Patients in the GCC and other Middle Eastern markets are increasingly traveling abroad seeking medical care in a wide range of procedure specialties including in bariatric surgery, oncology, cardiology and organ transplants. The GCC region is facing new challenges as more of its population begins to suffer from non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses. The GCC region has sharply higher level of prevalence of obesity than the global average. As a result, International Diabetes Federation has identified the GCC countries among the top countries having high incidence of diabetes.
A growing aging population is another serious concern. According to a recent report by Alpine Capital, GCC population in the age group of 65 and above is expected to surge from 1.2 million in 2015 to 14.2 million in 2050, driving demand for healthcare services.
As more and more patients turn to medical tourism to satisfy their healthcare needs, it is important that hospitals and clinics put in the services and standards necessary to provide an outstanding international patient experience. Culture and language barriers must be addressed as well as the travel and hospitality needs of international patients. There is also a need to focus on creating a sustainable global brand and leverage new domestic, regional and international business relationships to increase international patient volume.