Medical Care in Thailand: Motivating Factors for Australians

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Juj, Genevieve (2022) Medical Care in Thailand: Motivating Factors for Australians. Other Degree thesis, Victoria University.


Australians travelling to Thailand for medical, surgical, and dental surgery are not unique. Medical tourism has become a global phenomenon, with citizens from the United Kingdom (UK), the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (USA) travelling to other countries for medical procedures or health care. Moreover, in some cases, private health insurers and organisations such as the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) outsource health care to other countries. Medical tourism has been defined as “Cross border health care motivated by lower cost, avoidance of waitlists and services not available in one’s country” (Lunt, 2015). The primary aim of this study was to investigate and understand the factors that motivate Australians to seek medical, surgical, and dental procedures in Thailand. The secondary aim was to understand why Australians travel to other countries, specifically Thailand, for care. This research used a multi-method, exploratory, sequential design which was undertaken in two phases: 1. Phase 1: Analysis of online blogs, hospital reviews and radio interviews 2. Phase 2: Online survey For Phase 1 of the research, 27 independent narratives, 19 blogs, four hospital reviews and three radio interviews were selected and analysed. Most blogs and reviews were posted by medical travellers who sought cosmetic and dental procedures, while seven travelled for orthopaedic, optical, or other procedures. Via the Internet, Australian medical travellers have provided detailed narratives of their personal medical tourism experiences, offering advice, recommendations, or warnings to others. Overall, 80 per cent of medical travellers were very positive about their experiences; the remainder were negative. Eighty-three respondents completed the survey for Phase 2 of this study. Responses indicated that the most common procedures were cosmetic and dental. Several conclusions were drawn from this phase of the research: Australian medical travellers are an empowered group of individuals; medical travellers take up to 12 months to decide to travel; medical travellers do significant research to understand surgical or dental procedures better, and they make contact with their Thai doctor or dentist before travelling, and Australian travellers are resourceful and navigate a range of barriers to facilitate medical travel. The pandemic was a major disrupter to businesses worldwide, including medical tourism, with international travel resuming after a three-year hiatus. Before the pandemic, approximately 15,000 Australians engaged in self-funded medical tourism annually. As a consequence, the demand for surgery continues to place a strain on the health system. Although accessibility and cost are initial considerations, these are traded off by other factors, such as the preferred surgeon or dentist. These considerations have three important motivators: ready access to services; health care tailored to the individual’s needs; and pre-established relationships with Thai surgeons and dentists for ongoing care, which in some cases include other family members. Finally, most Australian medical travellers report high levels of satisfaction with their medical tourism experiences, often describing the experience as high-quality personalised care. Medical tourism presents business opportunities for entities such as insurance firms and support care enterprises in Australia and Thailand.

Additional Information

Doctor of Business Administration

Item type Thesis (Other Degree thesis)
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3508 Tourism
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4203 Health services and systems
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Keywords medical care; surgery; dental surgery; Thailand; Australians; medical tourism; health system; Australia
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