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Deciding to go for medical tourism is a rather difficult decision for a health care consumer to make. A recent survey on consumer behavior when it comes to health travel shows that it takes on average 90 days or more for the health traveler to make up his/her mind. There are limited things that the international patient coordinator can do to speed the process up – as from the business perspective, revenue and patients in health care travel require effective communications.
Medical tourism has been rising rapidly during the past decade, the industry has been transformed from a niche marketplace to a highly competitive environment with medical providers constantly trying to enter the battle for the best and preferred hospital, clinic or specialist. Regardless of the technology and specialists, people put heavy emphasis on the price, country’s overall reputation in health care services, and peer reviews, as the recent survey on medical tourism consumer behavior made by PlacidWay Medical Tourism Company has shown.
When it comes to choosing the health care provider, the consumers will choose first of all the countries with traditional advanced economies which have focused for centuries to be the most advanced in the medical field. Yet, even so, the emerging economies that offer more competitive prices are scoring high in the public opinion. Germany, a forerunner in advanced health care solutions is among the top choices for health care travelers, but due to the high costs, individuals will be looking for alternatives in emerging countries, such as Mexico and Latin America (for US & Canada), India (for African consumers), Turkey or Poland (Middle Easterners & Europeans). These are just a few of the emerging countries that have been focusing on advancements in all fields, and are among the preferred medical tourism destinations.
According to the Medical Tourism Global Consumer Demand Survey author, Pramod Goel, “medical travelers take their time to ensure the decision they make is the right one, so if we are talking about the best hospital in the world, or the top specialists for a particular treatment, it all comes down to price, country reputation and peer reviews. Regardless if the exact same services are available in their home countries, for example, the customer will first look up the prices for the treatment in hospitals abroad that he or she can afford. And their search will begin in countries he or she has heard that those advancements are available.”
So why 90 days for making the buying decision?
As Pramod Goel explained, it all has to do with the way that people make the hard decisions in life. There are factors that influence decision making processes: age, socioeconomic status, and cognitive abilities. As the survey analysis shows, younger adults will request more information when compared to older adults and, depending upon the education level – the decision making process can be faster in lower educated health travelers while it becomes slower in higher educated individuals.
Nearly 34% of the respondents said they need about one month or more to make a decision from the time of inquiry to board the flight for medical travel. About 32% said they will make a decision in 3 months, while 23% of them will know what they have to do in 6 months. Some of them would need more time, so 6% will make a decision in 1 year and 4% of them in more than one year. From this data analysis, nearly 66% of the respondents stated they can make a decision within 90-days starting from the day of their inquiry. (Excerpt from Medical Tourism Demand Analysis, 2014)
“The majority of the respondents (66%) said that the average duration from research start to boarding the plane for treatment would be of about 3 months. We have concluded, after analyzing all the factors and age groups, that if the individuals will not make the buying decision within 3 months from the first inquiry, the chances of buying a medical travel treatment goes down to less than 10%”, stated Pramod Goel, PlacidWay CEO and the author of the Medical Tourism Demand Analysis (2014).
All three factors are important – cost, location and peer reviews, provided that the information on technology availability, specialists, and/or advanced treatment options is then easy to find by the consumer. This is where online marketing plays a huge role.
As medical providers have been trying to tap into the potential of the huge demand of medical tourism services, the first concept that is key to be taken into account is the consumer’s behavior. Simply put, following the market survey analysis of the medical tourism consumer, the process has 6 main steps:
Thus focusing on the second step that the consumer makes is key to establishing the authority in health care services as the reliable option or, better yet, the optimal solution for the problem identified (as seen in the first step).
The medical tourism consumer survey results show that 35% of the respondents who have traveled abroad for health care will make up their mind faster, while the general data shows 66% will make their buying decision within 3 months. How communications can speed up the process, will mainly depend upon the medical provider’s ability to reach the future customer in the second step – whether it is with the best price, location advantage, or favorable peer reviews, later having readily available the transparent information on technology and specialists, which, according to the survey analysis – are the next decisive factors for the “Alternatives Evaluation” (image above) that lead to the buying decision.
About PlacidWay Medical Tourism Company
PlacidWay is a leader in the medical tourism industry, with more than 250 partners in over 30 countries globally. PlacidWay is a dedicated portal for accurate, up-to-date information and resources regarding medical travel, international providers, treatments, procedures and destinations for international travelers. For press inquiries about PlacidWay or to arrange an interview with Pramod Goel, call +1.303.317.3607, or email email@example.com.