The long-term effects of terrorism on medical and dental tourism are difficult to predict, just as the short-term consequences have been and remain hard to measure. The fear and behavioral changes brought about by the unknown have always been somewhat of a quagmire, and throwing the mentally ill, bombs, guns, zealots and terrorists into the mix complicates matters even more.
While leaders struggle with how to best manage the economies they oversee, they must also manage a myriad of risks, both domestic and international. And these risks come in a variety of flavors given the world’s current economic struggles and geopolitical turbulence. No doubt, while issues such as the rising cost of healthcare and global warming loom in our minds, nothing is more prescient and pressing than navigating the tricky and turbulent waters of terrorism.
The images we have seen online and on television over the past few years are horrifying, and to a degree affect everyone’s sense of comfort and security. As if that were not unsettling enough, most would agree this is just a prelude of horrors to come before things get better as solutions to complex issues are usually not found easily or quickly. Hopefully, the terrorism we face today will be short-lived.
Regardless of what happens, medical and dental tourism professionals will continue to work in a complex environment balancing patient and provider’s needs, expectations and resources, along with government rules and regulations, and more ominous external forces. Unfortunately, lack of internal mechanisms and processes within clinics and collaboration between those in the business makes the collection, analysis, and reporting of statistical data extremely difficult.
As a result, new industries often remain a mystery to most. They take root and bloom far outside the mainstream where most public attention resides. Arguably, the people who best understand medical and dental tourism as functional concepts are dental tourists, the few Patient Coordinators who counsel and attend to them, and the clinical practitioners themselves. But since the last noted usually are not business administrators, the “experts” in the field remain a small handful of authors, academicians, advocates and hobbyists.
How do the pieces fit together in this story? Well, when terrorism arrived in the United States in 2001 our lives changed. Our world changed. And now that terrorists have taken their craft to a whole new level of barbarism it is reasonable to surmise that we will continue to change as a people, societies, and as consumers. So, it is the future of consumerism that is in question and what must be examined.
Medical and dental tourism entails meeting market demand for services, and it is consumers and the providers of these services who stand to change or be affected most quickly and dramatically, if only in the short-term. Simply put, metrics are more easily captured for consumer behavior than societal behavior, even though the whole ball of wax needs to be considered. Therefore, the overall effects of terrorism on individuals, their buying behavior, and on their societies will likely require a greater period time to examine and more fully understand.
Basic consumer behavior can be understood most simply when considered in local terms. And local consumption does not entail too much risk. At most, we have to walk and/or drive safe, avoid those who do not, and pray that the occasional “Act of G*d”, “cause of mother-nature” or “stray meteor” does not strike us down; or that we do not come up and against a faulty or poorly programmed or misguided delivery drone. All this, of course, assumes that which you are buying is legal, and safe to buy and use.
Healthcare needs to be considered a bit differently. It’s expensive. In some cases, it costs as much as a car. In other cases as much as a house. For that reason alone, we need alternatives. Amazon or Google likely won’t be the answer to our medical and dental needs, nor will drones delivering our services, at least for several more years. We need to meet with Doctors and Dentists occasionally to have tests taken, procedures performed and treatments administered where clinical infrastructure is in place.
In the end, wherever we are examined, when a Doctor or Dentist presents an estimate that is a five-figure solution to YOUR “problem”, you may have no choice but to consider alternatives like traveling for healthcare. And if you decide to go that route, your risks will multiply exponentially.
Medical and dental tourists usually travel very far away from home, for at least one week and possibly longer. And this presents a much larger basket of risks. Forget the inconveniences and frustration caused by the TSA and their counterparts at foreign airports; consider the laws of Murphy, those of numbers, gravity, and unintended consequences to name just a few. Yes, the risks we face when we travel to another country are MUCH greater.
You can trip, fall, be robbed, miss your flight, or even worse end up a statistic of a plane crash. You can be conned, scammed, abused by a taxi driver, end up in a raunchy hotel and suffer all sorts of other embarrassments and setbacks (if only due to your inability to speak a foreign language). And yes, your procedure(s) and treatment(s) may not go as you plan. Yes, there are plenty of risks in this field even before one considers terrorism. Fortunately, most of these risks can be mitigated or managed, and in the end, most medical and dental tourists fare well on most fronts.
So, don’t be put off, and try not to be afraid. Above all, don’t crawl under your pillow and hide. It is always best to face life head on. THINK and be BOLD. You are a sentient human being and have the power to control MOST things in your life, including those things that may harm you. STAY ALERT. BE AWARE. Do not see yourself as a victim, but as one of many who can prevent us all from becoming victims.
Fortunately, most of us will never encounter terrorism face to face. It will affect us all, but likely will not physically harm the vast majority of us or even someone we know. The chances of you living a happy life are good; especially if you reside in North America or Costa Rica. So, what will be the effects of Terrorism on Medical and Dental Tourism? I predict it will have an impact, but just a mild one.
With G*d’s good grace, self-awareness, minor preparation and the application of common sense, it is likely the Medical and Dental Tourism industries will continue to grow and evolve as they have in the past; and as we will continue to do as people, societies, and civilizations.