The article, “Cross border reproductive care in six European countries” provides a review of inbound infertility tourism to six European countries receiving patients - Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland. Data was collected from 46 centres in these countries. Patients came from 49 different countries, but almost two thirds came form only four countries - Italy (31.8%), Germany (14.4%), The Netherlands (12.1%) and France (8.7%).
Drivers of infertility tourism
Why are these infertile couples crossing borders for infertility treatment? It varies from country to country but the main driver is the law on infertility treatments within the home country. This is the predominant reason for patients coming from Italy, France, Germany, Norway and Sweden. Italian law banned sperm donation in 2004; German law bans egg donation; in France, assisted conception for single women or same sex couples is illegal and there is a ban on advertising for egg donors; regulation regarding donor anonymity affect Scandinavians and British patients; some countries have regulations that limit reimbursement of assisted conception to a maximum age.; some countries have legal limits on the amount that can be paid to donors thus reducing availability of sperm and eggs.
Difficulties in accessing treatment at home were a driver for a third of UK patients, and a wish for “anonymous” donation was expressed by around one in five patients.
There’s also some indication of specific cross border flows: Italians favour Switzerland and Spain, the Germans prefer Czech Republic, the Dutch and French opt for Belgium.
18.3% of patients were looking for semen donation, 22.8% for egg donation and 3.4% for embryo donation.
Market opportunity for medical tourism businesses?
The study estimated that “a minimum estimated number of 11 000–14 000 patients per year” visits the six countries in the study; it may well be much higher than this.
If you’re in the medical tourism business, download the paper; it’s a useful insight into the opportunities in infertility tourism and to the kind of patients that seek it..... which should be a major influence on your marketing. Understanding your market is key to the success of any medical tourism business. For example, the internet was a frequent source of information about infertility treatment abroad in Sweden (73.6%), Germany (65.0%) and the UK (58.5%).
So, it’s good news for my healthcare web publishing business that a Google UK search for “infertility treatment abroad” brings up Treatment Abroad at number 1 and our other sites in positions 2, 3, 4, 6 and 10 in the top ten Google UK results!