What Are International Patients Looking for from Foreign Providers?
Do you have what it takes to attract a growing number of international patients seeking treatment abroad?
International patients seeking medical services across borders or globally look at more than just cost comparisons in their search for the right physician and right facility to address their specific needs.
Smart consumers look for various factors when seeking treatment abroad… top 10 factors include:
- Credentials – recognized international accreditations & certifications.
- Experience – board certified doctors, training, years of experience.
- Patient References – patient testimonials, before & after pictures.
- Specific Treatment Methods – uniqueness of center & procedures offered.
- Comprehensive Solution – provide complete solution to a treatment.
- Reputation – locally as well as internationally e.g., publications, research papers.
- Language – effectively communicate in patient’s preferred language.
- Geographic Location – local conveniences, transportation services, attractions.
- Cost – clear price list, services included in the package, pricing options.
- Benchmark Data – any comparative information that will convince patients.
Sure, the price is great, but are they trading cost for quality?
When shopping around for a medical provider to address any medical or health need, consumers need to be able to comfortably and adequately research information about the facility, physicians providing the treatment, and nursing care available at that location.
Top 10 factors that drive international patients to select a foreign provider include:
Domestic as well as international physicians and surgeons should be certified in their specialty field by either international associations or through domestic associations and organizations within their country of origin. The certifications and accreditations from authorities such as JCI, ISO, among others should be presented to patients to build their confidence that the facility the patient will go for treatment meets or exceeds international standards.
Travelers are always encouraged to check the credentials of any physician, facility as well as staff involved in surgical and non-surgical treatments and procedures.
Many specialty fields such as cosmetic or plastic surgery and orthopedics require that physicians or surgeons have completed training, and perhaps even a certain number of procedures before being licensed in that field. Often times, such training may take two to four years after regular medical studies and internships or residencies have been completed. Highlighting the doctor’s experience in terms of their education as well as years of practice in the field is critical to providing comfort to medical tourists.
International patients seeking specific procedures or treatments look for success stories of prior cases. Testimonials and references should be made readily available by healthcare providers to interested consumers to develop a sense of security before they make a decision to travel to a foreign country for a procedure.
Many people use before and after photos to judge the capability and expertise of a physician or surgeon, especially in the fields of cosmetic and plastic surgery. Such photographs as well as written testimonials often play a large part in helping a consumer decide on one provider over another.
Specific Treatment Methods
Prior to committing to a procedure, international patients are researching and learning everything about the procedure they are seeking. Educating patients on the specific treatment methods that would be used for any patient’s specific case is critical. Using pictures and plain language, i.e., non-medical terms, are generally considered as best business practices when you are trying to win patients from abroad.
Providing end-to-end solutions for a particular treatment is certainly a way to attract patients. Patient should be comfortable to learn that the chosen healthcare provider specializes in the field and can offer in-depth solutions that cover all elements that should be considered for that treatment. For example, a weight loss surgery center may offer everything from dietary, nutrition, exercise, and behavioral training opportunities to clients after a weigh loss surgery. Such comprehensive solutions are always welcomed.
Of course, reputation of any organization is extremely important, especially in the medical field. Any physician, surgeon, or medical facility should have a good community reputation. Many facilities as well as surgeons and other staff members have been published in international research papers, journals, and medical papers. While garnering an international reputation takes time, clients and consumers should be able to access local or country of origin resources, which will help to gauge the reputation and standing of any physician or service in their community.
Being able to communicate with physicians, nurses, caregivers, and staff members in any treatment facility is extremely important. Being able to effectively communicate requires that certain facilities around the world provide multilingual staff members and services. This is also extremely important when communicating with the prospective patient initially, as this sets precedence as to how patients may perceive your services.
Medical travelers often make their choices due to surrounding attractions, transportation and hotel services, as well as easy access to their physician’s office, treatment center, or hospital. Highlight your center’s location.
Cost does play an important role in determining where a patient might go for treatment. Generally, international patients do extensive research not only regarding the factors highlighted above, but also on prices offered by different centers. Offering price transparency is critical and should clearly define what is included and excluded from the price.
Facts and Data
Whenever possible, present benchmark or comparative data to prospective patients. This may include price comparison, success rate, and any other factual information about the specific treatment that a patient is seeking.
Medical travelers are concerned about who you are and what you can do for them. Reassure them through accessible contact, offer details about your experience and expertise, and most important of all, proactively provide that information to them.
Transparency is essential in order to help people make informed decisions about their health care needs. People are going to want to know about your services in detail before agreeing to make an appointment. These should be made readily available when communicating with patients.