12-Jul-18, Bloomberg Businessweek

About 14 mn people spent USD68 bn on medical tourism in 2016, a growing number of whom are Westerners headed to developing countries for cosmetic surgery or dental work.

Future growth will be built not on nose jobs and dental implants but on costlier and riskier procedures with longer recovery times, such as knee replacements and heart surgeries.

Startups look to mainstream medical tourism (c) Andrea Chronopoulos Bloomberg Businessweek

Image: Andrea Chronopoulos / Bloomberg Businessweek

Startups from Berlin to Bangkok are trying to do for medical tourists what Airbnb or Hotels.com does for the general public. Instead of searching for a place to stay, users type in a medical procedure and get a list of clinics or doctors in nations that offer the surgery - scroll and click on a link to make an appointment.

The companies charge providers a commission for bookings or a flat subscription fee to be on the platform. And they're working on additional revenue streams, such as planning beach vacations for recuperating patients and their families, most likely by integrating their platforms with popular travel sites.

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 Healthcare insights