Manipal Healthcare: Choosing Facilitators

Medical tourism

When should a hospital tie up with facilitators and when it should go without them

1. In the initial stage of the growth of a hospital, facilitator present a good picture of the hospital to the public, thus increasing the patient base.

Medical Value Travel (MVT) revenue in 2015 was $3 billion and the expected market size in 2020 is to grow upto $ 7-8 billon. According to CII, the primary reason that attracts medical value travel to India is cost-effectiveness and treatment from accredited facilities at par with developed countries at much lower cost. Some major healthcare service providers or facilitators in India have expanded their businesses overseas by investing in or operating hospitals, medical centres or information centres.

A healthcare facilitator helps people reach their objective of improved health and a higher quality of life by liaising them to best healthcare providers in India. Digital advertising and marketing have become very popular in the last decade and hospitals should make use of this medium to reach out to the public. If hospitals collaborate with medical tourism agencies, the facilitator can connect them to the target patient market, thus saving the hospital a lot of money on advertising and other promotional activities.  

2. When the size of the business grows, the hospital should invest in respective geographies.

As per my experience of handling hospital international business from last 14 years and 21 years in healthcare, in the initial stage of the growth of a hospital, a facilitator helps present a good picture of the hospital to the public and highlights its facilities and achievements, thus increasing the patient base.

If the size of an international business is small in a respective hospital or hospital is initiating international business, it is a good idea for a hospital to tie up with healthcare facilitator to run their business. It’s a good model for establishing international business but when the hospital’s international business grows big, it should be self-sufficient to reach out and touch base with those referring doctors by investing in respective countries. This can be achieved by building up teams for referral business, doing regular activities, creating information centres, day care clinics and basic diagnostic centres.

I don’t say that I discourage facilitator business but it is helpful mainly in the initial stage of the business. When the size of the business grows, the hospital should invest in respective geographies. The activities should include organising camps, talks, CMEs, etc. This will increase the brand value of hospital and enhance access for patients to reach the hospital.

Vikas Tayer is head- strategic business and international marketing, Manipal Healthcare Enterprises Private Limited.