For many years, Harley Street has been a centre of medical excellence, attracting patients from across the UK and across the world. But as healthcare systems around the world develop, London’s international business comes under threat from both its traditional competitors and new entrants to the international patient (“medical tourism”) sector.
In the healthcare sector around the world, medical tourism has become the next “big thing”. In the past twelve months, conferences on medical tourism have taken place in Malaysia, Turkey, India, Australia, USA, Germany, Costa Rica, Ukraine, Russia, Iran and Jordan. UK representatives are rarely seen at these events.
The slumbering giant of medical travel
London has become “the slumbering giant of medical travel”.
Some 80 plus countries now consider themselves to be medical tourism destinations and are actively marketing their services abroad.
- Tourism Boards are working with other government departments (Economy, Health) to fund and stimulate national initiatives.
- Healthcare providers are working together synergistically to create what has become known as a “medical tourism cluster” and drive a concerted effort to promote their services. (Harley Street is probably the biggest medical tourism cluster anywhere in the world…. but the providers don’t work together).
- Inbound medical tourism portals, online and print-based destination guides are the norm.
- Centralised patient call centres for international patients are becoming a requirement for handling patient enquiries and support.
- Concierge services are provided as standard to provide non-clinical support to visiting patients, their relatives and companions.
- Harley Street is losing out to competing destinations for patients from its Middle East source markets. And new source markets (e.g. Russia and CIS) are emerging which are being paid little attention.
The event will bring together the key participants in the provision of healthcare in Central London to consider the options for the future of Harley Street.