Pent up demand – a medical tourism opportunity?


The pandemic clearly had a serious affect on well being companies throughout the globe, diverting assets to treating COVID-19 sufferers and creating long run challenges for governments as they try and return to regular. Will this end in a growth in demand for remedy overseas?

Because the pandemic subsides and hospitals start to get again to the enterprise of treating non-COVID sufferers, sufferers are dealing with main challenges in accessing the healthcare they want or the remedy that has been delayed via the pandemic. A number of elements are driving this pent-up demand:

· In lots of international locations, COVID-19 sufferers crammed up hospital mattress capability and blocked the availability of elective surgical procedure that might usually be undertaken. The UK is a first-rate instance of the pandemic’s affect. On the finish of December 2021, the UK’s NHS ready record had risen to six.1 million. It’s estimated that this might rise to 9.2 million, presumably to as many as 10.7 million by Spring 2024.

· The pent-up demand for remedy doesn’t solely embody these sufferers who’re already ready for remedy. Evaluation printed by the Health Foundation exhibits that whereas UK ready lists proceed to develop, so too does the variety of ‘lacking’ sufferers who haven’t but been added to the record. There have been far fewer sufferers referred for routine hospital care than would have been anticipated primarily based on numbers previous to the pandemic. These ‘lacking sufferers’ will add extra stress to the ready record.

· With the delays in analysis of illnesses comparable to most cancers, sufferers are coming ahead at a later stage of illness development. The extra extreme type of a illness comparable to most cancers takes longer to deal with, requires resource-heavy types of remedy and is dearer.

· Even because the pandemic stress eases, hospital capability remains to be decreased. COVID-19 secure protocols will stay in place for a while to return. An infection management measures in place in most hospitals add time to working theatre procedures. It’s estimated that this, in impact, is decreasing theatre capability by as a lot as 20%.

It’s not simply elective surgical procedure that has been impacted. Take dentistry, as one other instance. Dental clinics closed down all through the pandemic and proceed to implement time consuming COVID-19 protocols. The top outcome… lengthy waits for routine dental remedy and for extra complicated therapies comparable to dental implants.

These elements are usually not distinctive to the UK. Sufferers in lots of international locations are dealing with delays in accessing remedy inside their home healthcare programs. Within the USA, a McKinsey survey of well being system leaders, hospital executives stories that they could wrestle to handle this backlog given workforce availability, enhanced sanitation protocols, and reserved inpatient capability. An analysis of cataract surgery volumes estimated that the USA might face a backlog of 1.1 million to 1.6 million cataract procedures in 2022.

A possibility for medical journey?

If sufferers can’t entry the surgical procedure or remedy that they want in their very own nation, beneath their public healthcare system or state funded medical insurance, will this immediate them to pay for the remedy both domestically or abroad?

The early proof within the UK is actually a rise in demand for “self-pay” surgical procedure within the nation’s personal hospitals. HCA Healthcare, in London, has seen a 25% increase in self-pay hip and knee replacements; Spire Healthcare has reported a 47% development in half-year revenues from self-paying sufferers. Some worldwide clinics are additionally reporting renewed curiosity and bookings from overseas sufferers.

So, in the event you’re seeking to appeal to worldwide sufferers who’re annoyed by the delays (and the fee) of remedy in their very own nation, what do it is advisable to do? Right here’s a fast 5 level guidelines:

1. Make sure you perceive what’s going on in your focused supply international locations. Do some detailed analysis:

a. Establish the areas of potential demand. Hips and knees? Most cancers analysis and remedy? Dental remedy?

b. Perceive the geography of demand within the supply nation. Are there particular areas the place demand is excessive? (Within the UK, regional ready record occasions are made public on the internet.) Analysis the catchment areas across the regional airports that fly direct to your nation.

2. Get your pricing proper. Price is a serious driver of many types of medical journey.

a. Ensure you know the value the affected person might pay for remedy in their very own nation.

b. Issue within the prices of journey and lodging.

c. Be sure that your worth level is enticing sufficient to ship vital saving to the affected person.

d. Supply an all-inclusive bundle. Don’t shock the affected person with hidden extras.

3. Get the product proper.

a. Do you perceive and might you meet the language and cultural wants of the affected person?

b. Are you offering a complete and supportive service all through the affected person journey – from preliminary contact, via to reserving and remedy, and assist when the affected person has returned dwelling.

4. If there’s one factor that sufferers need, post-pandemic, it’s reassurance about high quality and security.

a. Are you able to present clear proof of your experience? End result information? High quality information?

b. Are you able to persuade the affected person that you just function a “COVID-safe” setting?

c. Are you able to present a number of affected person testimonials from comparable sufferers who can assist your claims?

5. And final of all, measure your success (or failure!)

a. Set some very clear targets. b. Ensure they’re SMART.

c. And inside SMART, deal with SPECIFIC. Don’t attempt to be “all issues to all males” (or all sufferers). Success in medical journey is about being centered… on what you’re exceptionally good at, and on a really clearly outlined goal group of sufferers – when it comes to illness, supply nation and demographic.

The subsequent 12-24 months symbolize some very clear alternatives for medical journey. The pent-up demand is there. Can worldwide hospitals and clinics “strike while the iron is hot?


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