Abstract Asia has emerged as a leading medical travel and leisure destination lately. The increase inside the number of intercontinental patients shows that Thailand offers great prospect of medical travel and leisure and the improvement of it is marketing strategies is going to further raise the image of Thailand as a medical tourism destination.
In order to face off the issues of growing competition type India, Singapore, Malaysia and also other destinations, Asia needs many other things to improve the marketing as a favourite medical tourism vacation spot in the region. Consequently , this exploratory research was set to assess the current marketing plans of health-related providers and intermediaries through interviews with stakeholders and observation, and to propose successful marketing strategies pertaining to preserving and enhancing Thailand’s position as a leading medical tourism destination. This qualitative research utilized semi-structured selection interviews to examine the current marketing strategies of Thailand’s health care service providers.
Interviews took place with healthcare companies (public private hospitals, private hospitals, and clinics), medical travel agents and related get-togethers, at a number of popular travel and leisure destinations of Thailand: Bangkok, Phuket, and Pattaya. Respondents were selected through purposive sampling. Additionally , observation of stakeholders’ websites and internet marketing of companies of competition (Singapore, India, and Malaysia) took place. The paper recognizes the advantages of Thailand’s healthcare companies and points at several problems that might reduce the development opportunity of this industry.
Included in this are lack of useful government procedures with regard to medical tourism associated with other supporting regulations, deficiency of organization being a cooperation middle aimed at promoting the medical tourism industry as a whole, staying low awareness of the chances presented by the industry amongst potential international patients, and shortage of doctors and certified medical personnel. Measures pertaining to improvement will be suggested. Keywords: medical travelling, medical travel, Thailand, sales strategies 1 . Introduction Medical travel is a new form of a niche tourism market that can be rapidly growing inside the recent years.
The term Medical tourism describes vacationers who go oversea countries to obtain health care services and facilities including medical, dental and medical care while having the possibility to combine it with browsing tourist attractions of these country. The primary groups of Medical tourists come from the industrialized countries of the world especially Europe, the UK, Middle East, Japan, U. S. and Canada where cost of medical treatment is very high-priced and there are often long holding out times intended for treatments . Other than Thailand, countries that are currently promoting medical tourism are Bolivia, Brazil, Belgium, Barrica, Costa Rica, Hungary, India, Israel, Jordan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Belgium, Singapore and South Korea.
The main causes of the developing popularity in medical travel are: 1 . ) The long waiting lists in the created countries, installment payments on your ) The low cost of medical treatments in developing countries, three or more. ) The affordable foreign air prices and beneficial exchange prices, 4. ) The Internet; with all the development of marketing and sales communications, new companies have got emerged whom acts as middlemen between foreign patients and hospital systems, giving sufferers easy access to information, prices and option, 5. ) The state-of-art technology that is adopted by the new healthcare services . Thailand has surfaced in recent years among the leaders on the market.
Data accumulated from 30 private hospitals by Department of Export Advertising of Ministry of Business shows the increasing volume of international patients who arrived at obtain the medical treatments in private hospitals in Asia. In 97 only 120, 000 patients came for medical treatment; since then, the number has substantially increased to 975, 532 in the year 2003 and one particular, 356, 000 in 2006 (see Figure 1).
Source: Data collected coming from 30 hostipal wards by Section of Export Promotion, Ministry of Business (cited in http://mrd-hss.moph.go.th/ac/download.asp) Asia has a quantity of competitive advantages: it is previously a well-known traveler destination; it can be one of the first countries which came into the medical tourism industry; it is known for its unique lifestyle of support the renown Thailander hospitality; and in addition provides top quality services simply by qualified staff at a fair price. Beneath the guidance and regulation of the Ministry of Public Health, a lot of Thai hospitals have been recognized and approved for the standards set by the Hospital Certification of both equally Thailand and International (Joint Commission Intercontinental or JCI), and also other worldwide standards just like ISO and Hazards and Critical Control Points Basic principle (HACCP).
Thailand’s main Oriental competitors in the marketplace of medical tourism will be India, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong . India, with its less expensive of wellness services, has emerged while an important competitor to Asia. It had around 150, 500 patients in 2004 as well as the Indian govt predicted that this industry may grow simply by 13% per year in the near future . Naturally, India still lacks the quality of standards and infrastructure, and suffers from a bad image because of the low care and sanitation perception of travelers.
