Costa Rica Hasn’t yet Reached Full Potential as a Medical Tourism Destination

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Medical tourism in Costa Rica presents a constant growth since 2012, many health care professionals and health care centers know the potential this market represents and have made efforts to appeal to this growing clientele.

In 2015 the country received almost 25 thousand more patients than in 2012, going from close to 45 thousand in 2012 to almost 70 thousand in 2015 according to data provided by the Costa Rica Central Bank (BCCR).

BCCR data also show that by the end of 2016 the country received close to USD $485 million in health related traveling, which represents USD $157 million more than the amount reported in 2013.

Yet, and despite the positive numbers, health professionals consider that Costa Rica is far from reaching its full potential when it comes to medical tourism.

According to Massimo Manzi, director of the Costa Rica Health Chamber, the country is lacking government support that promotes medical tourism. Countries such as Mexico and Colombia are strong competitors that have been working on their political stability and security to be more competitive in this market.

The Costa Rica Foreign Commerce Ministry and the Foreign Trade Promotion Agency (PROCOMER) are two of the entities that are working on a strategy to promote medical tourism through participation in fairs, reinforcing studies and creating new connections with foreign health institutions.

The Health Chamber hopes to make this a country goal.

The two main markets of interest for Costa Rica are the United States and Canada; the US because of the large number of visitors the country receives every year, and Canada is the fastest growing market in the last few years. Central America and the Caribbean as well as Europe are markets of great interest.

In the meantime, private hospitals are taking measures to attract some of these visitors, by obtaining certifications and creating high complexity specialized services, renovating their services and opening new locations are also part of this strategy.

Alejandro Ayón from CIMA Hospital confirmed that 35% of the patients that CIMA takes are foreigners. “The most sought treatments are in cardiovascular medicine, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, ear-nose-throat specialists, and gynecologists” .

Dental treatments are also one of the main services that foreigners look for in our country; many dental clinics have focused their efforts in attracting clients in foreign countries and some report as much as 98% of their clients coming from different countries.

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