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Basic information:- :

Basic information:- Medical tourism plays a significant role in shaping the future of medical care globally, due to the growth of technology, economy, and other global relations.  In medical tourism, these facilitators play a significant role as moderator in engaging between the prospective patients in one country and medical facilities elsewhere around the world. To date, the literature in medical tourism has focused almost exclusively on patients and health care providers.

Introduction:- :

Introduction:- Globally, medical or health tourism has become one of the fastest growing tourism sectors with many countries strategically planning for their economic expansion. Some researchers have considered health and medical tourism as a combined phenomenon but with different importance. Carrera and Bridges (2006a)identified health tourism as ones organized travel outside their local environment for the maintenance, enhancement or restoration of an individual s well-being in mind and body.

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The global market share of medical tourism is expected to reach US$100 billion in 2012 since in 2006 alone the industry was estimated at US$60 billion (Hansen, 2008; Macready, 2007). Estimated statistics by the World Tourism Organization showed that the number of individuals engaged in healthcare tourism have increased by 32% between 2005 2010 with 42% increase in revenue which contributes US$728.7b to the industry in 2010. Asia countries received 4.3 million medical tourists in 2010 generating revenue over US$6.7 billion and has become among the most preferred destinations for medical treatment. Medical tourism in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, andIndia alone is predicted to generate more than US$4.4 billion annual income by 2012.

Impact on economy:- :

Impact on economy:- According to Ramirez de Arellano (2007), investing in the medical industry sector is a means of increasing income for the country, improving services, generating foreign exchange earnings, creating more favorable balance of trade, and boosting tourism industry generally that medical tourism will play a significant role in shaping the future of medical care globally, as it sits at the growing intersections of technology, economy, cultural and other global relations.

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1. The Growth of Medical Tourism:- As defined by Gupta (2004), medical tourism consists of cost-effective medical care for patients which collaborate with the tourism industry. While having the advantage of medical surgery or treatment in a chosen destination country, health travelers can also vacationing at the same time. medical tourism is a popular cultural phenomenon when people make along journey in order to obtain medical, dental and surgical services while vacationing.  The active regions and countries delivering medical tourism services include Asia (Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore). America (Costa Rica, Mexico, Brazil, and Cuba); theMiddle East (particularly Dubai and Jordan)

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2. The Evolution of Facilitators:- In fact, nowadays, many tourists combine a holiday with health care. countries that offer medical care are competing for these tourists in terms of price, quality, and package attractiveness Current data from mymedicaltourguide.com indicated that India has the highest number of medical travel facilitators or agencies in assisting medical tourist trip.

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3. Medical Travel Facilitator Role:- The global growth of medical treatment as well as medical technology, expertise and medical tourist facilitators has opened world of options for patients and their families. Medical Retreat Abroad, Malaysian Medi Travel and Co., play an important role as moderators connecting a potential consumer with a foreign healthcare provider in arranging medical, dental or a cosmetic treatment outside the consumer s home country. From the customers viewpoint, with the increased stress and less free time coupled into characteristics of modern society, travelling packages provided by tour operators save their valuable time.

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4. Medical Travel Facilitator Services Accordingly, Gain and Frederick (2011) stressed on the common form of partnerships between facilitators with key industry players so as to create start to-finish experience for potential patients and allow value to be built along the consumer s medical journey. medical travel facilitators can be divided into four groups: Hotel Groups, such as the ITC- Well Campgroup in India, extended services acting as facilitator between the patient and the provider. Travel Agencies, such as Commonwealth Travel in Singapore, provide tour plans and organize logistics for health travelers. Medical Travel Planners, such as Med Retreat, Planet Hospital, Global Choice Healthcare, and Bridge Health International, act as patient representatives in finding treatment abroad.

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5. The Importance of Medical Travel Facilitators:- As Lawton and Page (1997) claimed, their knowledge and information has a significant impact on destination choice. In addition, unfamiliar tourists and those people who travel internationally are most likely to use the travel agency services when travel A study by Alsharif , Labonté , and Zuxun Lu (2010) indicated that 50% respondents in India and 52% in the United Arab Emirates use medical brokerage firms to help them arrange the travelling and booking procedures for out of country health care options.

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6. Conclusion:- Medical tourism industry has benefited international patients with a wider spectrum which include travel and tourism, commercial sector, government relationships and international accreditation sector. Studies also have indicated that patients use medical travel facilitators for travelling and booking procedures for out of country health care options . Thus, this paper advances the idea that medical travel facilitators have direct influence on medical tourist and medical tourism industry.

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7.Acknowledgement:- The authors would like to thank the Malaysian Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Malaysian Health Tourism Council (MHTC) for supporting this research.

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