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Essential Factors for a Successful Medical Tourism Business

Tourism is a pioneer and diverse industry in the world. It is considered as one of the main sources of countries income. According to experts’ predictions, tourism will become the most profitable industry in the world by 2020. International growth, global competition and interests in tourism destinations have emerged the need of various types of tourism. Today, many countries with regards to the human beings need for health, have developed medical industry as a source of massive income in relation to tourism. Increasing 20% in admission of foreign patients in American hospitals confirms this matter. Medical tourism is a new type of tourism and an international and political-economic phenomenon, which is growing fast in the world, especially in Asian countries

Essential Factors for a Successful Medical Tourism Business

Introduction

Tourism is a pioneer and diverse industry in the world. It is considered as one of the main sources of countries income. According to experts’ predictions, tourism will become the most profitable industry in the world by 2020. International growth, global competition and interests in tourism destinations have emerged the need of various types of tourism. Today, many countries with regards to the human beings need for health, have developed medical industry as a source of massive income in relation to tourism. Increasing 20% in admission of foreign patients in American hospitals confirms this matter. Medical tourism is a new type of tourism and an international and political-economic phenomenon, which is growing fast in the world, especially in Asian countries

Medical tourism is defined as the provision of the cost-effective medical care, collaboration with tourism industry, for patients needing surgical and other treatments. Asian countries including India, Thailand and Singapore are the main destinations of medical tourism. The main reasons for choosing these countries as a medical tourism destination by tourists are low cost, high quality of medical services, approved hospitals by international accreditation organizations like Temos and JCA, better infrastructure, experienced doctors and fast access to services

The medical tourism industry in Iran has unique features, including high quality of medical services, low cost of medication and treatment, access to advanced equipment and services, and skilled doctors. Lack of health tourism information systems, the existent of problems in the level of policymakers and managers, the brokerage between patients and hospital, lack of follow up systems, lack of insurance laws in accordance with international standards, constantly changing technologies, and inefficient rules in medical crimes are problems in the Iran’s medical tourism industry.

The development of this industry will improve the quality of health care services and generate employment in the health sector and lead to global standards.

“Tangibles” as the physical facilities, equipment, and appearance of personnel, “assurance” as the knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to inspire trust and confidence among consumers; and “empathy” as caring, individualized attention the firm provides for its customers.

 

Necessary changes to improve the quality of tourism services:

One way to improve medical tourist’s loyalty, is focusing on the quality of provided services and patient’s needs. There are many ways to improve the quality of medical tourism. The medical tourism industry must

Motivations of medical tourists

Motivations in medical tourism are a collection of patients' internal needs which stimulate the patients to travel to the destination country to use the healthcare services. So, recognizing motivations helps policymakers to understand the medical tourists' behavior to choose his/her destination. Travel motivations for patients are different. American patients seek medical services in a lower cost compared to their home country. Canadian and British patients travel due to long waiting lists for healthcare services. Some patients have no access to some services in their own country. Some of them also want to spend their leisure time and holiday with elective surgery, including cosmetic surgery. In reviewed studies, different motivations were mentioned. They included; travel agencies advertising, friend recommendation, low quality of medical services in the source country, language of the destination country, facilitating government regulation, proximity to the destination country, low cost of healthcare service, skilled doctors, advanced technology, comprehensive health services, good reputation, hospital standards observation, high level of trust, tourism aspects of the destination country, easy communication with doctors, easy travel to the destination country, having shared cultural characteristics, facilities and the equipment at the international standards

Medical tourists' expectations

Service quality is a judgment between patient expectation and the perception from the provided services. Expectation is the patients' needs from service providers. Providing a service lower than expectation always leads to dissatisfied patients. Factors affecting the coverage of the medical tourist’s expectation included: high quality services, good hospitality, high skill medical care service, low cost care, international accreditation for hospitals, accepting health insurance patients, transparency of prices, receiving all the services in one stage, providing correct information for patients, improving information services, providing services at an international standard, treatment approach based on patient-centered, clinical audit, continuous quality improvement, several educational process, competing with global competitors, investing in new technology, staff and organization development, medical records, physicians familiar with English language, providing staff throughout the day, and patient safety.

Medical tourists' perceptions

Patients' perception is their mental belief of the performance quality. If the perception is more than expectation, it can be said that the hospital has provided qualified services. Providing adequate information about patients' perception of service quality can assist hospitals to detect dimensions and the competitive advantage service quality. In these studies, most patients' perception of provided services quality include; desirable admission services, low waiting lists, nutrition services, affordable rooms, high communication skills of staff, good behavior of staff, transparency of cost, new medical equipment, a variety of provided medical services, providing timely care, fast service delivery, effective medication, and emphasizing the clinical diagnosis

Medical tourists' concerns                                 

Given the fact that the medical tourism industry is growing, its challenges should not be forgotten. Since these challenges are global issues, converting them to opportunities, facilitates the process of attracting patients. Since patient awareness is increasing, the patient's thoughts and emotions should be the priority of health centers. Follow-up system, qualification and skills of doctors, personal safety, hospital infections, legal protection, and the cost of medical services were the main concerns of medical tourists before travelling to their destinations.

conclusion: 

The necessary changes would be patient satisfaction, motivations, patients' expectations, patients' perceptions, and patients' concerns. Due to the intense global competition among organizations providing health services, there are close relationships between the quality of medical tourism services and the satisfaction of medical tourists. Therefore, these organizations are looking for ways to assess service quality and to improve it. Observing the variety of dimensions of services quality in medical tourism to attract more patients to the country, is a requirement for the policy of a country's health care system. So identify the dimensions of this field and to ensure the quality of provided services at international standards.

 

references:


  • Torabipour, Amin- International Journal of Medical Reviews

By: مهشید معینی


مهشید  معینی

کارشناس ارشد مدیریت بیمارستان مدیر عامل شرکت سریر سلامت مهام، نماینده شرکت تموس آلمان در ایران