Travelling for healthcare reasons was a growing trend until the COVID-19 pandemic grounded planes and closed borders, stopping travel in its tracks. Now, as borders open up again, the medical tourism industry is seeing growth once more. Yet, any kind of intervention brings with it risks, so how can we trust the provider before agreeing to pack our bags? An ISO standard for service requirements has been published to help patients choose with confidence.
Whether for knee replacements or aesthetic surgery, thousands of patients seek treatment in another country each year, contributing to a market that was worth over USD 100 billion in 2019 alone. That figure is expected to rise to over USD 270 billion by 2027 as the access to quicker, lower-cost treatments, the reputation of medical professionals and the availability of technologies and equipment continue to make it an attractive option for many.
Conscious of the dilemma many patients must face in choosing a reputable provider, and the need for consistency and trust in the industry, ISO has published global best practice on service requirements. ISO 22525, Tourism and related services – Medical tourism – Service requirements, establishes the requirements and recommendations to be provided by facilitators and healthcare providers in medical tourism. It is intended to ensure a quality service provision that meets the expectations of those travelling for medical reasons.
Mónica Figuerola Martín, Convenor of the group of experts that developed the standard, said the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in even longer waiting lists for non-urgent procedures such as elective surgery, which is boosting demand for medical tourism services now that borders are opening up.
“The pandemic is not over and some countries still don’t have the full healthcare resources they had before, driving many more people to seek treatment elsewhere,” she said.
“This period has also highlighted to many of us how important our health really is, resulting in a demand for even higher standards of safety and security than ever before. This standard is intended to not only guide consumers but help service providers give the best possible experience and care.”
The standard covers the whole patient experience, from pre-travel processes through to return home and follow-up, including the management of risk factors, safety and security, information and communication, qualification requirements and more.
ISO 22525 was developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 228, Tourism and related services, whose secretariat is held by UNE, ISO’s member for Spain. It can be purchased from your national ISO member or the ISO Store.