There are many governments, healthcare businesses and national tourism organizations worldwide that want to become medical tourism destinations. But for most this pursuit has been in vain. There are many reasons why success has proved elusive. Investment in medical tourism services and healthcare facilities has been made on the assumption that after the facilities are built and services offered medical tourists will come automatically.
National medical tourism strategy has not been well thought through. Program leaders haven’t recognized that success in medical tourism depends on:
- Identifying profitable market niches and market segments that match the country’s capabilities and those of its medical professionals.
- Raising awareness locally and communicating effectively the advantages it offers to the target audience.
- Understanding fully the requirements of the target markets.
- Developing medical tourism offering and a brand to meet those requirements.
Some countries have embarked on promoting medical tourism without making sure that they are ready to manage the diverse needs of the international patients. Some countries have simply paid a lot of cash for poor advice!
There’re a lot of opportunities for you to develop your international medical tourism business if you can successfully get the correct message across to the right audience through the correct media.
For you to fully understand what the market requires, you should get insight from the market leading experts and thinkers in medical tourism who can offer honest and independent view of the opportunities available, market sector and your market position.
One of the important components to the success of any medical tourism business is identifying the channel partners that you can use to create a sustainable stream of referrals. The channel partners may be academic medical centers, medical tourism agencies, high profile doctors as well as companies, institutions and universities with high profiles in the service segments that you want to penetrate.
Creating an effective medical tourism strategy involves:
- Understanding the market
- Quantifying the market – size of the business and consumer markets for your services.
- Identifying the need – which countries have sustainable demand for what you are offering.
- Meeting that need – the needs of your target market should match your country’s competencies and its participating clinics and hospitals.
- Understanding the perceptions of the consumers.
- Identifying the competitive advantage
Understanding and defining your brand identity and the unique essence of your service and product is important before engaging in any advertising, marketing or promotion. Brand experts will work closely with your management team to formulate and refine the positioning, vision and values of your organization so that it can be communicated to the rest of the world.
Healthcare providers and destinations must create a coordinated approach to PR, marketing and promotion in target markets so that:
- A consistent message is communicated.
- The advantages of the healthcare provider or destination are clearly identified and communicated.
- A positive and pro-active message is developed.
- The message isn’t just about low cost (i.e. affordable) but it’s about the brand.
- The delivery of the message should consider all media PR, online, print and advertising.