According to the president of the Dominican Association of Health Tourism (ADTS), Alejandro Cambiaso, more than 13 billion pesos are billed annually for health tourism in the Dominican Republic.
“There are 117,000 international patients seen in the country, of which 47,725 are for medical tourism; around 69,000 for medical tourism,” he reported.
He explained that health tourism has a “very important” transversal effect because it generates well-paid jobs, attracts Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and local investment, but also foreign exchange and the transfer of technology and knowledge, and strengthens medicine for all Dominicans and tourists who come to the country.
In addition, he revealed that investments are being made in the Dominican Republic in the health tourism sector of around US$500 million.
“Important new hospital investments are being made, with hotels including, as is the case of Homs in Santiago; new project between Santiago and La Vega; new projects in Santo Domingo; new ambulatory projects, with investments hovering around US$500 million, which is great news,” he said.
“In the United States there are more than 40 million people who do not have health insurance, more than 120 million people who do not have dental insurance, and the costs of treatments are very high and can be provided in the Dominican Republic with quality and at more attractive costs.”
Most demanded services in health tourism
The president of the Dominican Association of Health Tourism informed that the most sought after procedures by tourists in the Dominican Republic are dentistry, especially those related to dental implants. Also, cosmetic dentistry and other dental services.
“In second place is plastic surgery. In third place (are) also other surgical procedures ranging from orthopedics, the cardiovascular part, fertility,” Cambiaso detailed. “We are starting to strengthen the niche of ophthalmology, among others.
He detailed that, when looking for health services, they are now seeing a greater number of patients, especially from absent Dominicans who come from New York, but also from the Caribbean islands, especially Turks and Caicos, St. Martin and other destinations, and also, North Americans and Canadians, but for different reasons.
“In the United States there are more than 40 million people who do not have health insurance, more than 120 million people who do not have dental insurance, and the costs of treatments are very high and can be provided in the Dominican Republic with quality and at more attractive costs,” he said.
He said that in Canada something different happens because there is social security and people have access, however, the waiting lists are very long for elective procedures. So, he indicated that sometimes, for orthopedic issues, they have to wait a year or even a year and a half for an elective procedure. On the other hand, they can come to the Dominican Republic to undergo this process and recover in a warm climate and visit the tourist attractions.
Destination Dominican Republic
The first destination for health tourism is Santo Domingo. Cambiaso pointed out that the city has “a great health infrastructure”. He also mentioned Santiago, because it has a “quite important” health infrastructure.
“And also,” he added, “because of the large flow of tourists, there is the area of Bávaro, Punta Cana, but you see much more tourist medicine there, that is to say, attention to tourists rather than medical tourism, which is seen more in Santo Domingo and Santiago.
He added that the personnel they have are specialized Dominicans.
“In order to talk about international standards, local standards must first be met and the health centers must be authorized by the Ministry of Public Health and also participate in international certification and accreditation processes,” Cambiaso said.
In addition, they should develop international departments that allow them to develop expertise, not only in technical and logistical terms, but also in the patient’s language, the management of international insurance, medical coding and continuity of care, among other aspects “that are of great relevance to be able to carry out this activity successfully”.
Health and wellness tourism guide
Cambiaso recalled that in June last year they launched the third edition of the Health and Wellness Tourism Guide of the country, where the main centers that provide services are listed and it is explained in plain language to tourists who want to seek health services in the Dominican Republic how they can do so.
“This is a document that comes from the Medical Tourism Association, the leading global medical tourism entity, and the Dominican Health Tourism Association, but also with the support of the Ministry of Tourism and (the Ministry) of Health of the Dominican Republic,” he said.
Learn more: Dominican Health Tourism Association
Learn more: Health in Dominican Republic
Learn more: Tourism in Dominican Republic