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Understanding Culture in Medical Tourism by Dr Prem Jagyasi

Globalization across all sectors has brought complex cultural needs, in an already culturally diverse world. Understanding culture and behavior was important in healthcare to provide comprehensive care with a delightful experience, but it has certainly become essential in Medical Tourism as patients arrive with different cultural beliefs and from different geographies. Understanding of Culture in Medical Tourism is a two way process as the patient needs to understand the destination’s cultural beliefs as much as providers need to know and understand the patient’s cultural beliefs.

The understanding of cultural issues in Medical Tourism (Global Healthcare) is a two way process argues Dr Prem Jagyasi, a renowned Medical Tourism expert and consultant. Several Medical Tourism organizations believe that Understanding Culture in Medical Tourism is a one way process, and that they only need to understand patient’s cultural beliefs and behaviors. However, it is also necessary for a patient to understand the culture and behavior of the destination. The provider should take the responsibility of making cultural documents related to their destination available to patients.

Educating healthcare providers within a healthcare organization is a unilateral process, while educating patients, on the other hand, is a bilateral process. This will eventually bring comprehensive solutions for issues that arise from cultural diversity. While consulting within a variety of international healthcare organizations, I have realized that they are honestly willing to make an effort to educate their staff about understanding the cultural dissimilarity of international patients. They are also willing to teach providers about key cultural challenges arising from geographies, languages, religion, societies, beliefs, customs, traditions, and individual perceptions.

But, there seems to be a lack of effort on educating patients about what cultural beliefs a healthcare organization is following. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful solution if a healthcare organization also educates patients about destination related cultural activities? I argue that both healthcare providers and healthcare consumers (patient) need to understand cultural dissimilarity. I also emphasize that healthcare providers should arrange for such education for their patients; a small booklet or video demonstration can do wonders in this regard.

Most Healthcare MBA institutes teach Cultural Competency in their program, but so far, this requirement has been limited to cultural diversity within one geography because most of the patients were coming from one geography with different cultures and beliefs. However, Medical Tourism has turned the situation upside down and now patients come from an entirely different geography, which has created a significant need for bilateral cultural understanding.

Moreover, while consulting international healthcare organizations about the cultural understating of patients, my first question always remains the same — “Do you understand the cultural beliefs of your organization in relation to healthcare services? Isn’t it important to understand internal belief system before you start thinking about external belief systems? There is a great need of overall cultural understanding in Medical Tourism and healthcare.


About Dr Prem jagyasi

A successful entrepreneur and experienced strategic professional, Dr Prem Jagyasi is a renowned Chartered Management, Healthcare Marketing and Medical Tourism Consultant. He also serves the Medical Tourism Association—a Non Profit organization based in USA as Honorary Chief Strategy Officer. He is contributed extensively in Medical Tourism and is known for his distinctive thinking and approach in Medical Tourism. He could be contacted at |


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