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New perspectives in dealing with medical tourism facilitators

Books lying on top of each other next to an open notebook with a pen on it

[This article was first posted in German thus certain differenciations might not make sense in English. This is also the reason for why some of the language seems off.

The terms patient service provider, medical tourism facilitator and patient broker are still used interchangeably. By using the term facilitation, any immorality associated with this practice according to the Kiel judgment is not intended to be relativized, but merely based on the usage of the term for the sake of comprehensibility.]

With the increasing focus on medical tourism and the essential role of facilitators in the process of international patient acquisition, a rethinking of their classification is essential. The goal must be to make the services of these intermediaries more transparent, efficient and legally secure in order to meet the needs of all those involved.

1. Introduction of transparent and fair compensation models

The creation of clearly defined, transparent and, above all, fair remuneration models represents a cornerstone for improving cooperation between clinics and medical tourism facilitators, but primarily also between facilitators and patients. Harmonized remuneration schemes that reflect both the quality and the quantity of treatment cases managed, could form the basis for a trusting and long-term partnership. This would not only ensure cost-effectiveness, but also strengthen patients' trust in the entire medical tourism process.

2. Quality Assurance (QA) in medical tourism facilitation

Another approach is to implement a Quality Assurance (QA) system. By establishing uniform standards and regular audits, the quality of the service could be ensured and continuously improved. These measures would not only put the professionalism and seriousness of the agencies to the test, but also minimize the risk of abuse and corruption. In the absence of a public institution that fulfills this task, it remains duty and, depending on the point of view, a moral obligation of the clinics to carry out such tests themselves.

3. Strengthening the digital infrastructure

Digitalization offers immense potential for optimizing medical tourism. Stronger networking and the use of specialized software solutions could make the processes significantly more efficient. Digital platforms that enable direct communication between patients, agents and clinics would create transparency and reduce administrative effort. In addition, digital documentation and tracking of treatment pathways could lead to higher quality of treatment and patient satisfaction. In Germany, but also elsewhere, medical tourism is still predominantly carried out in an analogue manner. The sector's resistance to digitalization is antithetical and can actually only be understood as an end in itself of business preservation and as a measure to avoid transparency. This clear grievance should be resolutely counteracted.

4. Promoting intercultural competence

Given the cultural diversity of patients, intercultural competence is extremely important. Although many foreign patients of younger generations speak English fluently, this point should not be ignored. Training programs for clinicians and patient advocates could raise awareness of cultural differences and improve communication and interactions with international patients. This would not only optimize patient care, but also help avoid misunderstandings and conflicts.


The challenges in dealing with patient brokers and patient referral in a broader sense are diverse, but also offer the opportunity to raise medical tourism in Germany to a new level and revive it. The combination of transparent compensation models, quality assurance, digital infrastructure and intercultural competence can create a win-win situation for everyone involved. The future of medical tourism in Germany depends largely on the ability to adapt to these new requirements and implement innovative solutions.

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