EDITORIAL – Health tourism: Just what the doctor ordered

An architect's drawing shows how the dome-shaped bungalows would look.

Two news items last week showcase our islands’ flourishing health tourism landscape.

In the first, it was announced that developers Kim and Ashleigh Lund are moving forward with a new 8-acre ‘healing resort’ that will cater to health tourists looking to rest and recharge through yoga and meditation, healthy eating and integrative healing services such as naturopathy and natural medicine.

The Lunds hope to break ground on the project this year and open to visitors by the end of 2020, with the aim of providing “a beautiful, organic and natural location where people can go to achieve balance and generate long-term healing and wellness”, as Ashleigh Lund told the Compass.

In another article, we learned that bodybuilder and actor Lou Ferrigno – aka The Incredible Hulk – visited Cayman for the first time last week to receive a unique type of stem cell infusion he hopes will allow him to continue rigorous training well into his golden years. He joins an elite cadre who avail themselves of cutting-edge stem cell treatments available on island, whether to heal from injury, like Cayman Olympic runner Cydonie Mothersille, or who, like Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, want to bank their own young, healthy stem cells for possible future use.

Other clinics offer personalised immunotherapies and other unique treatments that attract a global pool of patients. Together with our flagship medical tourism facility, Health City, these providers are building a synergistic network that will benefit resident and visitors, alike.

As consultant David Jessop observed in a column published in these pages earlier this month, the Cayman Islands is uniquely well-suited to the highly lucrative and rapidly growing niche market of health and medical tourism – a global market he says is expected to reach somewhere between US$46.6 billion and US$125 billion per year by 2021.

Jessop, a consultant to the Caribbean Council, counted among Cayman’s assets our robust air transportation networks, relatively wealthy population, state-of-the-art technology, and U.K. regulatory framework. He wrote that Health City, specifically, benefits from its association with the internationally renowned Dr. Devi Shetty and the profitable Narayana Health global medical group. We would add that in its few short years of operation, the East End facility has earned high praise on its own merits as a world-renowned facility that delivers first-rate, affordable care.

As medical costs continue to increase in the United States, home to the vast majority of our visitors, we can expect more U.S. citizens will turn to medical tourism for high-quality, cost-effective treatments. As word continues to spread about Cayman’s excellent healthcare and wellness network, we expect many more health and wellness visitors will find their way here – bringing significant financial and reputational benefits. Stayover tourists will rise dramatically and will include family members and friends travelling with prospective patients. Supporting industries in the medical field will flourish; additional specialised clinics will take root and grow.

In his column, Jessop suggested there is significant demand for small private clinics providing limited services, such as joint replacement, cosmetic surgery, in vitro fertilisation and other specialised fields. Similarly, he predicts a high demand for skilled nursing and convalescence facilities, not to mention wellness services.

In short, there is ample room to grow this lucrative segment of the market.

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