Globalization of Healthcare: Development & Impact

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  • 0:00 Globalization
  • 0:34 Globalization of Healthcare
  • 2:16 Healthcare…
  • 4:07 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
What does globalization of healthcare mean to you? This lesson goes over some of this topic's facets, including what it could mean for your bottom line.


For the better part of the last couple of decades, the term globalization has been thrown around left and right with respect to a ton of issues. Analysis of globalization's impact on the world's economies, businesses, and culture are ubiquitous. But you don't really hear about the globalization of healthcare all that much, do you? In fact, what in the world (no pun intended) does that term even mean?

Well, why don't we take a closer look? Let's go over what globalization of healthcare refers to as well as its impact on the world.

Globalization of Healthcare

When someone talks about the globalization of healthcare, they're referring to more than one thing. One particular aspect of this is known as international surgical travel, or more commonly as medical tourism.

Medical tourism, at its core, is simply the exportation of patients to countries outside of their resident nation. This could be a company sending a worker overseas for treatment, or it could be a person deciding to go and travel to another country for treatment on their own.

While you might think that all of this is a cost-saving measure, and it often is, medical tourism doesn't have to be cost-related. For example, some people travel to the U.S. for advanced medical care not available in their home countries, even if it is expensive. However, other people do travel abroad for cheaper care that they consider to be of equivalent quality.

Another very interesting facet of the globalization of healthcare has nothing to do with exporting patients. Instead, it has to do with importing medical services. Or, put another way, outsourcing medically-related tasks outside of one's own area of service. One great example of this is telemedicine. This is where a physician from many states or even countries away can be consulted. Another good example is when a hospital outsources tasks, such as x-ray interpretation, to another nation where radiologists charge less for their services.

This final example of the globalization of healthcare goes beyond dollars and cents. Lots of charity organizations globalize healthcare. Take, for example, Doctors Without Borders. Physicians from advanced nations take time off, not to JetSki in Hawaii, but to go to places in need to provide medical care and education to people who would otherwise lack access.

Healthcare Globalization Impact

So what are the impacts of this growing trend?

The obvious question to ask regarding the globalization of healthcare is how does this affect the economics of healthcare? For this lesson, we'll focus on analyzing this from the perspective of the U.S.

Well, in the U.S., part of the reason why healthcare costs are so astronomically high is because of malpractice lawsuits. Doctors have malpractice insurance to protect themselves, and about 60% of the premiums they pay goes towards legal fees. Of course, the costs are passed on to consumers (i.e., the patients). Outside the U.S., malpractice insurance is far cheaper due to numerous factors, including fewer legal cases. This means the costs of healthcare are cheaper without, necessarily, the quality of healthcare being any worse.

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