Singapore has excessive living standards, a strong federal government support to get the medical tourism sector, excellent The english language speaking interaction and good quality medical providers. Their solutions are offered for somewhat higher prices as compared to Thailand tend to be still cheap than in produced countries. 5 years ago, 410, 000 patients traveled to Singapore specifically for healthcare plus the country wants to15325 attract 1 million medical travelers every year by 2012 (www.singaporemedicine.com).
Malaysia also offers low prices for health care services, so that as a mostly Muslim nation has a competitive advantage in attracting people from the Middle East . Based on the Association of personal Hospitals Malaysia , the number of international patients looking for medical solutions in Malaysia has grown by 75, 210 patients in 2001 to 296, 687 patients 5 years ago and produced 59 , 000, 000 USD in revenue. To be able to face from the challenges of growing competition, Thailand demands among other things to enhance its marketing of healthcare services.
Therefore , this research was collection with the aims to study and observe the current marketing strategies of service providers in medical tourism in Thailand (public clinics, private hospitals, clinics, and medical travel agents) and related parties like the Ministry of Public Health, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and analyze and evaluate the marketing strategies of Thailand and its main competitors in the area (Singapore, India, and Malaysia) in order to create a proposal of effective marketing strategies to develop and promote medical tourism near your vicinity. This is the initial such analyze carried out in Thailand, and it is expected to improve knowledge along with contribute to the expansion effective preparing in the future and enhancing the co-operation among stakeholders. current marketing strategies of Thailand’s medical tourism providers.
Interviews happened with health-related service providers (public hospitals, private hospitals, and clinics), medical travel agents and related parties, in several well-liked tourism places of Thailand: Bangkok, Phuket, and Pattaya hotels. Respondents had been selected through purposive sampling, based on data from extra data and the researchers’ encounter in the location, as well as declaration of health care providers’ websites. Criteria for inclusion inside the interview list included: membership rights in Thailand Private Hospital Association, large number of intercontinental patients who also received treatments, active making money online, and non-medical care serviced provided towards the patients.
The interview topics included queries related to current and long term target markets and marketing strategies, channel circulation, positioning, key competitors, dangers to medical tourism in Thailand, industry collaboration, involvement of new stakeholders, medical travelling packaging, and also other relevant subject areas. In addition , statement of stakeholders’ websites and online marketing of service providers of competitors (Singapore, India, and Malaysia) utilized to accomplish the objectives from the study. several.
Results and Discussions The findings from your interviews together with the healthcare companies and statement of stakeholders’ websites regarding the current marketing plans used by Thailand’s healthcare providers are defined based on the 7 Playstation of marketing blend: Product, Selling price, Place, Promo, People, Procedure, and Physical Evidence , . Item: Thailand’s health care service providers give a wide range of tertiary and optional medical treatments including Cardiology, Memory foam, Cosmetic and 2 . Strategy This qualitative research applied semi-structured selection interviews to examine the Plastic surgery, Dental care, Eye treatment, and the like. to attract the international individuals.
Well-trained medical staff with international board certification (US, UK, Sydney, Germany, Japan) are considered as a valuable property of the companies and applied as a crucial tool to market healthcare services. The individuals of Bumrungrad Hospital and Bangkok Clinic Medical Center (the major participant of Thailand’s medical tourism business) may select their particular required doctors through their websites simply by name, male or female, photo, medical qualification, their particular specialty, language spoken, and even the working working day. Moreover, the cutting-edge technology and gear available made by each service provider was likewise used as one of the major goods in this market.
Quality of treatment within a less-developed and developing countries is the significant concern elevated by the medical travelers by industrialized countries. Most of respondents commented that Thailand remains to be considered as producing country between Westerners, individuals who have under no circumstances been in the nation before, hence the availability of good quality medical care services is certainly not easily identified unlike Singapore, using its positive image of high living standards country.
