Why has Boston become a Mecca for Medical Tourism?
With Coronavirus running rampant, international travel has become a tricky proposition. Domestic travel is a lesser risk, and Boston remains a top destination for medical care. New Englanders have long traveled to Boston for care; the trust placed in Boston’s world-class practitioners is long-standing. We all know that cutting-edge technology is close enough for easy access, and few of us would choose New York or Philadelphia for care when we can stay close to home. But Boston also attracts inbound travelers from around the country and the world who seek some of the best medical care in the world.
The early twentieth century brought us innovations in international travel and communication. The United States experienced an influx of patients who looked outside their borders for medical attention for various reasons. Then, as now, there may be no available treatment or qualified practitioners in one’s home country. There may be a lack of adequate or accessible facilities or supplies, or they may believe that the care they receive in the US is superior to that which they can access at home. People whose countries have experienced war, violence, oppressive regimes, or other destruction of infrastructure and resources may have few options in-country, making international travel a necessity.
Why is Boston an attractive destination for medical tourism?
Massachusetts is recognized worldwide for its preeminent position in the field of medicine. Within the city proper, one area is densely populated by the medical community: “Longwood hospitals see 2.6 million patient visits a year. That’s about a third of the patient flow at Texas Medical Center, which claims to be the largest medical complex in the world. But Longwood draws more than twice as much National Institutes of Health money as its southern counterpart.”
According to Stat News, “People trek to Boston’s medical mecca from around the world for cancer treatments, clinical trials for rare diseases, and cutting-edge procedures, such as face transplants or surgery inside a mother’s womb to repair a fetal heart.”
People from around the globe come to Boston for medical care because:
- It’s the home of top US hospitals and medical schools.
- Massachusetts is in the top 5 US states for low rates of child, infant, and neonatal mortality rates.
- Boston is the home of medical innovations including the first use of anesthesia during surgery in 1846; the discovery of the smallpox vaccine; innovative treatments for cancer and burn care, and other groundbreaking research bankrolled by the National Institutes of Health.
- Boston is a major hub for biotech companies:
“The city's Kendall Square neighborhood alone hosts over 120 biotech companies within a mile radius, and other cities across the country are working to keep up with Boston's lightspeed biotech growth.”
As an example, Chinese medical tourists appreciate all that Boston has to offer. Medical procedures here are performed by highly qualified practitioners, many of whom are leaders in their fields. Some of these travelers simply don’t trust the quality of care in their home country. Boston’s top-rated facilities are clean and often connected to world-renowned research universities: Tufts, Beth Israel Deaconess, and Mass General are only a few. With the nation’s third-largest Chinatown, Boston can offer cultural comforts not found elsewhere.
Some of America’s Top Hospitals
Joslin Diabetes Center is the world’s leader in diabetic care and research. Recognizing the higher risk diabetes presents to Black and Brown people, Joslin is committed to equity and access for all people who live with the disease. The Asian American Diabetes Initiative and the Latinx Diabetes Initiative aim to provide comprehensive care that is respectful to the patients’ cultural practices and languages. Since its inception, Joslin has provided care for people with diabetes who are pregnant or have multi-systemic involvement, as well as children. The center pioneered laser surgery for diabetic eye disease and continues ongoing research efforts with clinical trials.
The top-ranked Boston Children’s Hospital is affiliated with Harvard Medical School and is the home of Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. The hospital features an American Academy of Pediatrics verified level IV neonatal intensive care unit and houses one of Boston’s three ACS-certified Level I pediatric trauma centers. Groundbreaking research and treatments developed at Boston Children’s include the use of hydroxyurea, a cancer drug, to treat Sickle Cell Disease and successful correction of birth defects, such as congenital heart disease in children of all ages. BCH’s world-famous scientists and physicians are experts in diverse areas of study: virology, vaccinology, cancer, transplantation, and genetic diseases. Boston Children’s serves a select adult population through award-winning research and development and treatment programs: Alzheimer’s disease, congenital heart disease, strabismus, and the Maternal-Fetal Care Center in collaboration with Brigham & Women's Hospital.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital is internationally renowned for treating patients with complex conditions. U.S. News & World Report ranks BWH as a top hospital and among the best in specialty areas like cancer, cardiology, and heart surgery. Patients from 120 countries come to Boston each year through the Brigham’s International Patient Center’s concierge service. The Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center provides specialized care, much of it developed at this cutting-edge research facility.
For three years running, US News and World Report has recognized Spaulding Rehab Hospital as one of the nation’s top three ranked hospitals. A 2020 press release stated, “To again achieve a #2 ranking reflects that Spaulding is one of leading centers of healing and research in the world,” said David E. Storto, President, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.”
Since 1995, Spaulding is the only New England hospital that has continuously ranked as one of the nation’s best. As an official teaching partner of Harvard Medical School Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), Spaulding has a large network of facilities throughout the Greater Boston area.
Supported in part by the Jimmy Fund, and the official charity of the Boston Red Sox since the 1950s, The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is the number three cancer hospital in the world, and the leader in the fields of aplastic anemia and multiple myeloma. “Dana-Farber Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center the #2 pediatric cancer program in the country.”
If you are coming to Boston for medical treatment, booking a room at our waterfront hotel on Boston Harbor will put you in a convenient location, proximate to most of the aforementioned medical facilities and clinics.