How to be competitive on the global medical tourism market?
On 21–24 May IMTJ Medical Travel Summit took place in Athens. This is a high-level event aimed at senior decision makers involved in the medical tourism and international patient market.
The summit began with a business cocktail party on the roof of the Radisson Blu Hotel that overlooked the Acropolis. During the meeting, participants were exchanging business cards. There were about 61 speakers and about 200 visitors.
Among others issues, the agenda included the healthcare destination brand building, patients’ experience, global trends on the market, online marketing, statistics and the data research in medical tourism.
Let’s learn more about the issues that were discussed at the summit.
Healthcare destination brand building. Actually, this topic becomes relevant as a large number of countries have plans to create medical tourism clusters at home.
Patience experience and patient-centered strategy. Patients’ experience before, during and after the treatment is a cornerstone in maintaining the sustainable business processes. The representatives of the clinics have confirmed this fact in their success stories that were told at the summit.
Global trends. Although the medical tourism market demonstrates the constant growth, this one is more marked in reallocating of patients’ flows. It depends on many factors, such as the legislative framework, country’s activity, medical specialization.
Online marketing. Some speakers shared their experience in the Internet promotion. There were the representatives of the technological start-up companies such as Qunomedical and the EasyCase service. A compelling report of Helen Watson from Ogilvy Healthworld focused on a customer journey map. How does it work? The patient’s experience before, during and after the treatment is considered in details from the patient’s point of view. How does the patient think and feel about his experience? A model of the business process should be based on these facts.
Statistics and the data research. In the academic session, professor Hideomi Yamada from the University of Tokyo Hospital presented some statistics. According to his research, 10% of clinics have experienced in working with foreign patients. Another key fact to remember is that patients usually are interested in oncological and cardiovascular treatment.
Some sessions of the summit were focused on the countries of the CIS and the Middle East countries.
Eugeniy Chernyshev, Vice-President of Medical Tourism Agencies Association has run the CIS countries section and Natalia Strokovska, Editor-in-Chief of medical tourism magazine DoctorGeo has spoken about the Ukrainian market.
Alla Rezina, co-founder of the EasyCase service provided the set of marketing tools for b2b and b2c segments on the CIS markets. The presentation targeted clinics which are interested in attracting of Russian-speaking patients.
The IMTAA experts' conclusions:
Firstly, the outbound CIS market is not growing now, it is steady. There are many clinics overseas which are oriented at the English-speaking patients. The common practice of medical tourism agencies is to send patient requests in Russian, this could potentially limit patients from the CIS countries in getting modern medical facilities.
Secondly, in this context the CIS market can be considered as potentially lucrative. According to the Fenia Stathakis report from FC Consulting Service, the British public hospitals are looking for a new opportunity on the other markets. Their sales were slipping, the clinics have lost 40% of inbound patients. By the way, in the EasyCase service, the British clinics are available for request in Russian and English for more than half a year.
Thirdly, the IMTJ Medical Travel Summit is gathering participants from other countries regardless of their level of development in medical tourism. Among the top three countries, most popular for Russian patients as a healthcare destination (Germany, Israel, South Korea), only the Republic of Korea has been present. This country has ambitious plans for future and has the strategy in this field.
Greece also targets to develop medical tourism destination. Elitour Association promotes the best five hospitals (so-called Athens Medical Group) with the state support. They are available in the EasyCase service.
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