Medical tourism is moving full steam ahead since the early recovery days post-pandemic; now, patients from around the world are challenging conventional barriers to quality healthcare and are reaching out to healthcare providers beyond borders to access world class healthcare without paying through their nose.
In the new era of medical tourism, the role of the medical tourism facilitator is now more important than ever. As more patients seek medical treatments abroad, the medical tourism facilitator is well positioned to support patients find quality options and get them from point A to point B safely and seamlessly. Therefore, understanding best practices in medical travel facilitation is essential to winning more health payers into a market.
In the past facilitators could get by as a “mom and pop” operation working from a computer in their basement. Anyone with a nice website could market to patients, even if they did not always have the patients’ best interests in mind.
But the industry has evolved; patients are more educated and discerning about who they will work with, and healthcare providers have also increased expectations for professionalism. To stand out from your competition and achieve the best results, it is important to have a comprehensive understanding of the industry, client expectations and how to mitigate risks to your clients and to your business. Below are important strategies to consider as you reposition your medical tourism business for long-term success.
Focus on Patient Experience
There is a shift in the medical tourism ecosystem, especially since the pandemic. Patient expectations about their healthcare and those providing or facilitating their care have changed. Patients are now more intentional about whose services they pay for and demand that quality must be maintained along the care continuum.
Reducing risk and optimizing the patient experience is fundamental to your success. Ensuring all touch points of the patient journey are addressed (either by you, the healthcare providers, or other third parties (transportation, hotels). Patient satisfaction and leveraging that satisfaction through patient testimonials and referrals is key.
For discerning patients , it does not end with a telephone call talking about what procedures the destination can offer, patients and health payers want to know much more: who’s performing the procedure and what qualifications do they have? What are their success rates vs. complication rates? What happens after the procedure is completed, are patients left on their own to navigate their care back home? Are the destination staff and medical providers culturally competent or do they treat everyone the same way?
These are just some of the questions patients are asking, and answers to these questions are what motivate patients’ decisions about traveling to a particular destination. As a medical travel company, ensuring these aspects of the care journey meet patient expectations is a crucial role, and one that may determine if you succeed or not.
Leverage the Right Technologies
Technology has evolved and facilitated communications and interactions with patients and providers. Having a CRM with client portal, for example, allows the customer to quickly and easily communicate with your company and potentially third-party service providers, ensuring you can control many aspects of the client experience. Additionally, it enables you and your staff to share tailored information with your clients to ensure they are educated about the entire medical tourism process. In communicating with medical tourists from different countries and of different social contexts, it is important to know what works for who.
Communicating with the older population, who may be searching for best centers for knee replacement or hip surgeries, through email messaging may not be as effective as having a telephone conversation or consultation with them.
Similarly, the younger population, who may be the consumers of cosmetic procedures and bariatric surgeries, may be more comfortable with email or even social media messaging than telephone interactions with a medical tourism facilitator.
Therefore, to succeed in the new normal of medical tourism, know what works and adopt that. You may need to launch a survey or ask your prospective clients directly to know what communication channels work best for them. If you adopt the wrong communication strategy for a client, they may soon abandon the process for a travel company that speaks their language.
Further, how easy is it for clients to reach you or learn about your offerings? Do you have a website that provides clear details about your services, certifications, staff training, and price lists or do clients have to browse multiple search engines to get bits and pieces of information about your company? A well-built and detailed website, with user-friendly models is an important way to attract clients and health payers to doing business with you.
With so many options out there, health payers and patients are carefully weighing which companies have their best interests in mind. They have no intention of paying for services that are second-rate when there are companies that offer better. So, to achieve top-quality results and ensure your services meet global standards, a medical tourism facilitator must adopt and integrate global best practices into its operations.
How then do you learn and adopt global standards in medical travel? Through robust medical tourism training. Training and certification set you apart in the industry and makes your company easily recognizable as one that demonstrates competence, quality, and that prioritizes the patient experience.
Leveraging leading training and accreditation platforms, such as the Global Healthcare Accreditation (GHA), you demonstrate your uniqueness to health consumers and clients, and display your commitment to quality services along all the touchpoints of care. Patients do not have to wonder Whether or not you are a responsible company that is looking out for their best interests, having recognized the GHA’s seal that represents quality and first-rate medical travel facilitation along the care continuum.
Global Healthcare Accreditation
Global Healthcare Accreditation (GHA) is the leading authority in medical travel accreditation, rebuilding trust and standards in the medical travel industry through accreditations and certifications that reflect global best practices.
Through GHA’s Medical Travel Facilitator Certification, medical tourism facilitators have access to guidance and best practices that will help them to leap forward in the industry. You’ll learn how to integrate the right business strategies and protocols to enhance your performance and sustainability in the ever-competitive market. For instance, knowing a client’s sociocultural or religious background provides ample information about their contexts and what communication or marketing models will be most appropriate for them. Are your communication tools or modes of interactions culturally appropriate for a traditional Arab client who needs your services or is it the same approach for everyone?
The certification comes with robust training across 15 program elements, including:
- Leadership and management
- Facilitator commitment statement
- Client services
- Strategic planning, goals, and objectives
- Oversight of outside contracts and agreements
- Risk management
- Business ethics
- Cultural competency and language assistance
- Staffing, staff training, and competency
- Financial transparency
- Marketing transparency
- Client communication and education
- Documentation management
The Medical Travel Facilitator Certification is a must-have for any medical travel facilitator that wants to enhance patient experience, expand its market visibility, or build a business model that is fit for success in the ever evolving and competitive industry.
Instead of making countless mistakes and possibly taking years to reach the professionalism and visibility you seek, the Certification allows you to fast-track your path to a facilitator business that is soon offering high-quality services that give your company a distinctive position and a competitive advantage.
To learn more about the Medical Travel Facilitator Certification, click here.