Tapping African Market

The key strategic focus should be on service differentiation, quality and outlook enhancement, value adds and service customisation

Medical tourism

The key to the success of generating revenue from a market is the ability of a particular hospital, facilitator or a provider to show value to the customer. The value that can be created in a market though would initially be leveraged on the perceived value that the consumer has about a particular organisation, country, destination and seller. The perceived value needs to be constantly added and delivered, so as the reputation to the customer still helps him with a favorable buying decision. As one looks at adding the perceived value, the key strategic focus should be on service differentiation, quality and outlook enhancement, value adds and service customization. As the perceived value of a particular seller is created and sustained towards creating a sustainable and strong transaction market, there is also a key importance in deploying strategies that actually helps solution's the need areas of the market in a most effective and mutually beneficial way. Though the above paragraphs focus on generic focus areas in relation to creating perceived value and delivering value proposition, I would like to take a few of my experiences, in what I feel worked for me in creating international markets. For this article I would restrict my experience only to African markets. Africa is taken as an example because the continent gives us enough instances with different stage of growth. There are markets that are generating high volumes, markets with high growth trajectory and also markets with extremely specific disease conditions. Given the versatility of the African continent, there exist a huge demand and opportunity for every seller in healthcare to add an element of value for the continent. In my personal opinion, any successful business association starts with value creation, the commercial and strategic aspects should evolve under the base of value to patients. Africa as a fast growing continent is developing a robust and strong healthcare scenario, but given the current stand it gives us immense opportunities to support the system and look at it in a long-term symbolistic association. The continent should be looked as an opportunity that would enable sellers to create healthcare in Africa than just focus on the interim outward referrals When a seller looks at tapping any segment of the continent, it is imperative that they first see the need and demand in the market. The specific demand in that particular market and the shortfalls for the next three years that the country might have before they evolve their healthcare is a good base to strategically position the seller and most importantly perceive the sustenance and growth rate. With that as the background, the seller needs to look at immediate, mid-term and long-term strategies. The immediate strategy though will focus on patients travelling out of the country and to attract them to the seller, and the mid-term strategy should focus on how much the seller wants to be a part of the growth with the country. This should focus on strategies that help in effectively managing diseases, population based health, quality of life and care continuum. The long-term strategy should focus on how the seller can associate in helping the country achieve and scale the availability of healthcare that would address a high demand healthcare for the citizens. Though the above are more strategic, the key is to convert the above strategic steps into executionable action plans, so as the sellers benefit at all the three stages. IMMEDIATE STRATEGIES Different sellers deploy different strategies to enter and capitalise this phase of opportunity, the common shortfall to look for is below:

  1. Never plan only on the number of patients that you would need to attract immediately.
  2. Never look at immediate foot falls just because another seller is having the volumes, the sustenance of a market is on how the patient sees your brand. So building that is key than immediate response. Instead of planning your immediate strategy based on the above questions, always have the following questions answered before you estimate the market:
  3. How many patients do you feel your institution can add value to?

  4. What are the values that you can offer? Is it only by bringing them for treatment or any other support functions?
  5. What is the immediate value that you can pass to the patient? Price or outcomes or care?

MID-TERM AND LONG-TERM STRATEGIES The key to having this thought through in the beginning is because it lays the foundation on your sustainability and scalability in the market. Many sellers without this would see that the volume has picked up but cannot be a consistent revenue platform. Long-term strategies are the foundation on which your immediate strategies are built. The long-term strategies will help you build a strong perceived value, thereby creating a powerful brand that patients can trust. Few things to look for are as below:

  1. What is the current shortfall in the targeted countries health systems? How do you see the next three years?
  2. To what extend does your institution want to participate? And how long are you willing to wait to get this done? Will you have your investments / technology / talent in place to fulfill this journey?

Once you are able to address these key points of discussion, then executing it with action points becomes easy and in line to fulfill a strong, high growth and dominated market.