Would you travel 6,000 miles for a doctor? The Mayo Clinic is counting on it

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The Mayo Clinic is looking international – specifically, 6,000 miles away in China – as it tries to woo new patients.

The worldwide recognition enjoyed by the Rochester-based health group has led to a collaboration with Hong Kong-based Medisun Holdings to provide "health care consulting services," which is expected to increase the number of referrals from China to Minnesota.

The Post Bulletin reports the deal will see Medisun open a $1 million office in a new complex near Mayo Clinic to support patients who travel to Rochester for treatment, the newspaper notes, while the clinic has hired interpreters and launched a Mandarin page on its website.

Mayo has already experienced a growth in Chinese patient numbers in recent years. They treated 100 in 2012, but that is expected to have risen to 400 in 2014.

Wooing the Chinese middle-class

Last month, China was determined to be the largest economy in the world by the International Monetary Fund – a mantle the United States had held for more than 140 years, the BBC reports.

The nation has also been cutting its poverty rate, leading to a boom in the middle class, which according to McKinsey & Company could account for almost three-quarters of Chinese households within 10 years.

Historically, health tourism has been confined to the extremely wealthy, but the growing numbers of middle-class residents are looking to take advantage of expertise in other countries – particularly when it comes to health – as disposable incomes surge.

The China Daily reported in 2012 that around 60,000 Chinese people travel abroad every year for healthcare services, with the most common reasons being for anti-aging therapy, cancer screening, to give birth, or for the treatment of chronic diseases.

And as one of the world leaders in medical research and care, Mayo Clinic is now looking to get in on the action in a market expected to get bigger and bigger, with Reuters reporting that medical tourism from China and the rest of Asia is expected to grow at a rate of 15-20 percent a year.

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