We are lacking important definitions and clarity in the international healthcare and medical travel sector. The term “medical tourism” has been seized upon and popularized by the eponymous Medical Tourism Association, which itself is mislabeled as an “association” which it is legally, but not in reality. In the interests of full disclosure, I also initially used the term in my research and strategic marketing work, choosing to title my book “Medical Tourism Marketing.” Elizabeth Ziemba has done the sector an excellent service by offering a thoughtful start to segment definitions.
In an article that appears in the International Medical Travel Journal, Elizabeth lays out a cogent differentiation between and among “medical tourists”, “medical travelers” and “international patients”. The article makes the important point that the sector has poor data in large measure because there are no agreements about how to categorize consumers’ behavior. Elizabeth offers an important set of labels that those of us working in the sector should all try to apply right way.