The medical sector is one of the biggest sectors in the world. Given the field in which it deals, the world suffers with lots of health issues and with the changing times the health issues among individuals have only grown. A disadvantage to one is an advantage to another. As many people are suffering from various health problems, the medical world that includes doctors, nurses, hospital, chemists, medicine industry, all are seeing immense growth.
As the world is much more connected than ever before, people are also engaging for medical services at global level going for treatment to the best hospital in the world rather than limiting their approach to regional or national level. Some countries are known to be the best in the world for medical treatment and thus they attract patients all across the globe who come for treatment. This has led to the rise in medical tourism.
Medical tourism in simple words is traveling from one place to another, especially from country to another to obtain medical treatment. There are many reasons that compel or encourage people to go for medical tourism. Some of them are:
- Relatively cheaper treatment that can easily be afforded
- Better medical facilities and treatment opportunities
- Renowned doctors who have made their names
- Excellent medical services and facilities
- For special and specific treatment that is limited to only few places
There are many developing countries and underdeveloped countries that have poor medical infra and facilities. This leads to health crisis and people who can afford have to seek help from doctors of other countries like USA, China, Singapore, London and India.
Similarly, some treatments are expensive in many developed nations and people there prefer to get treated in other countries that offer relatively cheaper treatment like India, Thailand, Singapore, Costa Rica, etc. Thus the business of medical tourism grows and is now one of the sectors that is witnessing immense growth all over world. If you are interested to try hands in medical tourism then this article is of help to you.
Role of a Medical Tourism Business:
Before you move ahead do you know what exactly will be the role of your business? What exactly a medical tourism business does? Such questions deserve a brief answer so that before you invest in the business you get to know what exactly it is all about. As a medical tourism business you are expected to have details of doctors who are specialized in specific medical field, are physicians, are much renowned, list of hospitals along with the service they offer and their location, cost of treatment for various health disorder in various hospitals and under various doctors, contact details of all such doctors and hospitals with verified credentials for all such doctors and hospitals.
You are also required to have healthy network in the medical tourism field in order to accommodate the visiting client, travel route, his stay in the place and other necessary needs. Thus as a medical tourism business you are required not only to facilitate the best medical treatment to your client but to also assist him in his stay and accommodation. For all the above things you will charge them your required fees.
Though these things look simple but get very tough when you go and work inside. Arranging medical visa, booking emergency flights, managing bed in some very sought after hospitals are quite tough tasks that require experience and good source and networking within the medical sector.
Feasibility Analysis and Research on Medical Tourism:
Before you enter any field it is necessary to be well informed about the various aspects of that field. Thus when you plan to invest in the medical tourism industry it is necessary that you get well informed and for that you need to do deep research on the topic. The best way for you to get detailed information is to hire a professional and conduct a feasibility analysis report that will give you the true picture of the medical tourism industry.
You can get all the answer you deem fit to know through this based on various researches and data analyzed. This ensures that you will take an informed decision in the field of your business and plan accordingly. Some of the common questions that come across are:
- How much investment is required?
- How much profit will one make in this field?
- What exactly is medical tourism? Various aspects of it
- Key points related to the industry
- What to do and not to do while starting your business
- Opportunities, competition and return.
You can also and specific questions based on your area of operation, investment, resources and your role in the business. Based on the results prepare a solid business plan that will help you in shaping up your business idea and moving up towards its implementation.
Get yourself Certified:
Credentials are important in medical tourism and therefore you should get yourself certified from the required authority. By fulfilling the required criteria you can get yourself certified and a license will be issued that will help you in the later while of your business. Most of the countries through their health ministries and tourism ministry grant licenses to the qualified businesses so that they can continue in their business.
Since you will be dealing beyond your country therefore you have to get various certifications and permissions. In order to make your job easy, you can hire a professional advisor in medical tourism to help you out from various technical glitches you may face. As you get all the required certification and permissions move ahead by teaming up with hospitals and doctors.
Networking: Teaming up with Doctors and Hospitals
Teaming and networking with group of hospitals and doctors is a necessary step in order to create your own circle where you can refer your clients. The formal way is to first sit up with the hospital head or the doctors concerned and explain your terms. Since you are giving new clients to the hospital your work would be easy.