However , the results of previous research  regarding satisfaction with health service in Thailand indicated that a majority of of the people who have been remedied were extremely satisfied with center of private hospitals, medical staffs’ professionalism, and quality of medical treatments focused enough to recommend to their friends/relatives which propagate word of mouth info to even more potential patients Another web marketing strategy used by companies is to generate more value through services. Superior value-added providers have been designed to differentiate themselves from their increasing competitors, elevating its efficiency, creating convenience for the patients, and developing and strengthening the customer relationships.
These types of nonmedical proper care services will be services such as, on-line assistance for medical arrangement, travelling arrangement, interpreter services in numerous languages (Arabic, Burmese, French, Bhutanese, British, French, Western, Korean, The german language, Spanish, Mandarin, Vietnamese, and etc), high-class service apartments rentals for patients’ relatives adjacent to the hospital, hotel selection and reservation, sightseeing tour companies, medical travel both on area and surroundings, one-to-one nursing jobs care services, and etc. Significant healthcare service providers in Asia have started out expanding their particular business to other countries by investing in and/or operating private hospitals or medical center overseas.
These hospitals function as diagnostic centre for verification cases and in addition for follow-ups in medical treatments. Bumrungrad Hospital invested in the latest private medical center in Manila, Philippines and is investing regarding US$ 10 million right into a new clinic in Syria, as well as having plans to deal with other two new local hospitals in Yangon, Myanmar and Dhaka, Bangladesh to expand their operations consist of potential countries.
Moreover, Bangkok Dusit Medical Services Group (a listed holding business operates seventeen hospitals in Bangkok, Pattaya hotels, Phuket, and Koh Samui which also contains Samitivaj Clinic, Bangkok Hospital Center, and BNH Hospital) already operates the Noble Angkor International Hospital in Siem Experience, Cambodia and in addition has foreseeable future plans of setting up diagnostic centers in Abu Dhabi, and the United Arab Emirates which will be a joint venture clinic network towards the UAE as well as the Middle-East. It also plans to open a specialist hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia that may offer wellness check-up courses, investigating illnesses and primary treatment options as well as producing referrals of patients to Bangkok Clinic Medical Center in Bangkok for more secondary therapies if needed in the near future.
Price: Thailand’s health care service providers include a competitive advantage among all of their competitor because of high standard of treatments and solutions offered to the patients in a very competitive price. Singapore offer treatments at more income00 than Thailand because of its positioning as a sophisticated complex top quality acute care . India provides lower price than Thailand however has the bad image of poor hygiene and sanitation.
India complicated medical procedures are being done only by one 10th of the cost in industrialized countries but in terms of facilities facilities including roads, cleanliness, power backups, accommodations, and public energy services a lot more is needed intended for the country to become medical travel destination . Malaysia offers rates lower than Thailand, partly because of the favorable exchange rate but its focus is mainly on the Muslim patients via Indonesia, Brunei and the Central East. Place: Internet is the main means for distributing information relevant to medical and non-medical care solutions offered by every single of healthcare service providers (both hospitals, and clinics).
Is it doesn’t most effective and cheap way to succeed in the product to its target customers immediately, and at the same time aiding patients get correct and valuable info allowing them to call and make an informed decision. Informative internet marketing of each company creates awareness of the medical treatments available and reassures potential patients. Online communication, therapies description, explanation of providers and facilities, quality assurance additional concierge companies were also provided on the websites to attract the individual who are recorded medical traveling program. Right now Thailand has no central firm to advertise valuable information concerning the health treatment services to the medical travelers.
Singapore set up the excellent websitewww.singaporemedicine.com while the center of the country’s health care services. That aims at endorsing Singapore being a world class medical tourism destination, and provides proved extremely successful to that end. All the healthcare service providers stated that there is the increasing use of agents in the target countries to be consultant for them. These types of agents offer information and recommend the patients regarding their treatment options to the clinics. They are a center working together between sufferers and hospitals for screening process cases, mailing all the important medical reviews of the individuals to the private hospitals.
And at the same time providers have the responsibility of promoting and performing marketing in those countries for health-related service providers, distributing word of mouth advertising of services assurance and reliability. Several respondents stated concerns about the services of the medical travel agents, with regard to low accuracy in the medical messages and overpromising to the people which both lead to overall patient’s subsequent dissatisfaction and create bad image of the medical service agency. Promotion: The majority of healthcare companies particularly hostipal wards participate in travel marts, travelling fairs, trade fair, displays, seminars, conferences, and advertise in travel magazines in countries with the supporting from your government.
