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Anthropol Med. 2013 Apr;20(1):24-35. doi: 10.1080/13648470.2012.747592. Epub 2013 Mar 21.

Medical travel facilitators: connecting patients and providers in a globalized world.

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  • 1Anthropology and Sociology, Rockford College, USA. MDalstrom@Rockford.edu

Abstract

International medical travel is a rapidly developing phenomenon that promises patients cheap and affordable medical care abroad. However, the logistics of making travel arrangements, selecting a medical provider, and evaluating quality can be a daunting task for even the most experienced traveler. At the nexus, connecting patients and providers are medical travel facilitators (MTFs), who are individuals and companies that market foreign medical care to patients. While the services that MTFs offer vary, they primarily focus on making foreign medical care more accessible to patients through commodifying the medical experience and providing logistical support. Although they are an important part of international medical travel they are often overlooked, especially along the US/Mexico border. This paper contributes to the discussion on medical travel by focusing on MTFs and the methods they employ through (1) discussing the characteristics and logistical challenges of medical travel; (2) identifying the different types of medical travel facilitators; and (3) addressing how MTFs remake patients into consumers. Findings suggest that while MTFs operate on a variety of different scales, and market their services differently, they all emphasize the consumer experience through advertising quality assurances and logistical support.

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