Continuing to invest in health tourism is likely to pay long-term dividends for the Cayman Islands despite recent setbacks, according to Cayman’s main medical-tourism facility.
Shomari Scott, former director of tourism for Cayman and current chief business officer for Health City, Cayman Islands, said the pandemic had thrown a ‘huge spoke in the wheel’ for the industry.
But he is confident that the long-term future is bright.
“In the immediate term, these medical-tourism challenges are vast,” he said. “However, they can quickly swing towards opportunity in the future.”
For example, he said, the hospital had been targeting Canada as a potential growth area for patients pre-COVID because of the long wait times in that country for elective surgery. He said Health City was a viable alternative option for orthopaedic surgery for Canadians.
“The wait time challenge (in Canada) has exponentially grown through the pandemic, and currently the backlog of surgeries is as high as 180,000. This will, once we are past this pandemic, become cause for a wave of opportunity.”
Another area where the pandemic has given medical tourism, and the medical profession in general, a jolt in the right direction is in the adoption of technology.
“COVID-19 has jump-started patients and individuals in general with regard to comfort with technology,” said Scott.
He believes greater patient comfort, with telemedicine and tech consults, will enable consultation ‘across seas’, allowing for Health City to better monitor its patients beyond the walls of the hospital and maintain bonds with, and loyalty from, its clients.
“Medical technology will be the next frontier to flourish,” he said. “We as a company envisaged this path years ago and invested in research and development, so we are well-positioned for the post-COVID medical-technology revolution, which has now been fast-tracked like a horse released early from its stables and is careening very quickly to what may be a new norm.”
- This story is part of a feature series this week looking at possible new niches for the tourism industry.