With all the cooperation from the Ministry of Public Health, Travel and leisure Authority of Thailand (TAT), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Department of Foreign trade Promotion (DEP) organized these kinds of activities intended for promoting health-related services to international market segments. In addition , other informative components such as brochures, booklets, video-cds, paper luggage and tee shirt, jersey with trademarks were also utilized to create awareness of the obtainable healthcare companies as well.
Furthermore, some health care service providers build up cooperation while using local acadamies, universities, medical schools in other countries to establish cooperation in education, exchange of knowledge and teaching as well as to promote their substitute healthcare solutions. Advertising regarding medical and nonmedical services in both neighborhood and international media are being used by healthcare service providers. Similar has to be based on Thai regulations about how in promoting healthcare providers. Media including magazines, magazine (both in Thai and English), tv set etc . are more comfortable with target residents and expatriates who work in Thailand.
For the intercontinental market, the majority of respondents mentioned that they let medical travel companies do the promoting in every target nation which is based on their professional background and knowledge about those people’s behavior. Articles or blog posts, video, news related to their very own high quality and standard of medical treatments and services, medical issues, latest medical technology products, quality assurance/awards/accreditation available on their own websites as well as to the international media. These types of help to produce awareness of the available alternative medical treatments along with build up a positive image of the high quality and worldwide standard of medical care in Thailand.
People: Another strategy that health care service providers use to attract the international individuals for their remedies in Asia is to focus on its well-trained medical specialists, over with certifications from famous overseas acadamies. It was identified by each of the health care service providers that having specialized and qualified doctors and ecuries proved a competitive advantage for the clinics. This has been discovered for example for the websites of Bumrungrad medical center and Bangkok hospital, in which the qualifications of doctors and hospitality of nurses and the medical staff were intensively promoted to attract and capture the potential patients.
However , deficit of doctors and trained medical staff was the major matter currently mentioned by the respondents. Moreover, language communication skills at times of doctors, but more regularly of nurses, receptionists, and other relevant staffs and misunderstanding of the patients’ lifestyle were still considered as problem and challenges for the medical travel and leisure business for both hostipal wards and clinics. Process: Patients who seek medical treatments abroad are mostly worried about the quality of treatments and have to make certain the hospital they will select is licensed and if possible accredited by a recognized worldwide organization that audits medical quality.
Therefore , acquiring the intercontinental accreditation with Joint Commission rate International (JCI) which recognizes that the normal of the clinic meets or exceeds the normal of medical facilities in the US was used among the marketing strategy tools by health-related service providers. Presently, in Asia Bumrungrad Hospital, Samitivej Medical center, and Bangkok Hospital Clinic attained this JCI accreditation, compared to eleven hospitals in Singapore (accounting for a third of all JCIaccredited facilities in Asia), and 8 clinics in India .
There are different hospital peace of mind schemes and awards that are also important to guarantee the quality of health care services, just like Thailand Medical center Accreditation System (HA) conducted by the Start of Clinic Quality Improvement & Certification, and INTERNATIONALE ORGANISATION FUR STANDARDISIERUNG. Moreover, the result from remark indicated that the websites from the major clinics display not merely JCI accreditation but also other honours and Thailander government’s accreditation treatments including ISO, HACCP, HA (Thailand Hospital Certification Program), etc to assure the standard and their high quality of medical treatments.
Physical Evidence: Because the healthcare system has developed relatively recently in Thailand, it is often observed which the major health-related service providers have developed significantly in both infrastructures and facilities. Most hostipal wards have a great ambience in their buildings with spacious, luxurious rooms and excellent features same as that of a elegant hotel pertaining to patients and relatives, and in addition come equipped with advanced technology. This really is a competitive advantage of Asia in order to gain the confidence and make up the trust of intercontinental patients, making the decision to choose Asia as their recommended choice. marketing and how functions.
Retrieved Drive 1, 08 from www.cim.co.uk/MediaStore/FactFiles/Factifi le7ps. pdf  Boston Consulting Group. (2008). Review of Medical Tourism Give back deck. BCG.
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