Challenges and Trends for Medical Tourism
As we look into the current status of medical tourism industry, the trends and expectations closely mimic trends expected in the hospitality industry. While cautious optimism is felt by many, it should by no means be assumed continuous growth in this industry without addressing business fundamentals. With heightened competitive environment locally, regionally and globally, medical tourism companies need to focus on emerging markets and create a differentiator as well as customer experience to increase revenue, client base, and branding in the wake of such trends.
Pramod Goel, Chief Executive Officer at PlacidWay, shares his perspective on what will define the beginning of the next generation of innovation in the medical tourism industry.
Medical Tourism Trends and Expectations
Due to the continued uncertainties of global economies, it is natural to expect heightened competition between medical tourism providers. Because they are all seeking to either maintain or increase their client base as well as to get new clients. Technology continues to leads the way in offering consumers the best that medical providers have to offer.
What are the key issues the medical tourism industry faces and how can we handle them?
A major trend is in the increased competition, both globally as well as regionally and locally. Established medical providers must prepare to face a massive increase in competition. More medical providers are entering in the medical tourism industry as well as the governments are gearing up to promote their country and its healthcare systems, while more healthcare regulations worldwide are emerging to curtail medical travel. Due to limited barriers to entry in the medical tourism industry, medical providers will continue flock in this already competitive field. The multi-channel promotional environment, used by all involved in the industry to promote their products and services, is expected to further influence this fierce competition.
Considering the growing competitive environment, medical providers need to stay on the top of their game when it comes to branding, marketing, and services. Increasing domestic and global presence today relies heavily on the virtual environment. Social media and visibility, accessibility, and not the least important – reputation are key. Availability of online information for consumers to do their research and understand their choices is important when selecting the provider. With increased transparency of available information online, the competition will be heighted in coming years and beyond.
Key Issues in Medical Tourism Industry
Lack of Product Differentiators
The large numbers of medical providers in the medical tourism industry makes it increasingly difficult to establish a clear product differentiator. Each and every medical provider is competing on cost, quality, and location “attractiveness”. The medical providers are investing more in an attempt to stand-out with their products and services. A blurring product differentiation and increased price pressure may result in declining revenue and lower profits. The clear product distinction is the new challenge.
Growth in Emerging Markets
Although the demand of medical tourism services in established markets appears to remain unchanged. But it is precisely this demand that will have an impact with government regulations. Governments are attempting to curtail the money spent on people traveling abroad for medical care. Similarly, increasing numbers of local medical providers will develop products and services that can compete economically with medical tourism organizations. This would require medical tourism providers to seek new opportunities in emerging markets. This will in turn, favor medical travel for citizens due to the ever-changing healthcare system.
Getting Ahead in Today’s Tough Economics
Medical tourism providers must take a step back and thoroughly examine their medical practices, processes, systems, and services in order to compete in the industry. Heavy emphasis should be placed on branding, consumer experience, creating sustainable infrastructure, cost effective operations, and transparent and reliable information management.
Branding and Recognition
Branding and recognition will be essential for success. Clear brand messages and differentiator will be the key in attracting mainstream consumers in the medical tourism industry. In a highly competitive industry, the consumer will seek a well-established brand to reduce the risk and gain confidence on healthcare outcomes. Getting ahead in the medical tourism industry today relies heavily on reputation and loyalty.
The medical tourist will seek opinion from peers to understand and focus on their experience and will buy products and services that embrace and create superior consumer experience to build customer loyalty. Consumer experience will be the key differentiator for medical providers and how they present this experience to the general public as an educational tool.
Getting Ahead of Competition in Medical Tourism
Medical tourism companies will gain a competitive advantage by establishing and focusing on creating a sustainable infrastructure that includes the integration of people, process and systems. By leveraging cost-effective measures and optimization of the end-to-end processes, they will address the complexities of medical tourism business and offer a business advantage. Integrating technology could further enhance the overall business performance.
A medical provider with a solid infrastructure that offers transparency, information, research, and a database of accumulated knowledge regarding doctors, surgeons, healthcare facilities, treatments, surgeries and procedures is essential for success. Information is power and consumers today want to be informed. They go through a large amount of information on the Internet before approaching, let alone making decisions, regarding medical travel.
Growing Medical Tourism
The performance of a medical tourism organization will depend on how fast an organization adapts to changing business environments and innovations in this highly competitive environment. Companies that are able to perform in-depth analysis of their consumer behavior, preferences, and overall trends of the industry will outperform others in the industry.
A clear understanding of consumer likes and dislikes and customer service orientation will build consumer confidence and reinforce brand image. Customer satisfaction and loyalty relies NOT on the facilitator or medical tourism company but on focus, compassion, and strategy that caters to the customer’s needs, wants and goals throughout the process.
Success depends on the careful research and exploiting the potential of market opportunities, as well as utilizing technology in the improvement of systems, operations, marketing, information dissemination as well as promotion and branding of the medical tourism business. Leverage the industry opportunities such as business platforms and social media to cater to customer preferences! Enhance customer loyalty and improve not only market shares and profits, but also the growth and stability of your business!
About the Author
Mr. Pramod Goel is president and founder of PlacidWay, an internationally recognized industry leader in medical tourism. Mr. Goel is the author of recently released book Evolution of Medical Tourism: from Cottage Industry to Corporate World, currently available at Amazon.com.
PlacidWay is a U.S.-based medical tourism company with presence in over 40 countries worldwide, offering most comprehensive solution to over 500 medical providers globally, from India to Turkey to Mexico and Costa Rica.
Evolution of Medical Tourism: From Cottage Industry to Corporate World (English Version)
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