Medical tourism is a phenomenon which describes patients who travel to foreign countries to acquire high quality medical services at huge discounts. These days, an effective online marketing strategy has become vital for the medical tourism sector. Discussions about healthcare treatments and personal health is no longer a private conversation. More patients are sharing information about treatment and health issues with their network of friends and family through social media.
Medical Tourism Marketing – Audience by the Numbers
It is because so many patients are seeking quality healthcare under the categorization of medical tourism that marketing practices must expand for medical practices, doctors, and hospitals to meet these expectations.
Here are some startling facts about the ten most prominent destinations for medical tourism:
- Medical tourists per year: 50,000
- Considered one of the top medical tourism destinations representing 15% of all international tourists
- Medical tourists per year: 90,000
- The top medical tourism spot in Asia, Taiwan offers medical services with prices that are 50% lower than those in the US.
- Medical tourists per year: 110,000
- Primarily interested in eye surgery and check-ups, interventions in Turkey might cost 60% less than US procedures.
- Medical tourists per year: 180,000
- Brazil is one of the most popular destinations in South America with more than 4,500 licensed plastic surgeons.
- Plastic surgery procedures in Brazil cost 60% less when you compare them to the cost of the same procedures in the US.
- Medical tourists per year: 250,000
- One of the top medical tourism services offered in Malaysia is burn treatments.
- Medical tourists per year: 400,000
- Some of the treatments patients seek in this country are orthopedic and cardiac procedures.
- Medical tourists per year: 610,000
- Singapore has become rather well-known for its sophisticated cancer diagnosis and treatment services.
- Apart from these treatment services, Singapore has 22 JCI accredited facilities, modern healthcare institutions and a $300 million biotechnology research center.
- Medical tourists per year: 800,000
- Receives around 800,000 medical tourists every year looking for rare treatments on the most complicated health conditions.
- Medical tourists per year: Over 1 million
- The US. Statistics show that over 70% of U.S. medical tourists in Mexico come from Arizona, California and Texas. The most common services include dental work and weight loss surgery.
- Medical tourists per year: 1.2 million
- Thailand hosts the largest amount of medical tourists. Cosmetic surgery and rehabilitation treatment services are considered discrete and private with exemplary services and low cost.
Social Media – The Forefront of Medical Tourism
Social media is changing ways people interact with healthcare organizations like hospitals and medical practices. Social media allows healthcare practices including medical centers, private practitioners, and hospitals to listen and engage with patients on their terms. Moreover, it allows healthcare professionals to engage with clients in ways that adds a personal touch and real value to their social media interaction.
According to research by the Health Research Institute, 33% of consumers use social media sites such as Twitter®, YouTube®, Facebook® and other online forums for health related issues. As well, approximately 72% said that they would appreciate help in scheduling appointments through social media.
Currently, there are three overlooked social media tools that are aiding the medical tourism industry in marketing to potential patients:
Face to face tools such as Skype® present valuable opportunities for strengthening relationships and trust in the medical tourism industry. Before fixing an appointment for a medical procedure with a physician abroad, patients want a consultation to determine whether the doctor is trustworthy and more qualified than doctors in their hometown. Video conferencing enables people to have a real-time experience without having to travel. Personally engaging potential patients is one of the cheapest and most effective form of marketing there is as it makes the process as fluid and easy as possible while reaping high returns for doctors.
The key is to make patients feel that they are receiving attentive and individualized care by a doctor they can trust before they step onto the airplane.
For doctors in the medical tourism field, collecting likes and fans on a Facebook® page is not enough. Working hard to understand the needs, desires, motivations, habits, and presence of a potential patient takes a few extra steps because, for many medical professionals in this industry, they are relying on the tests and medical recommendations of prior doctors to evaluate potential patients. Medical professionals must deploy a robust social media marketing plan including Facebook® to touch the demographics of their prospects, increase expertise, and aid in search engine optimization.
Medical tourism marketers need to capture the audience with enticing visuals on their Facebook® page while making it easy for their audience to share the message and spread awareness to promote services to their personal network.
Studies show that 92% of the consumers trust recommendations from family and friends above all form of marketing. Facebook® marketing strategies are simple to implement using proven marketing efforts to helped surgery centers, hospitals, clinics, and specialists dramatically increase new patient attainment.
A powerfully written blog can be an incredible tool for gaining market share as well as establishing a following for an audience. Blogs need to be interesting and captivating enough that people share through social media. By optimizing a blog using SEO, keywords can speak to the search engines and draw more perspective patients to a medical practice. Moreover, blog topics needs to be chosen wisely as to attract the right patients to the website. As more and more people are becoming health conscious and searching on topics related to health, medical tourism marketers can optimize by location, medical specialty, and medical issue to write blogs that direct readers to the desired information.
Moreover instead of writing blogs on important topics such as health and fitness, medical tourism identify patterns to create information that interest the audience. Each blog could be about the special medical treatment, technology, location recovery, and facilities.
Healthcare Marketing – Medical Tourism Emerges
Healthcare social media programs are leading to more loyal customers, higher quality care, efficient business ideas, and increased revenue. In short, the healthcare market is expanding to embrace global medical tourism. Doctors, medical practices, and hospitals who embrace medical tourism will prosper into a new market of healthcare.