Medical Tourism in 2020- Digital Transformation is No Longer Optional

Medical tourism industry is undergoing an immense shift in how information is obtained and distributed. Some industries like entertainment, travel and banking have digitized their processes to improve the consumer experience. With digital transformation, healthcare providers can improve patient experience and transparency that are demanded by everyone. Implementing technology will not only transform the quality of patient care and services, but also the business. Now, digital transformation is no longer optional, but necessary to optimize costs and invest in relevant, innovative areas.

Digital Transformation leads to Innovation

Innovation is the key to digital transformation in medical tourism. It helps to:

  • Better patient transparency
  • Improve patient communications
  • Optimize patient acquisition processes 
  • Simplify clinic-patient follow up
  • Reduce miscommunication 
  • Lower costs of international patient acquisition 

Why Healthcare Consumers Prefer Digital Solutions?

  • Search for hospital/clinic
  • Search for doctors
  • Search for doctors'/hospitals' reviews and ratings
  • Search for treatment costs
  • Schedule appointments
  • Search for different treatment options
  • Shop for a health plan
  • Check personal health information

Digital Transformation Gives Patients Complete Control

In medical tourism, patient empowerment is of utmost importance. The providers must emphasize the value of having patients who enjoy greater control over healthcare. Using digital media, hospitals/clinics can facilitate patients with the power of direct interaction. In the digital era, patients don’t want to rely on a middle man to interpret the details required for the chosen medical care or procedure. They want to be in complete control of who they talk to and how they research. As a provider, you have to ensure that you provide this control to the patients using innovative digital tools like direct chat or messaging service. This will allow the patients to get information in real-time from the clinic/hospital without any necessity of third-party interpretation. This will boost transparency, reduce miscommunication and optimize patient acquisition processes.

Easy Management of Patient Acquisition 

With direct chat, email, phone, SMS, videos and webinars, digital transformation and technology allows patient and provider to connect directly. This allows the patients to search for treatment costs, doctors, schedule appointments and shop for a suitable health plan transparently and conveniently. When patients enjoy complete control, it transforms into trust, which gradually leads to patient acquisition.

Digital transformation of medical information also includes everything from patient's treatment plans, diagnoses, medical history, test results to immunization dates. It also avoids recording medical data in unstructured formats that lead to human errors such as misdiagnoses, duplicate medical records, delayed treatments, etc. Thus, it lets in easy management of patient acquisition

Digital Media Reduces Cost of Patient Acquisition in Medical Tourism

Patient acquisition cost generally refers to the costs of marketing and sales that are incurred in the patient acquisition process. For healthcare providers, reducing this cost is an ongoing mission. With digital transformation, you can measure patients’ expectations and engagement of your resources accordingly. You can get feedback and suggestions from the patients directly and act on them. Using real-time feedback and then acting on those suggestions will help you to avoid a potential roadblock. Digital media will let you analyze, measure and then act, which will reduce the cost of patient acquisition and innovation will follow.

Direct Communication of Patients and Provider- Think Human and Digital- Not Human or Digital

Using digital tools like instant messaging or direct chat can boost patient-provider communication. This will help the providers to design on-demand healthcare services according to the need of the patients. On the other hand, patients will also enjoy complete transparency in terms of treatment, costs and care. Digital transformation is a phrase that can change the roles of customer service, marketing and sales in the medical tourism industry. 

Some may argue that such digital transformation with direct chat, email, social media and self-service puts the human side of engagement at risk. Human engagement is important but saying no to digital transformation can be fatal. As we have discussed above, digital media gives patients the power to check, evaluate and act, and this is the era when patients want to control. So, you must strike the right balance between digital and human engagement. In medical tourism, digital engagement will help to bring patients at your facility by building trust via human engagement and use the tools to substitute face-to-face interaction. So, this is the time to think human and digital, not human or digital 

Digital Marketing

Like any other industry, medical tourism needs online visibility. By increasing the visibility of your facility, treatments and services online, you can make your make healthcare service more accessible to the patients. It will be easier for the patients to find the solution they seek and the process of making an appointment will be simpler. 

How can you improve online visibility? Everyone is saying “I am the best, come to me”.  Effective and in-depth digital marketing strategy is required to provide transparent and knowledge-based information. Current online media such as website, social media, and other distribution methods are just tools to promote your educational information. You must go beyond “I am the best” to case based, factual information which is based on case studies, measurable data so that people can relate to it. Peer reviews and video interviews and testimonials could add more validity to your business.

When all these vital resources are available online, patients can easily compare and choose the right solution. For example, if a patient seeks facelift surgery, she can check reviews/testimonials of former patients and even check their before/after pictures. Similarly, a patient can compare the price of your treatment package with the package of the same treatment by another clinic. All this makes the entire procedure very transparent. So, what you should do is expand this transparency and extend a deep knowledge base of the patients by educating them about what is available worldwide by using the power of digital marketing. This puts a patient in a position where he/she can make a more informed decision.

Like every sector, digital marketing is infused in the medical tourism industry. In the last few years, the leap in digital marketing’s preference over traditional marketing is very evident in the sector. Since marketing tricks for consumers are greatly shifting towards digital channels like mobile apps, social media or digital ads, it is not surprising that the medical tourism industry is also shifting to digital channels. In your stride towards digital transformation, you should also improve human engagement. Engage well-informed, trained and expert human resources to provide useful and transparent solutions and support to the patients who try to reach your facility using digital mediums. Thus, in order to sustain and grow in the medical tourism industry, combine the power of digital transformation and human engagement.

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