Medical Tourism|11/06/2013

Thinking About Medical Tourism? A Reality Check(list) for Hospitals.

Thinking about medical tourism?

If you are a hospital, clinic or doctor thinking about medical tourism then you should be asking yourself these five questions.

  1. Do you have capacity?  This seems obvious but I cannot tell you how many times I have worked with hospitals and doctors that are thinking about medical tourism only to hear “…but the only problem is we have no beds”.  If your hospital is running at or near functional capacity (>80% occupancy) then I say stop thinking about medical tourists, because you don’t need the business.
  2.  Do you have a clear business reason for pursuing medical tourists?  What are clear business reasons? One, you have empty beds that you need to fill.  Two, you want to diversify your patient base.   Three, you want better yield.  Medical tourists typically pay cash and travel for higher acuity services.  They tend to generate more revenue per visit or admission.  If you are thinking about medical tourism because you think it will help branding and prestige, then think again.  That’s putting the cart before the horse.
  3. Is medical tourism in your business plan?  A lot of hospitals and doctors start thinking about medical tourism because it looks and sounds sexy, but it’s a business like any other and requires a serious commitment of time, people and resources (read money).  The toe-in-the-water approach is unlikely to get you very far, and I can always gauge how serious a provider is depending on how they answer this question.  If it is not part of the business plan, then it’s really just a press release.
  4. Do you have a clear differentiator? “We’re cheaper than X or we’ re better than Y” are common responses, but price is relative and quality is subjective in healthcare.  The patient experience, support services, speed of response, and connectivity are good places to lead.
  5. Are you leader in your home market?  When you look at hospitals or doctors that have a substantive medical tourism business, they are typically leaders in their home market and already treat domestic medical tourists.

 If your hospital is thinking about medical tourism and you can answer ‘yes’ to all five of these questions, then you’re well on your way.

Thinking about medical tourism

Medical Toursim Reality Check(list)

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