War, impending war and other social turmoil may make you think twice about Israel as a health travel destination, but that second thought might be worth the effort—and the money. Although many patients-particularly Westerners--feel uneasy about the political turmoil of the Middle East, Israel has much to offer health travelers. Israel’s government is now actively promoting medical tourism throughout the region and to its allies in the United States, and for good reason. Standards are high, doctors are plentiful and well trained, and the medical technology employed in top hospitals is state-of-the-art.
Israel’s more than 60 general and acute-care hospitals, seven of which are JCI-Accredited, comprise approximately 15,000 beds. Another 14,000 beds are available for chronic-care patients (including geriatric patients) and some 7,000 for psychiatric patients. Nearly half of those beds are in government-operated facilities. Almost 20 percent are in hospitals run by nonprofit and religious organizations. In 2010, more than 25,000 doctors were practicing in Israel—3.3 for every 1,000 Israeli citizens, one of the world’s highest doctor-patient ratios.
Israel has five medical schools, each affiliated with a major university: the Hebrew University Medical School associated with the Hadassah Medical Organization, the Tel Aviv University Medical School, the Technion Medical School in Haifa, the Ben-Gurion University Medical School in Be’er Sheva and the Medical school of the Bar-Ilan University in Safed. Israel also has two schools of dentistry, one of pharmacology, and 20 nursing schools. Courses for physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nutritionists, x-ray technicians, and laboratory technicians are offered at several institutions.
The top Israeli hospitals are equipped with the same state-of-the-art medical instruments routinely used in diagnosis in the US and Europe. Israel is also known for the design and manufacture of medical equipment; Israel’s computer-assisted tomography (CAT) scanners and advanced microcomputer-supported devices are exported widely. The country has pioneered the development and use of laser surgical instruments, computerized monitoring systems, and other life-saving and pain-relieving devices.
Israel and Medical Tourism
In 2010, Israel welcomed some 30,000 medical travelers, most of Jewish descent from Russia, Eastern Europe and North America. Palestinians and other nationalities from countries with limited access to good healthcare also visit nearby Israel for care.
Health and wellness tourism is also on the rise, with tens of thousands seeking the healing waters of the Dead Sea as part of their leisure visits or pilgrimages. Those planning health travel should not overlook a visit to the Dead Sea’s spas and medical centers, where oxygen-enriched air and mineral-rich salt and mud treatments are believed to treat a variety of disorders from psoriasis to arthritis pain.
Israel's Fertility Specialties Attract International Patients
No overview of healthcare in Israel would be complete without mention of Israel’s in vitro fertilization (IVF) centers, which rank among the world’s finest. The IVF unit at Chaim Sheba is the largest in the country. IVF Haifa and Rabin are well known for their excellence. Prices for fertility services can total a fraction of those found in North America. At one clinic in Israel, for example, the price of a standard IVF cycle is about $4,000, excluding medication, whereas couples expect to pay $13,000 to $25,000 or more in the US.
For sightseers and history buffs, Israel offers an abundance of both. Jerusalem and its environs abound with religious and historical sites venerated by three of the world’s major religions. In Israel’s bustling markets, shoppers will find antiques, rugs, jewelry, and more. Israel has more than 60 national parks and 230 nature reserves, many of which are also historic sites.
Last updated on 9 December 2012