Down among the lights of the Strip and the clamor of the casinos, the first thing that comes to mind is most certainly not healthcare. In a city that tends towards opulence and extravagance over prevention, the move towards a medicalized economy may be puzzling. It’s one, however, that many city leaders are promoting, with Mayor Carolyn Goodman leading the charge.

Pushing medical tourism, the practice of traveling to other states or countries to receive healthcare, may actually be a good idea though. The medical tourism industry is increasing over 30% annually, with many people taking their healthcare and treatments to places where they can also vacation and relax. With cheap lodging and flight options, Las Vegas may turn out to be a mecca for those travelers.

Besides lodging and entertainment, there is also the concentration of spas on the Strip which are able to see up to 1,000 patients every hour. 

Healthcare professionals in the Valley are taking note, with first-class cancer, fertility, and spinal centers opening their doors and rolling out the red carpet for travelers. One cosmetic surgeon helps arrange transportation and hotels for their arriving patients, with many more healthcare professionals likely to follow suit.

Others suggest that Las Vegas could also become a preventative health center, with the large amount of business travelers drawn to Vegas every year for the 22,000 conventions it hosts. The International CES tech conference alone brings in over 150,000 people. During those scheduled trips, individuals could receive annual check-ups to coincide with a conference.

In November 2013, Las Vegas hosted the 6th annual World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress with over 2,000 attendees. 

Hosting the Medical Tourism Association’s annual conference was a huge event for the city, as it helped solidify its position as a medical tourism destination. In addition to the conference, the Medical Tourism Association has also started better publicizing Las Vegas’ medical tourism options with a 176 page Health and Wellness Destination Guide for prospective travelers. Local organizations are also teaming up to brainstorm better ideas for serving new patients, including the Las Vegas Spa Association and Las Vegas HEALS, a nonprofit organization for local healthcare professionals.

Las Vegas medical tourism, an idea promoted by Mayor Goodman and embraced by city professionals, may help the city reinvent and diversify its economy and bring world-class healthcare to Valley residents.

What are your thoughts on turning Las Vegas into a medical tourism center? 

Image by Pedro Szekely via Flickr

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