At the beginning of this month, we spent some time talking about medical tourism and the potential business opportunities it offers for the spa and wellness industries. This week, we would like to look at this topic from a different angle, one more focused on the impact medical tourism is having on healthcare systems around the world.
In particular, we would like to talk about the challenges that healthcare faces today in a world dominated by the Internet, globalisation and the arrival of more demanding customers willing to shop for the best available services out there. We would like to bring into this discussion some of the insights provided by Ruben Toral, healthcare marketing consultant and founder of Medeguide, in his article How consumerism, globalization and the internet are changing health care. Let’s have a look.
A global healthcare crisis
Before we talked about the challenges the turn of the century has brought to healthcare, it is important to remember that the crisis surrounding healthcare systems today is a consequence of the very nature in which these systems have been functioning during the last decades.
Traditionally speaking, healthcare has been based on reactive models that treat patients when they are already in critical conditions. Instead of using a preventive approach, healthcare systems around the world have been stuck on a model where the human and financial costs have gone out of control.
A valid option
Considering such a critical scenario, medical tourism has gained force as a valid option to deal with the imperfections that healthcare poses today. As stated by Ruben Toral in his article, “medical tourism exists because there are wide disparities in cost, quality and access in health care markets all around the world.”
This is exactly why countries like Thailand, Mexico or Turkey, which are capable of providing good healthcare services at an affordable cost, have become the best places for medical tourism to flourish.
Effective business model
Besides taking advantage of the current crisis affecting healthcare systems, the recent boom of medical tourism is tightly related to the implementation of innovative business models that know how to seize the opportunities offered by the Internet and globalised world full of new consumer demands.
The experience of the Bumrungrad International hospital in Thailand, which Ruben Toral discusses in his article, is a good example of effective business within the medical tourism field. Apart from its high standards and low costs, the enormous success of the Bumrungrad is based on its capacity to build customer advocacy, overall adaptability to the market and innovation.
Furthermore, medical tourism has been more defined by the transactional process than by the whole traveling experience. As stated by Ruben Toral, “medical tourism is packaging health care in a way that consumers with cash and choice understand. That’s the real medical tourism story – not patients traveling abroad for care. That has been happening for centuries.”
A new environment
As we have seen, medical tourism has flourished because of the dramatic crisis surrounding healthcare systems around the world and its own ability to make the most of a global, web-based environment where a demanding costumer looking for transparency and speed is at the centre of the business.
We believe the spa and wellness industries can play an important role in this rapidly evolving environment. If we continue to build business models based on prevention, innovation, flexibility and tap into the power of the Internet in this globalised world, we will be able to join the imminent revolution that is affecting healthcare today.