China is a land of contrasts. It’s a country of rich traditions mixed with thriving capitalism; a vast and varied landscape that covers seven time zones; wide-ranging economic and social developments for rich and poor; and the yin and yang of medical tourism: some patients are coming, and some are going.
Many of China’s nouveau riche are luxury travelers who head overseas (because they can!) for high-end healthcare in affluent locations. They’re going to places like Western Europe for indulgent hotel stays, shopping sprees, and expensive procedures like stem cell treatments, spa therapy, and detoxification programs.
Chinese government is promoting the country as a world-class medical tourism destination
The other side of the story is the effort the Chinese government is making to promote the country as a world-class medical tourism destination in its own right. A big-time push is underway to grasp their fair share of the lucrative and growing healthcare travel market, one in which six million patients go abroad for treatment each year to the tune of an estimated $100 billion USD. In 2013, a huge portion of these travelers are heading to Asian medical tourism hot spots like Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, so why can’t medical tourism China join the fun?
The simple answer is that it can, as the powers in Shanghai, Beijing, and several other locations understand all too well. They’re selling patients all over the world on the country’s modern hospitals and technology, English-speaking doctors and surgeons, and excellence in both common and cutting-edge procedures that are popular with medical tourists like infertility treatments, stem-cell therapy, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and gamma knife radiosurgery for brain cancer, to name a few.
With regard to the precise locations, as we’ve mentioned, the big cities like Shanghai and Beijing – with their top-notch facilities and oftentimes Western-trained doctors – have taken serious steps towards becoming legitimate destinations in the competitive medical tourism marketplace. The former, in fact, established the Shanghai Medical Tourism Products and Promotion Platform (SHMTPPP) which is an official government-supported medical tourism portal. It is tasked with promoting China as a leading destination for advanced healthcare, and its website provides a wealth of information pertaining to China’s top hospitals, the most popular procedures with overseas patients, and costs.