germany among international patients but the situation changes. According to the medical tourism statistics, each year more and more medical tourists from Great Britain, France, the USA, and the Near East choose Spain. There are over 750 hospitals, 22 of which are JCI-certified. Spanish clinics perform 2.4 million surgeries every year.
Spain offers advanced treatment of pediatric oncology. For instance, Sant Joan De Deu Hospital is one of the best medical facilities in Europe and worldwide that accepts children with oncology. Due to clinical trials and developments, the specialists have achieved an 84% cure rate for patients with Ewing’s sarcoma and lymphoblastic leukemia: these are the best indexes in Europe. Among the most powerful facilities in neurosurgery and neurology is Teknon Medical Center.
Why do foreigners choose Spain for medical tourism?
- High ranking. The Spanish healthcare system takes the 7th place in the world according to the World Health Organization. Some of the world-known doctors work here, for example, the pioneer in reconstructive breast surgery, Dr. Federico Perez de la Romana.
- Affordable prices. The treatment cost in Spain is approximately at the same level as in Germany and other European countries, but the fees are 2-3 times lower than in the USA or Canada.
- Chance to have treatment and holidays abroad. Spain is the top country among tourists for its outstanding nature, culture, and mild climate. Patients can combine high-quality treatment with an unforgettable vacation.
Patients consider Spain as one of the best medical tourism countries in such specialties as:
- plastic surgery.
Top hospitals in Spain for medical tourism
The Italian healthcare system complies with the highest European standards which makes it one of the top countries in the medical tourism ranking 2019. Local hospitals provide advanced treatment of neurosurgical, orthopedic, cardiac, and orthopedic diseases.
Esthetic medicine is also highly-developed in Italy. It is a less popular medical tourism destination among foreign patients nowadays but it has a promising perspective for the future.
Why is it worth choosing Italy as a medical tourism destination?
- Innovative approach. Some Italian hospitals are involved in scientific research (San Raffaele Ospedale, for instance) in the field of molecular medicine to treat diseases of the nervous system, metabolic, immune, and genetic pathologies.
- A possibility to combine the treatment with holidays abroad. Italy is a top destination among tourists. The country attracts people with its cozy colorful towns, historical sites, picturesque nature, and delicious food. The climate is mild and may speed up the recovery after treatment.
The pricing policy in Italian hospitals is at the same level as in Germany or Spain.
Best destinations for medical tourism in Italy
Israel is one of the most underestimated medical tourism destinations in the world. It takes the 8th place regarding the quality of medical services according to MTI.
Annually only 30,000 patients visit this country to undergo treatment, mostly from the CIS countries. However, the trend is changing, and each year more and more people find out about Israel as one of the best places for medical tourism.
Why do patients consider Israel as one of the best places for health tourism?
- Compliance with strict medical standards. Both state and private hospitals are on the same high level regarding technical equipment. They comply with the strictest world treatment standards.
- Highly-trained doctors. Israeli doctors have to study in colleges and universities for 13-15 years depending on their specialty. The educational program includes compulsory practice in American and European hospitals. Such an approach has allowed achieving a 97% safety rate during medical procedures which is the highest in the world. Some of the world-known doctors work in Israelian clinics, for example, the pioneer in pediatric epilepsy, Professor Uri Kramer.
- Advanced equipment. Israeli hospitals are equipped with the same high-level machinery and electronic devices as leading European or American medical facilities.
The primary specialties for treatment are:
- oncology — the average treatment efficiency is 80%
- neurosurgery — 98% is a success rate for surgeries on the brain and spinal cord, the highest in the world
- IVF — 60% is a success rate.
Popular medical tourism destinations in Israel
Ukraine is not a top destination for medical tourism among inbound patients, however, it is getting more popular each year due to low prices and exceptional medical services in some fields.
The Ukrainian hospitals listed on this page comply with European healthcare standards and provide high-quality medical care. Ukraine offers cost-effective treatment in stem cell therapy, cardiac disease treatment, ophthalmology, dentistry, and plastic surgery.
Why is Ukraine among the top 10 countries for medical tourism?
- Unique treatment options. Doctors in several Ukrainian clinics apply fetal stem cells for therapy and this kind of treatment is not available in most countries of the world. Stem cells are immature cells that have the ability to renovate themselves and transform into any specific ones in the body. They are applied to treat neurological, ophthalmological, orthopedic, endocrine, heart diseases, skin defects like scars, burns, and injuries. Specialists apply stem cell therapy in combination with rehabilitation for patients with autism, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, etc. to achieve great results. That is why Ukraine is a top country for medical tourism in this field.
- Affordable prices. Ukraine is a developing country, so the general pricing policy here is low which makes it an affordable medical travel destination. A patient receives treatment 2-3 times cheaper than in Germany, Italy, or Spain. You will also pay less for accommodation, meals, and transport.
- European level of medicine. Medical centers that receive international patients employ doctors who practice in Europe and the US and the hospital rooms are comfortable to stay in and quite affordable in price.
Best places for medical tourists in Ukraine
It can be difficult to choose the country for medical tourism, especially when it’s your first treatment abroad. Due to this, Bookimed works 24/7 to assist you in medical trip arranging.
We cooperate with 670+ medical centers worldwide and have already helped over 463,300 patients. That is why we know all details regarding treatment in any country and hospital represented on our website. Bookimed managers stay in touch with a patient during the whole period of treatment to solve any unforeseen issue.
Our services are free of charge for a patient. All the bills are paid right in the hospital and coincide with the pricing policy of the chosen healthcare provider. Bookimed acts as a guarantor of a fair financial relationship between a patient and a medical facility.
Submit a request to contact our specialists and find your perfect medical tourism destination.