In return the hospitals give a percentage of the total profit made from fees that the patient pays along with endorsement and reviews. If you have successfully closed the deal you can get a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by them. You should also network with some renowned doctors who are in demand for special treatment. Thus connecting your client directly with the concerned doctor gives an edge over the rest.
There are two sides of medical tourism. First is when you facilitate your own countrymen to another country for treatment and second is when you facilitate foreigners from different countries in your own country. The second is a bit easy when it comes to networking with hospitals and doctors in your own country. For the first, you can also team up with other such medical tourism businesses operating in those countries and on each referral you can get a pre-determined commission.
Getting Medical Visas:
There is a determined process through which everyone gets the required medical visa to travel to another country both from his country and to the country he aims to visit. This may sometimes get delayed at times and that is when medical tourism agencies play their role by using their sources in the Visa department. In order to facilitate easy and immediate visa approvals build your contacts in the ministry of External Affairs of your country.
Arranging Travel Tickets, Accommodations and Departure:
An ailing person traveling to a different country cannot afford to get these things done especially in a foreign country and that is when you will come at their rescue. Get all the travel details of your client and book their tickets, manage their accommodations in advance including their departure. In case of emergency booking tickets and rooms becomes hard and that is why you should be in close terms with traveling booking sites and agencies for smoother work.
Special Traveling and Ambulances:
Some critical patients require special treatment and travel facilities like air ambulances, and specially equipped ambulances which are not easily found unless asked for. It is necessary that you are in contacts with them in case of emergency to ensure your client is treated well on time.
Your Presence in the Market:
Your presence in the market is needed to be felt in order to grow. Get your own website with a presentable business name along with logo. Be active on all social media and digital platform using social media marketing. The traditional way is to network with doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, chemists to endorse you.
Many of the clients look on internet or consult their friends, relatives, and family doctors for the same while the rest do Google searches. Whatever the method they adopt you should be present at all platforms in order to rope your clients. In common cases, a patient who cannot be treated further because of lack of resources and facility in a particular hospital is referred to foreign hospitals. They usually give the reference for a particular hospital along with the agency that will manage all the travel and accommodations. This is where your contact will be helpful for your business.
Your Business Team:
Build up your core team that will manage your client and entertain them passionately. Another team that will manage your relations with the hospitals, doctors and other medical institutions. Third team would be managing the paperwork including that of visa approval, tickets, passports, etc. Your team should be efficient and proactive in dealing at all fronts especially with clients and immediate service providers like travel agents, visa approval authority, hospital accommodations, etc.
Your Business Marketing and Business Branding:
People will get to know you only when you are present at all the platforms they will use to get to you. Social media, digital platforms, websites are common ways to make your presence felt. It is important to present yourself in a professional and sophisticated manner in order to build yourself as a brand. Get your own website which has all the details a client searches for. Be objective and clear to ensure that your client returns satisfied. Some common queries that should be answered are:
- Countries known for treating particular diseases
- Medical hospitals known for treating particular and specific medical disorder
- Renowned doctors specialized in specific field
- Contact details of the aforesaid
- Ways to get operated in those hospitals, countries and by doctors
- Managing travel tickets, medical visa, accommodation, etc.
- Reviews by clients, of hospitals, doctors and your business.
With such information on your website your client will return satisfied and will most probably choose you for help. Using advanced methods of digital marketing you can also target your clients who require particular medical help and are in need to travel abroad. You can set up a call center where you can connect with your potential clients and entertain the clients approaching you.
- While connecting and networking with hospitals and doctors, do a personal check and enquiry about them and the service they offer. Only after you are satisfied with their work commitment and quality medical services, go ahead and network with them.
- Always remind yourself about the role you are limited to play. Do exactly what your job is rather that going ahead and doing things not in your domain as in case you fail you will lose your reputation unnecessarily.
- Do not offer which you cannot fulfil. Tell your clients clearly about the responsibility you are limited to.
- Operate as a genuine and certified medical tourism business to ensure your credibility. Have a registered business and office.
- Charge what is charged in a competitive market and based on your service and client review you can review your fee model. Be ethical in your business and do not ever exploit your helpless client. It is not only sin but has worse impact on your business as any client in contract with you will do so with full trust and once it is gone your business is over.
Professionalism and promptness is the key to success in service industry. In medical service things go much serious and requires critical approach. It would be best for you if you spend few years in this field before you go on your own as such experience will ease your work when you start on your own.