Trailing nearly every other industry, health care is finally globalizing. Highly trained and experienced expatriate health care professionals are returning to their home countries from training in the West or are staying home to work in newly developed corporate health care delivery systems that can compete quite favorably with less-than-perfect providers in Europe and North America. In turn, these health care systems are attracting patients from around the world who are interested in exploring high-quality, lower-cost health care alternatives. Much of this activity is occurring in the emerging economies of the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, and beyond. Three Harvard Medical International collaborations—in Dubai, Turkey, and India—highlight these trends and demonstrate the potential for new models of global health care, as well as potential ramifications for patients and providers in the established economies of the West, including the United States. Although globalization is not a cure-all solution to achieving universal access to health care, it is not only a significant first step for patients in these emerging economies, but may also present alternative solutions for those patients in wealthier nations who nonetheless lack adequate health care coverage. The increase in health care quality and competitiveness around the globe is important, but these improvements will need to be matched by the development of comprehensive payer solutions, to benefit as many people as possible.
Dr. Crone is managing director, Academic Medical Center Practice, Huron Consulting Group, Inc., and clinical professor of anaesthesiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. He served as president and chief executive officer, Harvard Medical International, from its founding in 1994 to November 2007.
Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Crone, Managing Director, Academic Medical Center Practice, Huron Consulting Group, Inc., 470 Atlantic Avenue, 14th Floor, Boston MA 02210.