The Art of Negotiation in Medical Tourism
The Art of Negotiation in Medical Tourism
What is a negotiation and why is it important in your value proposition in the medical tourism market?
According to Wikipedia, Negotiation is a dialog between two or more people or parties, intended to reach an understanding, resolve point of difference, or gain advantage in outcome of dialog, to produce an agreement, to bargain, to craft outcomes to satisfy various interests of two people/parties involved in the process.
In the field of medical tourism, negotiation is also patient engagement, discussions that transpire between patient and a provider regarding various aspects such as treatment plan, treatment date, duration of stay, place to stay, cost, among many others. It is critical as the patient is shopping around for similar treatment and they may be comparing services from local providers to medical tourism providers.
Negotiation/ Patient engagement in the field of medical tourism can be effective if we clearly understand the basic elements of negotiation techniques based on cultural and language differences which could influence the outcome significantly. To attract medical tourists, we have to understand consumer mindset, their behavior, the context under which the communications are occurring and overall process.
As most of communication in the medical tourism industry occur over the phone, prior to medical tourist traveling to the center, it is critical to understand some of the fundamental steps of negotiating/engaging with the patient. Following are some of the techniques that have been effective:
Treat each patient contact as the most important
When you contact a patient, you need to focus on the patient and understand his/ her needs and listen to every detail. Consider this as an opportunity you cannot miss.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Enter a negotiation without proper preparation and you've already lost. Start with yourself. Make sure you’re clear on what you really want out of the arrangement. Understand the prospective patient information and their specific needs properly.
Understand the patients’ needs, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of their request. Understand specific requested procedures, treatments and options before contacting – have this material available to you during the discussions.
Be Attuned to the Importance of Timing
Timing is important in any negotiation. Sure, you must know what to ask for but you need to be sensitive on when you should ask for it. There are times to press ahead, and times to wait. When you are looking your best, is the time to press for what you want. Beware of pushing too hard and poisoning any long-term relationship. Plot the course of your conversation in your mind before you call, it will help you organize the timing of conversation elements.
Buff Up Your Active Listening Skills
Effective negotiators are often quiet listeners who patiently let others have the floor while they make their case. They never interrupt. Encourage the other side to talk first.
If You Don’t Ask, You Won’t Receive
This is the cornerstone of success. Plot your course, know what to ask for and schedule the patient prospect through the steps.
What documents do I need? Ask for them and set a specific time for receiving them.
What is the treatment that patient is looking for?
What is the patients’ budget? When will the patient be prepared to pay – now, in 1 month, etc.?
When is treatment appointment date planned for? Set a specific target date which can be adjusted as the planning phase’s progress.
Are they talking with other providers? If so, who and what have they received so far?
Always set a specific date and time for the next conversation, then calendar it and follow through.
Lead the Conversation
This can’t be emphasized enough. Understand your immediate, long term and ultimate objective for having the conversation/negotiation with the patient. Respect their time and yours by smoothly and professionally transitioning the conversation from one objective to the next. Get ‘yes’ answers or acknowledgement of agreement as many times as you can during the conversation, but particularly when transitioning the topics.
Successful negotiations sometimes depend on personality. If you can assess your prospect's personality type, you can use the most effective techniques to show them why your service or product is right for them. For instance, if a patient is skeptical, you may want to back up your claims with documented facts and successful case histories; if a patient is social, you may want to emphasize the popularity of what you're offering.
Assess your negotiation style and build flexibility in using alternative negotiation styles. Practice the negotiation techniques and skills to reach "win-win" negotiation agreements.
Develop and exchange creative negotiation currencies other than price. Manage the phases and critical tasks of the entire negotiation process. Select and use specific negotiation tactics consistent with your operating principals.
Respond to adversarial tactics, objections and challenges with facts and choices. Plan for the outcome – the patient prospect becoming a patient.
Summarize your Action Plan
At the end of the conversation, summarize the action plan you have outlined and re-confirm the date and time of your next conversation appointment. Practicing and perfecting this step will help you organize your notes, develop future strategies and make clear to the patient what is expected of them.
Have Fun and Be Enthusiastic
Of all the skill sets that a successful negotiator possesses, the ability to laugh and have fun with an otherwise potentially stressful situation is perhaps one of the most important. Patient prospects will respond in kind and be more likely to bond with you and your good natured, professional approach. It also makes your job, and their decision making process much more satisfying.
We need to understand that the foundation of a successful negotiation is your ability to build a relationship, creating this with your patients paves way to trust which is vital to influencing their decision to travel and do their treatment with you. So the next time you engage with your patients, do all of the above and make sure to seize that opportunity to not only make them as your patients but also stay true to your objective of helping them improve the quality of their lives.
If you want to know more, you can always contact us and ask for more information