Don’t write off medical tourism, just start small
After speaking to some people recently, the idea of attracting international patients to their area seems impossible so they just write off the concept of medical tourism. But, maybe they should consider domestic medical tourism to begin with.
I have spoken to a few tourism boards from small counties lately and they all say what great tourism offerings they have and when I ask about the healthcare they can usually list at least one local facility off hand that specializes in something. So why not start there? The tourism board could partner with the one or more local healthcare facilities and maybe a few hotels to begin with. They can create a small partnership agreement and see how it works.
I’m sure most patients covered by health insurance do not really consider going to a different state or county to receive treatment. In most cases it is probably because they don’t really know a lot about it, not everyone does extensive research before getting a procedure. But, if they have the same coverage in another state and they can afford a trip, then why wouldn’t they be interested? Depending of course on the procedure they need. This is where I see the opportunity for small counties to shine. The example that keeps coming to my mind is relaxing at a wine vineyard in some small town, while recovering from a minimally invasive procedure. Some of these smaller places will be quieter, quaint and have unique features. This way the patient could enjoy recovering and so could the companion they bring along. Even if a patient has a procedure in their home town, they typically have a friend or family member to assist them during the recovery process; this is the chance for the companion to enjoy the recovery time also.
A clear marketing plan needs to be put in place, and once the destination has been established or has seen results from their efforts then they could take it to another level, in the medical tourism industry, possibilities are endless! The Medical Tourism Association has a Destination Branding Program in place that could assist smaller destinations in finding the right marketing strategy for them. The point is, there are so many aspects to this industry and new ideas are always being implemented, do not get scared off at the thought of your small destination trying to attract all these patients from all over the world. Just start off at a comfortable level. The World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress would be a good starting point to learn all about the industry from the experts!
If anyone else is interested in this idea, please let me know!