Since the launch of the first smartphone in 1992 by IBM, several companies have jumped onto the app bandwagon, and now there are over 500,000 apps on the Apple App Store alone. Due to the increasing number of medical travelers in Taiwan, Thailand and Korea, user friendly and informative mobile apps have been developed so medical travelers to these countries will know exactly where to go to get high-quality and low-cost medical procedures.
There are three mobile apps currently available with the expressed purpose of promoting medical tourism: TaiwanTrade, for Taiwan; MedTourism, for Thailand; and Mediapp, for Korea. This article will take a look at each application individually and outline its effectiveness for getting the message out about medical tourism.
TaiwanTrade is a mobile application commissioned by the Bureau of Foreign Trade in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and implemented by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA). The goal of the app is to give local companies a convenient platform to showcase any products or services to visiting businessmen who may be looking for certain products or procedures during their visit to Taiwan. Part of these listings feature healthcare services that enable medical centers and independent doctors in Taiwan to place themselves on TaiwanTrade for more visibility.
The TaiwanTrade mobile application is for anyone who is interested in knowing the latest information about Taiwan's industries, including its burgeoning medical tourism industry, which continues to enjoy huge success. In general, anyone who wants to know more about Taiwan’s industries will benefit by using the app.
Thailand’s MedTourism is an application that serves an extension of the thailandmedtourism.com website, administered by the Tourism Authority of Thailand. The site, which is focused on promoting medical tourism in Thailand, functions as a resource for interested individuals looking for quality medical care in Thailand at a very affordable price. Over 300 medical providers have currently joined the site, and over 170,000 unique visitors have frequented it.
The mobile app puts the website onto smartphones and iPhones everywhere. The application is easy to use and in fact, is far more focused than the TaiwanTrade application because it deals solely with medical tourism and isn't a general app attempting to target everyone. What you will find on the MedTourism app are the same things you will find on the website. The main menu is optimized for touch-screens and is easy to navigate. It leads the user to core information such as medical providers, specialists, medical treatments, general treatments, dental services, dermatology, cosmetic surgery, LASIK, check-ups and destinations (the locations where the desired medical services and facilities can be found).
MedTourism also has the usual functions, such as search and bookmark features, as well as a place to contact the developers. The application is available now for download and provides capabilities for those who want to make targeted searches for medical services in Thailand.
MediApp Korea is a mobile application released by the Medical Tourism Promotion Center of the Korea Tourism Organization. The Korean application goes even a step further than the MedTourism site created by the Thai government; in fact, it is rather detailed. The application is available in multiple languages, including English, Japanese, simplified Chinese and Russian. It promises to deliver the user all the information necessary for quality, informed medical travel in Korea.
First, it provides the user with a complete picture of Korea's lucrative medical tourism industry, featuring details on specialties and even videos. The content is deep and rich, more than enough to thoroughly inform virtually anyone. Second, travel agencies are also associated with the site, and they're readily available to serve customers with specifically tailored travel programs built around whatever medical procedure you want. They help customers make well-informed decisions about their medical needs.
The third major feature of MediApp Korea is its extensive list of clinics. It works just like a search engine. Just type in what you need, and the best options pop up on the screen. The medical locations can be found within the application using Google Maps, and all the information you will need is given to you: websites, contact numbers, notes on the faculty and what their specialties are and how much the procedures will cost. All of this information is available with just a few taps on a touch screen or keyboard.
The fourth feature gives each user a medical planner to keep with them. This medical planner can be scheduled by the user to remind them when to check blood sugar, blood pressure or take medical prescriptions. It can also do double duty as a travel scheduler so the medical tourist can keep his or her itinerary on the smartphone and not have to worry about losing it.
The Medical Tourism Promotion Center is always releasing information about promotional events and inside scoops on what medical providers are issuing coupons for discounts on routine procedures. Much like an email list, MediApp Korea allows users to opt in for updates and news releases about new procedures that may be available, as well as discounts on products or services issued by the providers.
An additional function gives users the option of tweeting their medical tourism experience on Twitter. Users can also tweet questions to the Medical Tourism Promotion Center and get answers and consultations.
When the three applications are put next to each other, it's easy to see that there is a progression from general to specific. While the TaiwanTrade application is good, medical tourism is only a small part of what can be found there. Thailand's MedTourism application is far more specific than Taiwan's TaiwanTrade, but it doesn't have the depth offered by Korea's MediApp. MedTourism is quite detailed on its own, giving users information about specialists and other specific information, but MediApp adds just a bit more functionality. The Korean application is also more interactive because it has a Twitter component that allows users to contact the governmental office directly.
Any one of these applications is good in its own way, but it definitely depends on what users want out of their medical tourism search as well as where they prefer to go to get the procedure. The governments of Thailand, Korea and Taiwan have stepped up their efforts to promote their respective countries’ medical tourism industry, and they do compete against each other as well as other countries for tourists looking for affordable, high-quality medical care. While TaiwanTrade is an effective general business application, MedTourism and MediApp are very good applications focused completely on medical tourism.
Daniel Benzler is the social media coordinator for the Medical Tourism Association™. Daniel is responsible for managing the company’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Medical Tourism Magazine Blog. He coordinates content for the daily social media releases and posts it to each platform through a pipeline. He may be reached at Daniel@MedicalTourismAssociation.com .