By now, you’ve heard all the hype about the potential growth of the medical travel industry and how US patients are fleeing the country to get affordable care. Unfortunately, the experts agree, that there are few reliable statistics about the size and growth of the market, there are no common definitions of a medical traveler, comparisons of revenues and costs are hard to make, and there remain persistent, nagging barriers to widespread adoption by patients, payers and physicians.
That said, investors are still clinging to the promise of big returns fueled by patients losing their health benefits because of high unemployment, the aging population requiring more units of care and exploding costs of healthcare. If you think the medical travel industry is set to explode, there are some areas of investment to consider:
Foreign Healthcare infrastructure
Ambulatory surgery centers
Clinical labs and imaging centers
Disease specific treatment facilities like cancer centers, stem cell centers, etc
Foreign Travel and hospitality infrastructure
Tools and support companies
Data analytics and business intelligence
Quality, price and value determinations
Companies offering alternative pricing mechanisms
Supporting global healthcare insurance and travel products
Follow up care
Infectious disease management
Geopolitical risk insurance
Firms in the medical travel supply chain
Medical travel facilitators and specialty travel agents
Medical concierge ground operators
Currency exchange risk managers
Expatriate retirement health cities and communities
Like other industry sectors, gold, for example, you can invest in the product itself, the people who create the product, or investments that pools risks, like mutual funds or exchange traded funds.
Look for companies in markets where the supply of care does not meet the demands of a growing middle class, that provide products and services delivering low, cost high volume care, and that provide platforms and infrastructure designed to reduce transaction costs for billing and collecting and value-based information.