Reshaping medical tourism with AI

The tourism and travel sectors are a large and thriving industry, with almost 5 billion international tourist arrivals recorded in 2019, with an annual growth of 4% on the previous year. Yet, it suffered a major downturn globally due to Covid 19. Since the concept of healthcare has existed, humans have been willing to travel to access it. From the spas of the ancient Sumerians, Greeks, and Romans to the supposed curative properties of alpine and seaside health resorts in early modern Europe, the idea of travelling long distances for health reasons and marketing destinations for that purpose is certainly nothing new. However, lately, medical tourism has been growing due to the low-cost treatment, Specialization of medical agencies, hospitals, and medical professionals in the host countries. 

 Based on the 2020 UN World Tourism Organization statistics (UNWTO), it is necessary to research medical tourism packages, what kinds of consumers are attracted to buying such packages and how the industry may be changing from pre-COVID to post-COVID times. Lately, one needs to understand the dynamics of this sector and what motivates people to purchase or invest in these packages, especially according to the technological advances host countries bring to improving the proposed advertised services. 

 Medical tourism is travelling outside the country of residence to receive medical care. It is developing rapidly and becoming a global trend industry that generates billions of dollars and is a very small niche in the tourism sector.

Advent of technology  

Integrating IR 4.0 technologies in the general healthcare industry will benefit health tourism development as it will revolutionize patients’ travel options and patterns, particularly for the initial checking and later follow-up stages. Such a benefit becomes more significant among the elderly and those who may have mobility issues to travel. 

 Digitalized and connected health care saw increased investment over the past few years, and the widespread use of technology-enabled health care further made the idea of a “Smart Hospital” a reality. The call for the benefit of blockchain technology to enhance the safety and effective use of health data within the health tourism industry has gained attention in recent years. The availability of IR 4.0 technologies also enhances expert mobility virtually and further enhances the readiness of developing nations to receive their healthy tourists with an open hand. 

 According to PwC, India witnessed the highest increase in the use of AI during the pandemic. India saw a 73% AI adoption among healthcare and Pharma companies. Furthermore, 71% of the doctors in Australia and New Zealand believed that AI positively impacted the field of medical practice. As a result, by leveraging AI technologies, medical tourism providers can enhance patient experiences, streamline operations, and ensure optimal treatment outcomes.

Changes AI brings 

AI algorithms can analyze large amounts of patient data, including medical history, genetic information, and diagnostic reports, to facilitate efficient patient matching with the most suitable healthcare providers. Through sophisticated machine learning techniques, AI can assess the patient’s unique needs, preferences, and treatment goals, leading to the development of customized treatment plans. 

Similarly, AI-powered chatbots provide 24/7 support, providing accurate and timely responses to patient inquiries. AI also has predictive analytical capabilities. Medical tourism providers can analyze healthcare data to identify patterns and predict potential risks. 

 AI greatly facilitated telemedicine services, enabling access to the services remotely. AI algorithms can detect early warning signs of complications and prompt appropriate interventions. 

AI undoubtedly has the potential to revolutionize the field of medical tourism, offering numerous benefits to patients and healthcare providers. Integrating AI technologies enhances patient experiences, improves operational efficiency and maximizes treatment outcomes from personalized treatment plans to AI-driven chatbots and telemedicine solutions. 

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