It always takes a few months to evaluate the trends and numbers form the previous year, and in medical tourism, the results for 2013 have just recently been analyzed by the best market analysts. Many trends are incredibly apparent, and many things are changing, but many things are staying the same. Dental tourism is still the number one subset of medical tourism, and is the most prevalent reasons for people to travel abroad. The breaking down into regions for medical tourism is also continuing, with people preferring to travel somewhere that is close to them, and Hungary is still the number one destination for dental tourism.
So much for things that stayed the same and were predictable. Many changes have happened though in 2013, and they all seem to confirm that dental tourism is going the way of any other business; becoming more legitimate. As more and more information goes around reaching patients from the internet and at dental check ups and in clinics, the charlatans, cheaters and subpar dentists are losing ground, as the news of good, reliable and accountable dental clinics and agencies reaches the ears of more and more people. Here some of the areas in which 2013 has brought changes to the industry:
Typically, the first wave of patients were wealthy types who travel a lot and see the world. This is changing. Ever since the NHS has done such a bad job and has had such long queues, and the private dental market has become so ridiculously overpriced, it has been more and more middle class and lower middle class professionals who are looking for a cheaper solution. This is just another sign that the message is reaching more people, and more and more folks are becoming aware of their options.
2) Multiple treatments
At first, only serious problems that could be done immediately got abroad, like extractions, dentures, dental implants and the likes. 2012 already saw simpler treatments, like multiple fillings and whitening sessions also becoming more popular, whereas 2013 saw multiple treatments like root canals and all of the dental implant process (not just implantation but the man follow up treatments that need to happen) being exported abroad as well.
Patients are demanding that dental tourism companies, agencies and clinics that deal with tourism become more and more transparent, with more and more information being available online before the patient agrees to an appointment. This is understandable, and is also a sign of the industry becoming more popular.
The most obvious prediction is that, as the industry grows bigger, more and more legitimate business are going to want in on this. How big the industry can get, and how big the bubble can get is still up in the air and depends primarily on how many patients there really are (i.e. how many patients who can afford to travel know of and are willing to use dental tourism), but a plateau will be reached, and very possibly this year.